To Whom It May Concern — How to Make Your Email Stand Out

It's now 2018.

You've decided that you want to start your job search. Your resume is updated, you have found some jobs that interest you, and you're ready to rock and roll and start applying.

Or are you?

You can easily start rapid firing your resume to all the different online portals, in hopes that you won't just be another candidate in the sea of 10,000; or you can get creative and figure out how to stand out amongst the crowd.

Let's be honest, the job search game has changed profoundly. The job market is competitive and scrappy.  The old adage "It isn't what you know, it is who you know," rings true in many cases.

A former recruiter, I can say with confidence that I would receive 200+ resumes per job sometimes. In all honesty, you don't get through all 200 most of the time- all the while on the candidate side you are wondering how your resume can make it to the top of the pile. Two words: get creative.

Writing a great LinkedIn message or email to a prospective hiring manager or HR professional can put you at a clear advantage over the other cookie cutter candidates who think it's just enough to apply and magically get hired (sorry, will get off my soapbox now). There are a few guidelines that I've found to be a solid rule of thumb when constructing a good intro email or Linkedin message.

1. Use Your Subject Line Wisely: Be clear and be specific. For example, if you're submitting an application for a marketing assistant role and you have four years of experience (and that's coincidentally what the job description calls for) — say just that in your subject line. As a recruiter, I'm opening that email because as luck may have it, I need that type of a candidate. Another great way to get attention is if you're referred by someone at the company. Your email will definitely get read if you state the person that referred you the subject line, like "Marketing Assistant, Referred by James Smith." Be intentional and be succinct.

2. Include Who/Why/What: You should have a clear purpose for why you're contacting the HR person or hiring manager. Is there a specific position open? Are you reaching out because you're interested in the company? Are you trying to get a coffee meeting on the books? State your purpose and do it quickly. If you find yourself writing several paragraphs, you need to slow your roll. I would never even think about reading a long, drawn out email from anyone in my former recruiting days. 

3. Grab Their Attention: OK, so how do you do that? There are a lot of ways that aren't creepy or phony that can really catch someone's attention. For example, do some reading about the company in the news. Attach a link to something you read, such as, "I read that your company has been working with a local homeless shelter and donating all of your excess food from your cafeteria. I'm very passionate about volunteering my time as well." Make your content relevant to you and to your reader. Maybe you see the person you are reaching out to on LinkedIn attended the same college as you. Find a common thread!

4. Wrap It Up With Intention: Again, remember that you're reaching out to someone you don't know very well, if at all. Thank them for their time and end your note restating your intention. Not sure what to write? Try something like, "I am really interested in meeting with you to learn more about the marketing assistant role" or "I would love to understand a bit more about your Marketing department and if I can be a fit for future openings."  

The bottom line is, while writing these types of emails won't guarantee you an interview or meeting, it will certainly get you noticed much quicker than just doing the bare minimum. Set a goal for yourself and reach out to a certain amount of contacts at companies you're interested in each week and keep at it. I'm confident you'll get in the door!