The benefit of “Cold” Job Applications

As I mentioned in a previous piece, employers who place job ads typically receive hundreds of resumes. Thus, if you only apply to posted jobs, you’ll be one of 200 to 300 (or more) resumes in a pile on someone’s desk. In this case, you’ll need a great resume and a bit of luck to get on the short list of candidates.

As an employer, I can tell you that there were many time when we wished we didn’t have to take the time to draft a job ad, pay to place the ad and sift through hundreds of resumes. It would have been great if some magical candidate with a great resume would just email us out of the blue to say: “Hey, if you’re too lazy to post a job ad and sift through hundreds of resumes, then perhaps I’m the right candidate for your company.” I’m not kidding. 

Many large corporations and government organizations have strict guidelines on hiring protocol (e.g., jobs must be posted for xxx days, etc.). However, most small to medium-sized businesses just want to hire a great person – no matter how it comes about. 

If you’ve taken the time to write a great resume, don’t limit your applications only to jobs that are advertised where you know you will be in a highly competitive situation. Rather, research companies or people you’d like to work with and send them a short email with your resume. 

A few points to consider.

  1. Statisically, you’ll likely get a 1-3% response rate on your cold emails. However, if you have a great resume, you have nothing to lose. Find 100 or more companies to “cold” email and you’ll likely get a few responses.
  2. You can usually get lists of local companies from your Chamber of Commerce, Google Map searches, participation lists from conferences in your field of interest, websites of Venture Capital or Angel Investment groups that list small businesses they have funded, etc.
  3. Be bold. Your “cold” email has to make an impact – usually within the first 10-15 words. Remember, people who are in a position to hire someone but don’t have the time to post a job ad tend to be extremely busy. They need you to get to the point. You’re going to lose them quickly if you use a vanilla script like 

“Dear Sir or Madam. 

My name is Joe Doe and I’m a recent xxx graduate. I was researching companies in my field and ….”

Did your eyes glaze over? Mine did (and I wrote it).

Instead, write something different that will get the reader’s attention immediately. Something like


If you’re looking to hire a young xxx professional but don’t have the time to sift through hundreds of resumes, then perhaps I’m the right candidate for your company.

I have attached my resume which highlights my diverse experience in xx, yy and zz. I know I can add value to your organization and look forward to hearing from you.”

The reader will either love it or hate it. Either way, I guarantee they will read it. You have nothing to lose.  

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