Editor’s Note: This week’s blog features one of the many “headhunter” secrets contained in the international best-selling job hunting book “‘Headhunter’ Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!,” by professional “headhunter” Skip Freeman.
No one answers the phone anymore. Certainly no one responds to your voice mails. And—surprise!—no one answers your emails, either! So, as a job seeker, how do you get your message into the hands—and the minds!—of today’s busy, frazzled hiring managers and other decision-makers?
I’m sure that it will come as no great shock to you that, in today’s hyper-competitive job market, hiring managers get dozens—if not hundreds!—of emails each and every business day. (I get about 300 emails a day on average myself!) So, I have no illusions about how difficult it is to break through the “clutter” facing hiring managers and other decision-makers today, and you shouldn’t either, of course. Nonetheless, there is an approach that you can use to significantly increase the chances that your email will be among the few that actually are opened—and read! It’s an approach we coach all our candidates on in my executive recruiting firm, and it works often enough to give it a try.
Here are the basic considerations of the approach:
- Use a compelling email subject line that will significantly improve the odds that your email will actually get opened by a hiring manager or other decision-maker.
- Make sure you that you properly brand yourself and use the right kind of message, i.e., a message that clearly and quickly conveys what you can do for the hiring manager and his/her company, not what they can do for you, in the body copy of the email.
- Make sure your email communications are part of an overall “touch” plan.
- Send the email to the right email address.
- Ensure that your email communications are just a part of an overall, well-orchestrated, personal marketing package.
The subject line
By far, the most important part of your email is the subject line. If the subject line is not strong enough to get the email opened, then obviously, it doesn’t matter what message is actually contained in the body of the email, does it?
Here are some examples of the types of subject lines that will practically guarantee that your emails will not be opened:
- Skip Freeman’s résumé and cover letter
- Response to your job posting
- I heard you were hiring
- Your Plant Manager’s position
And, of course, the list goes on and on. Most of these types of subject lines face one of two fates: They instantly get hit by the “delete” key or they are automatically forwarded to human resources, where they can easily disappear into a “black hole.”
Here are some examples of subject lines that are far more likely to get your emails opened:
- Quick note regarding your August 5th news release
- Your article in Engineering Technology
- Savvy driver of new business
- Backlog increasing? I can help!
- Is XYZ’s new product affecting ABC’s market share?
- Decreasing fiberglass scrap by 27 percent
Subject lines such as these work because they suggest powerful, current topics that are relevant to the email recipient (hiring manager and his/her company). In other words, these subject lines suggest not what’s in it for you, but rather, what’s in it for the hiring manager and his/her company! Big difference. Certainly, you’re interested in the company hiring you, but guess what? That’s not what the company is interested in at all! As a matter of fact, keep this in mind: No company—and I do mean no company!—is in the business of hiring you or anyone else! The business every company is in is making money, or at least they better be or they won’t survive. So, as I’ve stated so many times before, in a number of different forums, it’s up to you to convince a potential employer of one of two things (or both): That you can make the company money; or, You can save the company money. Usually, everything else is merely unwanted, unwelcome “noise” to a hiring manager and his/her company.
Body of the email
Assuming that the subject line of your email is indeed so compelling that it gets the email opened, you will then have to “deliver” on what is “promised” in the subject line in the actual body of the email. That is to say, you will have to ensure that you properly and quickly brand yourself as someone the company simply must at least consider hiring, as well as stress what, specifically, you can do that will benefit the company, in the message portion of your email. (By the way, make sure all of your emails are “above the scroll.” Emails that look novel-length almost always are immediately hit with the “delete” key because hiring managers simply don’t have the time, or the patience, to wade through lengthy emails.)
Below are two email messages. The first is the “typical” email most job seekers send to hiring managers (I get this kind of email every day!):
Subject line: Follow up to resume
I am following up on my application regarding the sales marketing coordinator’s position. If I can answer any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me or call.
Not too compelling or very original, huh?
This one would work far, far better:
Subject line: XYZ Entertainment is very busy and Amy can help!
With the new Headliners Country Grill opening, and the 75th Birthday Bash coming up in October, I know the XYZ Entertainment marketing team is very busy! Which is why “ya’ll” need some of my creativity, skills, time and energy as the sales and marketing coordinator 🙂
I hope to hear from the HR department and “ya’ll” soon so I can begin helping you with all of the exciting XYZ events!
Amy Smith (Cell: 678-234-5678)
If you were a hiring manager or other decision-maker, which email would you be most likely to a.) Read; and, b.) Respond to?
Make your emails part of an overall ‘touch plan’
An email, like every component of your overall personal marketing plan, should be an integral part of your overall “touch plan.” In order to successfully reach a hiring manager or other decision-maker, you should “touch” them about every ten days with some type of planned, creative communication/contact. I have found that this frequency generally brands a candidate as being persistent and assertive without being overly aggressive, tedious or bothersome. This presupposes, of course, that these “touches” consist of messages that convey an attempt to deliver value to the hiring manager and his/her company, not as suggestive of what the company can do for the candidate.
Coincidentally, “Marketing 101” teaches that it takes, on average, seven “touches” to break through the “clutter” and “noise” and gain a hiring manager’s or other decision-maker’s attention. Most candidates usually give up after just three touches and then wonder why they weren’t successful!
Send your emails to the right address
An email with the best subject line and the most compelling body copy possible can only have a positive effect on your candidacy if it gets to the right person at the right address! If you don’t know the correct email address, a good way to find it is by going to the hiring company’s Website and reading news releases found there. You can often discern the correct email prefix and suffix from these news releases. Usually, a news release will have a statement such as this: “For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.” In this case, then, you can infer that the prefix consists of the first letter of the person’s first name and the suffix (that portion of the email address after the “@” symbol) consists of the company name, followed by “inc” and dot com.
Now, to test if this is indeed the correct formatting for email addresses within the targeted company, go to www.mailtester.com and enter the email address you intend to use for the recipient of your email. (Enter your own email address at www.mailtester.com to see how it works.)
If you can’t verify an email address on www.mailtester.com, try this approach:
- Pick one email address and put it on the “To” line in your email client program.
- Then, go to the “bcc” line and enter as many variations as you can think of for the email address. (Important: It is critical that you place these email address variations on the “bcc” line and not on the “cc” line!)
- When you hit “Send” you will then be able to determine which is the correct email address because it will be the only address to receive the message; all the other variations will be returned as “delivery failure.”
Make your emails just a part of your overall ‘marketing package’
No one thing, no one approach, will ever get you where you want to go in today’s job market, and of course that’s also true when it comes to your email messages. They must be just a part, albeit, an integral part, of your overall, consistent, personal “marketing package.” In addition to your emails, that personal marketing package should be comprised of your telephone calls (and voice mails), LinkedIn invitations, InMail, connections made with administrative assistants to hiring managers, and, yes, even “snail” mail communications.
How do I know the approach and techniques outlined in this blog actually work? Because, as a “headhunter,” I use them each and every business day to effectively reach out to hiring managers and other decision-makers to successfully market job candidates! Think about it, if this approach didn’t work, I would soon be out of business!
Are you ready to start breaking through the “clutter” and “noise” to effectively reach a hiring manager or other decision-maker? Are you ready to start branding yourself as someone who can bring real value to the hiring company, rather than automatically being branded by a hiring manager as being “just another candidate”? Are you ready to learn how to be perceived as someone who is persistent without being overly aggressive? If you can answer “yes” to these questions (and other related questions), then get ready to significantly stand out from your competition (other job seekers) and gain substantial momentum toward getting the job of your dreams!
Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.