In my last post, you saw two templates for growing your network and locating opportunities for future jobs. Today, I'll share two more templates that focus on requesting an interview—either an informational interview to learn about the organization, or an actual job interview.
Before diving in, a quick refresher on the rules of good email:
- Short emails get responses; long emails get archived. Keep it simple and to the point.
- Do your research. Each email should be customized to the respective recipient. Know why you’re reaching out and what common ground you might have before you start drafting your message. Batch emailing is discouraged.
- Use your subject line wisely. The first thing the recipient sees is the subject line, so it’s important that it clearly states the purpose of the email.
- Have an ask. What do you want the recipient to do when they’ve finished reading your email?
- Some people are going to say “no.” That’s part of asking for anything. Don’t take it personally.
Now that you know what makes a good email, here are some templates. Of course, you should tweak and personalize them based on your situation and personality (see rule #3 above).
How to ask for an informational interview
An informational interview is a commitment-free chance to ask questions about job opportunities and organizations you’re interested in, and it can be a key part of your job search strategy. You may also choose to use informational interviews when you’re not looking for a job to learn more about your area of expertise and grow your network.
The cardinal rule of an informational interview is this: Do not ask for a job. Most likely, the person on the other side of the table knows you’re looking. If they know of something and think you'd be a fit, the person will likely share that information. However, asking for a job during an informational interview makes the conversation seem transactional.
Instead, ask a lot of questions about the person’s work history and career decisions, as well as the pros and cons of their job. Read "How to Land a Job Through an Informational Interview" for a step-by-step of how to move forward with your informational interview once the email has been sent.
But the first step is asking for the interview. Here’s how:
Hi [First name],
My name is [Your name]. I’m a [describe yourself and your professional and/or academic experience], and I came across your name [describe where you got the recipient’s contact info].
Recently, I’ve been working in [industry/job role], but I’m interested in making a move into [desired industry/job role] and I’d love to ask you a few questions in person, if you’re available. I’d especially like to know how you chose a direction and started on your professional path earlier in your career.
I’d be happy to meet with you at whatever location is most convenient, and of course, I’d be happy to adjust my schedule in order to accommodate your timing needs.
Would it be possible for us to meet? I know how busy you must get, so even 20 minutes would be appreciated.
Why this works:
This template is straightforward, but there are a few key things to note:
- When introducing yourself via email, always make sure to include how you found the recipient’s contact information so you don’t seem spammy.
- The phrase “I’m interested in making a move into [industry/job]” is a great way to let the recipient know you’re looking for a job without outright asking for a job.
- Finally, in all your emails make sure the convenience of the recipient has highest priority. If someone is giving up their time to talk to you, your schedule should be flexible and you should be willing to meet them wherever is convenient for them.
After your informational interview, be sure to send a thank you note!
How to pitch a job interview
This one can also be used to pitch freelance consulting work, but use it strategically. The above templates are used to ask for a meeting or an introduction. It’s more serious to ask for a job in an email.
The good news is that all these templates work together in your job search strategy. Using the above templates to get informational meetings, you can be sure that the target organization is looking for someone with your expertise. Then, you can use the below template to pitch your services, even if the job hasn’t been posted yet.
Before you use this template, it’s critical to note that it shouldn’t be used as a cold email to a recipient with whom you have no connection. You should have a contact who knows the hiring manager and who has told you the organization is looking for your expertise.
Hi [First name],
My name is [Your name], and I’m currently [your current job/project/etc]. I’ve been following [organization] for a while. Congratulations on [recent news, publication, event, etc at that organization]!
I spoke/met with [Referrer’s name] recently, and he/she recommended we get in touch. I’m a [name some past accomplishments/awards/recognition/press that show you’re legitimate]. My work has helped [challenge #1 the organization might have, e.g. “increase sponsorship dollars”], [challenge #2 for the organization, e.g.”secure in-kind donations for programs and events], and [challenge #3 for the organization, e.g.”deepen ongoing relationships with current donors”].
I’m interested in making a move from [your current role], and I’d love to chat with you about any opportunities at [person’s organization] as [desired job title].
I’m flexible to your schedule. Would it be possible for us to meet for 20 minutes this week?
Looking forward to talking with you,
Why this works:
Saying congratulations for something after you introduce yourself makes it clear that you have been following the organization’s successes. Already, that sets you apart in the job pool. Then, you follow up your congratulations with proof of your expertise and prior accomplishments.
By identifying challenges the organization may have, you’re doing two things at once. First, you’re showing expertise in your field. The examples above apply to an expert in partnerships or fundraising, but if you work in communications or program management you can probably identify challenges in those departments, too. Second, by listing challenges, you speak directly to the hiring manager’s needs and you cast yourself as the person to solve those problems.
Of all the templates shared so far, this template will require the most customization. You’ll need to change the tone and approach of the email based on how well you know the hiring manager and whatever research you’ve conducted about the organization.
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About the Author | Bennett Garner writes about how to land a new job, talk to anyone, and build a career you love for his insider's list of email subscribers. You can also follow him on Quora where his writing has reached over 570,000 people.