Seeking New Opportunities: The Email You Write

April 15th, 2015

I recently got an email from a friend who just got laid off… and thought I would share how I would coach this person to write it differently. I know this person, trust this person, and would help this person as much as I can… which is a little different than those out-of-the-blue, cold-contact from strangers emails you get from LinkedIn. I’m sure you’ve either sent something similar, or you’ve gotten something like this. First, the email:

(1) Jason,

(2) I hope you and your family are doing well. (3) I am currently seeking new opportunities. (4) I have been let go from my previous employer after a restructuring. (5) If you hear of any opportunities (6)  for someone of my skill-set, I would greatly appreciate any recommendation you can give me. (7) Thanks dude.

(8) Best wishes,
[name]

(9)

I was delighted to get this email since it was from a friend I hadn’t heard from in at least a couple of years, probably more.  The email was good, but it was definitely lacking.  Here’s what I recommend:

(1) Keep my first name there just like you have it (and don’t put “dear”). This makes it personal and I know I’m not on a bulk email, althought if I were on a bulk email from this person, it would be okay (because of our past relationship and trust).

(2) Keep the first sentence, which puts it at the friend-level, before anything else.

(3) I’m glad to cut to the chase and hear that you are looking for a new gig (or, opportunities).  Immediately my attention is gotten and kept.  Good.

(4) The sentence that you got let go, and keeping it from sounding bitter, is perfect.  Nothing more to say.  Don’t lay blame, don’t assume blame, don’t sound jaded… just state that much and let’s move on to the purpose of this communication.

(5) Good… let me know how I can help you… is essentially tapping into the hidden job market.

(6) Okay… now this is where you lost me.  You see… I don’t know what your current skill-set is. It has been a long time since we worked together.  But honestly, even if we worked together yesterday, I think you should explicitly state what your skill-set is.  I don’t know if you want me to focus on your software skills, or your customer skills, or your product management skills, or your project management skills, or your management skills. Or, you could be interested in some other skill-set that I don’t associate with you, but others might.  I need you to explicitely spell this out, and I would do it concisely (not all of your skills, but the ones you are most interested in) in another paragraph (just to keep a good amount of white space in this email).

Here’s what I would include in this email, which I think will immensely help others help you (which is what you want to do, right?):

I’m specifically looking for a role at a company in the x, y, or z industries.  Something like CompanyA, CompanyB, or CompanyC would be awesome, but those aren’t the only companies I’m looking for.  My title might be software developer, programmer, senior program, or something similar.  Do you know any9one at those companies, or do you know anyone with those titles, that you could introduce me to so I could have a short conversation with them?  Do you know of other companies or people I should talk to?

The first part of this short paragraph expands their vision of where I want to end up, and what I want to do.  The last two questions are yes/no questions… easy for them to answer.

(7) I was a little on the fence about this, but this totally fits this guy’s personality.

(8)Get ending… but….

(9) I would LOVE to get a link to your LinkedIn Profile, at a minimum, and perhaps a personal website or blog where I can read up on you, your projects, etc.  Give me some meat so I can “stalk” you for a few minutes, and perhaps jog my memory of all of your professional coolness so I feel confident in recommending you.

So that’s about it… a real world email from someone looking for help, and two main things I would add.

I have some video courses you can watch to bring you up to speed on some of these things. Remember, watch a full course, at no cost, and you get an additional 7 days of premium on JibberJobber.  Video explaining this here.

Pluralsight courses I recommend related to this post:

  • Informational Interviews (once you get introductions, this is your next step)
  • Effective Email Communication
  • Designing a Killer Job Search Strategy
  • Developing a Killer Personal Brand
  • LinkedIn Strategy: Optimize Your Profile
  • LinkedIn: Proactive Strategies
  • Resumes and Self-marketing for Software Developers
  • Career Management 2.0

To watch these for free, and get 7 days JibberJobber premium for each course you watch, watch this video:

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