If you're looking for a job in financial services and are meeting with minimal success, you might need to be more proactive. While it's always easier to find a job through a network, it can sometimes make sense to reach out to business leaders, hiring managers or HR people and recruiters you've never spoken to before.
This can mean the dreaded cold email. Yes, there are also options like Inmail on LinkedIn, but I'm not so sure of Inmail's effectiveness. Some people rarely check-in or engage on LinkedIn. Some don't even have an account.
So, faced with having to send an email to get the attention of someone you don't know, how should you go about it?
There is no email format that will work for every scenario: there are too many variables. But there are some things you can do that will increase your chances of getting a response.
Make it personal
As a general rule the most important thing to do is personalize any message to demonstrate that you have researched your intended recipient and their employer. It should be clear you know who they are and what they do.
Find common ground
Try and find (and make reference to) one thing you clearly have in common and refer to it - be it school/university, a previous employer or ex-colleague or client etc. Finding common ground can be a game-changer, but it obviously isn’t always possible.
Say nice things
A throw away complement can get you a long way with some people. “Congrats on your team’s or business’s recent award or league table position, fund performance etc etc”
Use a subject line that grabs attention
Try not to use anything too catchy or tacky otherwise it may be mistaken for just another sales email. This is where dropping a personal reference may come in handy i.e. “referral from Sam at ABC Investment Management” or “outreach from fellow Warwick Alumni”. Alternatively, you could say something like “Networking request from Sales Director at XYZ Bank”.
Keep it short and sweet
No amount of personalization or catchy headings are going to get your email read if it’s too long. Keep it punchy and to the point. It should include a one line intro on who you are and what makes you special, and another on why you’re making contact with them, and then finally - a call to action (ideally a question and not a statement). i.e. Do you have time to grab a coffee in the coming weeks? Try to keep it to 100-130 words at max.
Put yourself in their shoes
Read it back. Would you open and bother reading this email if the shoe was on the other foot?
Don’t attach a CV and Cover Letter and references etc – that’s way too presumptuous, and they may be put off opening an unsolicited email with attachments. Instead, say just enough to make them curious and interested.
Time it right
Many studies suggest the best time to send a cold email is in the morning between 6am and 10pm (don’t forget any timezone difference if that’s relevant), and the best days are supposedly Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
And finally, bear in mind that even if you hit all the right notes with your email – I still would only give you a 30% chance of getting a response, which could vary widely depending on how relevant/interesting your background is and whether there is a personal connection you can reference.
Dan Whitehead is founder of City Career LAB (a career coaching company) and a 20+ year veteran of recruitment and corporate Talent Acquisition in Financial Services.
Photo by James Eades on Unsplash