Below are a couple of sample emails my clients use to get advice and help in their job search. In some circles, these are called “networking” emails. But let’s keep it simple and just say it’s an message asking someone you know for help with your job search.
(Color coding will be explained later in the post)
Dear so and so,
I’m hoping you can give me some advice and guidance on my job search.
I’m looking for an opportunity run the communications for a major project or for an entire company. In my career, I’ve developed skills in communications strategy, reputation management, storytelling and collaborative project management, at media, research and advocacy organizations. I’m especially interested in a national organization that’s looking for new approaches to building and conveying its image. I’d love to work at a place like Discovery, PBS, Brookings Institute, and other national organizations. I can see myself as a VP or Director of Communications, External Relations or Public Relations.
I know how busy you are, so I’m wondering if you’d be able to give me 20 minutes of your time, to share some insight and point me in the right direction?
Thank you so much in advance! I’ll be in touch in the next couple of days to set up an appointment.
Thanks so much for agreeing to meet with me.
I am hoping you could give me some advice and guidance on my job search. I
am looking for a government/community relations position in the private
sector and can discuss in more detail when we meet.
I am flexible so if you can let me know some days/times you are available,
I will make one of them work. I am free next Friday after 11 am and have
time the week of the Feb.13th.
I am looking forward to discussing the possible opportunities.
Thanks so much!
You’ll notice there are similarities and differences between the messages.
- asking for advice and guidance, NOT for a job.
- saying exactly what kind of work you want to do.
- expressing gratitude for the person’s help
- showing some understanding that the person has obligations of their own, and you don’t want to take advantage
- focusing on what the people want to do in the future, not on their past
- the first one is much more comprehensive, answering a lot of questions; the second assumes knowledge of the skills needed for the position the person seeks.
- the first one is “cold” – there has been no contact with the person before this. The second one is following up on an introduction made by someone else, hence the “thank you for agreeing to meet with me”
- the first specifies 20 minutes – it is a good length of time while not being intrusive. The second leaves it to the contact to determine length. This is OK because the contact knows that the person will bend to fit their schedule.
Sample 1 is there to show you a complete “intention statement” or “networking” email. It answers a lot of questions and offers a lot of information quickly about what the person can do and wants to do in the future. In the second paragraph, Sentence 1 (in black) is always needed. Sentence 2 (in blue) is optional depending on how well someone knows your field. Sentence 3 (in green) is essential because it answers the question of “where do you want to work? what kind of organization?”, while Sentence 4 (in red) is optional. It’s useful because it answers the sometimes annoying question “have you thought about this company?” (“Of course I have!” you think.) And Sentence 5 (in purple) is optional but a great way to help people place you in the hierarchy and scope of authority by using titles they understand.
You can use these statements in emails and LinkedIn messages, in getting introductions to people on LinkedIn, on your Facebook page announcing your job search, severely edited on your Twitter page as the 160 character description of you, on Google+ as an update, in a snail-mail letter, and at in-person events and functions.
The verbal version is called your “elevator speech.”
The more you say it and write it, the more comfortable you’ll be.