At Studio 63 we get a lot of cold emails. From suppliers to students looking for internships to veteran designers looking for a change. All different asks, but they all fall into the same category: the cold email. What is a cold email? It is when someone who has never met you or has never connected through Linkedin, contacts you with a request. We all have to do the same thing sometime in our lives and sometimes it is difficult to get a reply back.

I went through the last 30 days of portfolio submissions on our site and noticed a few things that were good and some things that you should not do when cold emailing a design agency.

Keep your emails short. Agencies get a lot of emails besides all the emails asking for internships or jobs. Keep them short, easy and actionable. Make sure you include:

  • Who are you (one sentence)

  • Why do you want to work there?

  • Here is why you should hire me (check out my stuff)

Don’t state you are looking for “experience”. That doesn’t sound like you are committed and are only looking out for yourself.

  • You want to work on the same projects you see the agency working on. Tell them that.
  • Be specific about why you want to work there.

  • Tell them what projects you are curious about. Ask how or why did they do it that way.

Attach your resume, don’t write it in the body of the email.

  • Repeat #1: Keep your emails short.

  • Your resume doesn’t usually matter as much as your portfolio.
  • Forget about infographic resumes. What does 10% photoshop bar graph skills actually mean?

Your subject line should be a hook to make someone want to open it.

  • Think of yourself as a product. You need to sell yourself.
  • Make them think they are missing out if they don’t open your email.
  • Don’t be boring. “Application for design job” is not a good subject line. 

Can you add to the company on day one?

  • Have the attitude that you could. Stop self-doubting.
  • Tell them how you could help.

  • If you think you could do better than something on their site. Re-do it and attach it to your email. Show them your skills even before they check out your portfolio. You don’t need permission.

Use a small amount of humour or be light-hearted. There isn’t much of this in the business world of communication. Take advantage of this fact.

  • Make them smile.
  • Can you be cheeky without offending?
  • Humour is more memorable. Which is your goal. Be remembered.

Make your email more personable. Don’t make it seem like you sent this same email to 100 other potential employers. Show them you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in working there.

  • Who is the owner of the agency? Can you find out who answers the email you are sending to?

  • Can you find out their hobbies or interests?

  • Do you know exactly what they’ve designed in the past?

  • Use this info to connect to your viewer in some way. Stand out.

Be creative. Be memorable

  • What about sending a video. See Loom software for that.

  • Go beyond email. Send a package or parcel. Yes, this is about email writing but having a plan B works as well.

  • Have an email signature dedicated to just finding employment? Use humour or good hard-to-miss graphics/images.

Be appreciative. They are doing you a favour.

  • Be accepting of getting no-reply’s at first.

  • Be grateful for their time. Mention that in your email.
  • Use positive language at all times.

Write just like you talk. Don’t use big words. Be clear, not clever.

  • Write your email as if you were talking to them at a cocktail party or network event.
  • Read it out loud before sending it (I read this post out loud). If it sounds weird and robot-like, this is where you’ll know and have the ability to change it.
  • Say hi/hello and end with a grateful thanks or thank you.

So try any of these strategies or actions for your next cold email. Takes notes on if they opened it, how they responded, what was in your email. These are not guarantees to getting a job, but they will help you have more confidence in sending cold emails.

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