How to Write a Good Cold Email for Job Applications

Cold emails can triple your application responses, so learn how to write a great cold email that will move you into the interview stage.

Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu
Jul 29, 2020
Min Read

This guest post was provided by Pathrise, an online mentorship program that works with students and professionals on every component of their job search. Pathrise has helped 500+ people land great jobs in tech through their workshops and 1-on-1 mentorship.

Most people send their resumes into online application portals and hope for the best. Unfortunately, that is not enough to get noticed when hundreds of people are applying for the same roles, which is often the case when you're looking to join large tech companies. So, how can you stand out and get your resume into the hands of someone who will read it?

At Pathrise, we work with job-seekers every day to help them move through their job search more quickly than they would on their own. One of the best ways to do this is to write compelling and concise cold emails that briefly explain who you are and why you're a good fit for the role.

Our fellows have found that sending cold emails along with their applications has tripled their response rate. In this article, we have outlined how to find the right people to email, what to say, and when to follow up so that you can get more responses to your applications, too.

How to find the right person to email

The first step is to make sure that you're sending your email to the right person at the organization.

Finding this perfect person depends on the type of company you're interested in. For example, if you're looking to work at a small startup, you can likely find a senior designer or even a leadership-level designer to email, but if you want to work at a big tech company like Facebook, you should focus on a technical recruiter responsible for hiring on the design team.

For smaller companies, you can visit their website to see if they have a team page where you can get information on the employees. Otherwise, you can use LinkedIn to search the company and find technical recruiters or design team leads.

When you're reviewing the employees, try to look for people who have a connection to you. If you can warm up this cold email with a commonality, it will be even stronger. Some examples would be: you grew up in the same city, went to the same school, or share a hobby.

Find their email address

Once you decide which team member makes the most sense for you to email, it is time to get their email address.

We recommend Clearbit to our fellows because it is free, though it does have a limit on the number of people you can search. If you reach that limit or if Clearbit doesn’t have the person you're interested in emailing, you can try to guess their email address using these common patterns:


Learn more about how to find a hiring manager’s email address in our guide.

Write a great cold email

Now that you know who you're emailing and how to email them, you need to write the email that will move your resume into the phone screen pile.

The first step to a strong cold email is a subject line that hooks the reader in. Your subject line should focus on the connection that you have with the employee so that they are more likely to open it.

Here are some examples:

  • Fellow Northwestern alum passionate about Google opening
  • Dog and design lover reaching out
  • Opening on your team for another New Yorker?

You should avoid vague subject lines like “An inquiry” or “A request” as well as ones that don’t relate to the person reading it, like “Regarding my Twitch app.”

For the content of your email, you should follow this general structure:

Quick introduction (who you are and why you are reaching out)

I recently applied for the [position] I saw on [platform] and noticed you're a [role] at [company]. While I am not sure if you're the right person to contact, I definitely have the experience that the team is seeking.

What can you do for them? Why should they read your resume?

I have just finished UX Academy at Designlab and have been working on freelance projects, along with my coursework, to build up my portfolio. I’ve worked on 10+ design projects focusing on user research, wireframing, prototyping, responsive design, and even some front-end development. I'm excited for the opportunity to work at [company] and help you accomplish your mission of [mission statement]. I know my experience and expertise can make me a valuable asset to the team.

End with a strong call-to-action that makes it easy for them

I know you're probably busy, but I would appreciate it if you could take a little time to chat with me so I can learn more about [specific role/team]. Would you be free for a 15-minute call either [timeframe 1] or [timeframe 2]?

Say thank you, include your full name, and make sure your email signature is set up with your contact info and a link to your portfolio.

You should also attach your resume to the email so that the reader can check it out if they are interested. This is also helpful because it makes it easier for them to forward your email to the recruiter. For more examples of what to say in your cold email for job applications, check out our guide.

If you don’t hear back, you can follow up in one week. Just make sure you're polite in your follow up. Keep it short and sweet, just reiterate that you're very interested in the role and give another set of times to see if they can chat with you.

You will not hear back from every cold email and that’s ok! Just remember to always be friendly, and you'll likely see a result from sending them.

Pathrise is an online program that works with students and professionals to land their dream job. Mentors work 1-on-1 with fellows on each component of their job search, including resume, LinkedIn, and portfolio optimization, cold emailing, behavioral & technical interviewing, and negotiation. If you are interested in joining Pathrise, apply here.

If you’re interested in building your product design skills—start now! Explore Designlab's short courses to expand your skills, or check out our rigorous UX Academy program.​​

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Launch a career in ux design with our top-rated program

Top Designers Use Data.

Gain confidence using product data to design better, justify design decisions, and win stakeholders. 6-week course for experienced UX designers.