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How to Jump Ahead in Your Job-Search Using Cold Emails!

Updated: Jun 26, 2021

Written By: Eric Frasco

In our recent feature "How I Found My Job During COVID", interviewee Samanee Mahbub from Transfix stressed "Cold Emailing" as an important skill for your job search. And as our mentors Tedd and Mario say, it's not just about looking for opportunities, it's about making them.

But what is Cold Emailing? Who do you email? How can you use it to create new opportunities?

What is Cold Emailing? Who do you email?

What is it? Simple - an unsolicited email sent to an individual or small group, without prior contact. In the context of a job search, this means reaching out to potential employers about opportunities.

Targets for Cold Emailing often come from your existing network, such as LinkedIn connections. You can find The RE: Project's advice on networking here.

As Samanee detailed however, contacts also come from identifying "windows of opportunity" in your sector. Look at the companies you are interested in and ask "who is still hiring?", "who is growing", "what are their current roles", and "what do they still need?".

With all this in mind - could you pitch them a job? Request an internship? From here, you can connect with the HR department ( target 3-5 people, at least) or a potential supervisor for a position (if you know their name, e.g. if they are listed at the point of contact for an application).

But how do you do it?

Once you are ready to cold-email, keep three things in mind: what exactly you want, why they want to hear from you, and what you can bring to the table. Here are five ways to get there:

1) Tailor your message to your target. As Samanee said, this means you have to do your research beforehand. You need to understand what the organization does, what team you would be (or want to be) joining, and where you fit in. Relatedly, you need to make clear why you are emailing them specifically. This means you shouldn’t target just anybody!

2) Qualify yourself! Who are you and why do you matter to the organization? You do not necessarily have to be somebody of "status", but you have to find a commonality. Did you go to the same university? Are you from the same area? You need to personalize your email in order to hook your target in.

3) Target the employer's needs. Do you have a specialised skill set that they are lacking? Was there a recently advertised position? Your email shouldn’t leave your target hanging. For example, you shouldn’t simply state, “I am looking for a job and find your company interesting”, but that you, “ have (x) skills in (y), which will greatly benefit the (z) team”. What makes them want to hear from you?

4) Come with a specific ask. Your email needs to be actionable and to the point. You want an internship? Say it! If you want to ask for a phone call or coffee, do it, and make sure you tell them why.

5) Get your writing style and format down. Be short, easy to read, and appreciative. Short emails are always more likely to be read and - if you follow point 4 - to be responded to! Also remember that you are the stranger asking for a favor. Watch your email tone and make sure you sound grateful, not brusque or pushy.


To make things more clear, here is a sample of a successful Cold Email from one of the graduates in our network:

Good afternoon (x),

I hope this email finds you well. My name is (a) and I am also an alumni of (b)! I am very interested in the (c) work of your organization, and believe that my skills in (d) would be of great benefit to the (e) team. As I see you are expanding and hiring in several areas of the organization, I am writing to ask if you are considering opening new positions in (f)? Your work in (g) has been inspiring and I would love to be involved and offer my expertise to the organization. If you have time this week, I would love to discuss further! I would also be interested in other opportunities, such as the (h) position.

My Skype details are (i) or you could call me at (phone number). Please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Thank you very much for your time and I hope to speak with you soon!

Best wishes,



Haven't seen the interview with Samanee Mahbub from Transfix, yet? Watch it here:

Learn more details about Samanee's career journey and job searching resources here!

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One of the biggest reasons behind the high unemployment rate among recent grads is the gap between the structured academic training and the “messiness” of the real-world career market. This is especially true for International Development students, with an average of 0–3 years of experience, that look for impact-driven work. However, the development sector requires significant work experience, specialization, and networking to break into — none of which academic training alone can offer.

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