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Avoid Recruiters: Embrace Cold Email February 26, 2020

Have you been excitedly sending out your polished post-bootcamp resume and cover letter, but are disappointed with the response rate? Maybe you have sent out over 100 applications but you have only received automated rejection emails? Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common, but it’s easily remedied by using the cold email strategy:

 

Why You Aren’t Getting Responses

The reason you aren’t getting any responses is that your application is being weeded out by a recruiter. Consider the way a hiring manager will come across your application. Unless it’s a really small company, that decision-maker will not be an engineer. If it's a recruiter (or someone in HR’s) job to sift through the huge stack of applications and deliver a curated selection to the hiring manager to look through. Anyone who has ever screened applications can tell you how many unqualified people apply for a job. It would be a waste of the hiring manager’s time to make a decision on every application that comes in. 

Hiring managers are risk-averse: the cost of a bad hire is steep, not only to the bottom line but to the morale of the team. The first screen is designed to eliminate candidates who are deemed risky. Risky can mean many things, but in general, it means people who don’t meet the original criteria specified. The easiest way to avoid risky candidates is to screen out candidates without previous engineering experience. The best predictor of future behavior is previous behavior, so it makes sense to look for people who have already done similar work. It’s reasonable to assume that they will do similar work for your company. This unfortunately means that bootcamp students often don’t make it past the first round of screening, and the engineering team almost never even sees your application or knows that you applied.

 

Get Past The First Screen

The reason you aren’t getting any responses is that your application is being weeded out by a recruiter. Embrace the art of cold emailing and avoid HR and recruiters altogether. Stop waiting in line at the front door with everyone else, go directly to the back door and knock! By reaching out to a potential teammate or hiring manager, you are automatically bypassing the first screen. 

It’s as simple as this: After applying to a job, find the hiring manager or a potential teammate for the position, then send them a direct email with an informative blurb about yourself and how you would add value to the team. Your goal is to get them on the phone to talk about the position. This individual will be evaluating you as a whole person, and not just another application that either checks the boxes or not. Now someone on the actual team is considering whether you would be a good fit. If they respond to your email, congratulations - you have just received your first interview!

 

Zero emails

Bypass Recruiters

To a recruiter, you are an application. To an engineer, you are a potential teammate. Recruiters are looking for candidates with very specific criteria that were given to them by the hiring manager. A recruiter is restricted to the list of criteria that the hiring manager gives them, effectively rejecting many qualified job seekers who do not check all the boxes that would otherwise make a good employee. 

However, if you do find yourself working with a recruiter, be sure to clearly articulate your value to them, so they can consider you as a candidate even if you don’t “check all of the boxes” on paper.

 

How To Send A Cold Email:

Now that you know cold emails are effective, let’s talk about how to do it. Remember, when looking for a job, you are trying to connect with people rather than trying to impress them. Just remember, a human being is hiring you, not a machine. Follow the steps below:

 

1. After you apply for a job, find someone who works at the company. This person should either be a potential peer or supervisor, not a recruiter.

2. Find their email using services like: https://hunter.io/ or http://findthat.email/

3. Send an email like the one below describing the value you can add, and make a request to talk to them on the phone about the position.

 

Hi {First name},

I hope this email finds you well. I recently came across the {Position Name} role at {Company name} and would like to discuss the opportunity with someone on the team. I reached out to you because of {something in common with the person. Your goal is to connect with the reader in the first paragraph}.

 

As I detail below, {short summary of the value you can add, you’ll expand on this below} makes me a great candidate for this position:

 

  • {Skill or experience, with a brief story or metric to back up your claim} Example: I have three years of experience working at a large software company with a complex codebase where I worked with engineers to develop new features.

  • I have built {Technical project you have built} {languages/frameworks used to build project} Example: I have built frontend apps using React/Redux and know Javascript well.

  • {another bullet point the same as the ones above about how you would add value}

 

{1 - 2 sentences about why you are excited about this opportunity and re-emphasizing why you would be a good fit}

 

Thank you for taking the time to review my email. 

 

I was wondering if you would be open to a 10-minute chat on the phone? I know this might be a busy time for you, so if I don’t hear back I will follow up in a week.

 

Thanks,

 

{your name}

{personal website} - {your Github} - {LinkedIn}

 

 

LinkedIn Method

1. Send a LinkedIn connection request with a note. The note should say something like: Hi [NAME], I just applied to the [JOB TITLE] at [COMPANY] and would love to chat with someone about the position. [ONE SENTENCE BRIEFLY DESCRIBING THE VALUE YOU CAN ADD]. Hoping to connect, thanks! 

2. Once they (hopefully) accept your LinkedIn Connection request, send the same type of email as Step 3 above.

Always make sure your email allows people to easily learn more about you. You should always include links to things you are talking about in the email. Don’t get too caught up with the templates. Experiment with your emails and find what works with you.

 

In Conclusion

Upon graduating from a bootcamp, don’t rely on your software engineering experience alone. You are competing for jobs with people who often have more experience than you do, so standing out is important. I highly recommend people spend just as much time cold emailing as they do applying to jobs. The students I’ve worked with who embrace this method have a significantly higher response rate than those turning in applications alone. Don’t forget, your goal is to make a connection with them as a human being, and to present how both your hard and soft skills will be an asset to their team!

Written by Zach

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