Well-written cold emails can see a reply rate of 20% or more. For candidates sending standard job applications, the reply rate is far lower than that.

If you want hiring managers to notice your applications, cold email is an excellent way to get in touch.

In this guide, you’ll learn the multiple benefits of cold email for job searches and see our step-by-step process to using cold email to land your dream role. We’ll also show you proven templates you can use to get a head start.

  1. Why Use Cold Email in Your Job Search?

  2. Step-by-Step Process: Using Cold Email for a Job

  3. Best Practices When Cold Emailing for Jobs

  4. 3 Cold Email Templates for Landing Your Dream Job

Let’s jump in.

Why Use Cold Email in Your Job Search?

1. Jump the Application Queue

When a hiring manager publishes a new job ad, it won’t be long before they’re swamped with applications.

If you apply three days after the application went live and there are already 100+ qualified candidates who have applied, it’s challenging to stand out.

However, most of those applicants aren’t leveraging email.

By sending an email, you’ll land at the top of their inbox, rather than at the bottom of the application pile.

If your cold email makes it obvious why the hiring manager needs to be considering you, they will be happy to respond and set up a meeting.

2. Get On Your Dream Company’s Rader Before They Open a Role

Cold email isn’t only relevant when applying to open roles.

When setting career goals, most people already have a set of companies in mind that they’d love to work at.

You can use cold email to send speculative applications to CEOs, founders, or hiring managers at these companies to explain your interest in being involved in their journey and give some brief details on your skills.

Many companies want to hear from speculative applicants. For example, Whereby have a role open on their application tracking system specifically for this:

Source: Whereby - Open Speculative Application

If your skills and background make sense for the company, you’ll be the first to hear when they open a relevant role and have an excellent shot at getting to the interview stage.

3. Stand Out With Personalization

Hiring managers expect personalization.

When it comes to standard applications, 27% of hiring managers say it’s “very important” for applicants to tailor their cover letter to the specific role they’re applying to, and only 5% say it’s “not important”.

Source: Cover Letter Statistics for 2023 (Survey of Hiring Managers)

The best part about cold email is that as well as personalizing your cover letter and application, you can write a unique and personalized cold email to that specific hiring manager.

As soon as they open your email, they’ll see that you’ve researched them, the company, and the role. If your experience is relevant, they’ll be happy to respond.

Step-by-Step Process: Using Cold Email for a Job

1. Have a Clearly Defined Ideal Role

The first step to using cold email to land a new job is to understand two things:

  • The type of company you want to work at

  • The job title or role you want

With those two things in mind, you’ll be able to narrow down your search.

If you’re in a position where you have a wealth of experience and are flexible when it comes to the industry or exact job title, you should segment your search into batches for each specific type.

For example, if you’re a sales development representative with experience in both enterprise SaaS, but also have experience selling solar, you’d create two separate lists of opportunities.

You’ll craft a unique campaign for each type of role you’re applying to. 

This will take slightly longer, but it means you can personalize your job search outreach templates more effectively and improve your odds of getting a response.

2. Search for Open Roles That Match Your Criteria

Next, it’s time to search for relevant job openings.

In one browser tab you’ll need a spreadsheet to log every company, vacancy name, hiring manager name, and hiring manager email address you find.

You can add extra columns for any other relevant information you want to reference, such as a link to a job advert.

On the other tab, you can have a site like Indeed or LinkedIn open with a list of vacancies that match your key criteria.

As you work through the list, you can note the key details about each role in your spreadsheet.

Research shows that it takes 21 to 80 applications to land a new role, so make sure to add a good number of opportunities to your list.

3. Identify the Hiring Manager at Each Company

It’s crucial that you reach out to the right person at a company.

If you contact a generic email address, such as recruitment@company.com, you’ll see far fewer responses than if you contacted someone’s personal email.

LinkedIn will show you who is responsible for hiring directly on job ads, so this is a productive way to do this.

Once you know who is responsible, you can use an email-finding tool like Anymail Finder to identify their email address.

Once you have the email address, you can add it to your spreadsheet.

If you can’t immediately find their email, don’t worry. There are multiple free and paid methods you can try, such as using an email permutator to guess based on common email structures or even using search operators in Google search to see if someone’s email has ever been published online.

When your target list of hiring managers is ready, it’s time to start creating your job search email templates.

4. Write a Personalized Cold Email to Each Hiring Manager

Your cold email template needs to:

  • Be personalized to each hiring manager

  • Be brief enough that they can skim it

  • Quickly show what you can bring to the table

  • Have a simple call-to-action that’s easy to reply to

If you can include those four factors, you’ll see high reply rates and stand an excellent chance of getting interviews.

The easiest way to send your cold emails at scale is with a cold email tool, like QuickMail.

Even if you send 100 emails in a campaign, every email will be addressed to each unique recipient. 

Here’s an example email template in QuickMail’s email editor: 

As you can see, the email is personalized, there’s proof of past results, and it’s easy to read.

If the recruiter thinks you’re a fit, they’ll respond immediately.

The custom attributes in the template, such as {{prospect.first_name}} will take information from your recipient spreadsheet.

You can add any custom information you need, and when you send your campaign, QuickMail will automatically use the information from your spreadsheet.

It’s a powerful way to get more replies and send more emails in less time.

5. Schedule Your Email Campaign with Follow-Ups to Boost Responses

Not all of your hiring managers will respond even if you’re a perfect fit for their vacancy.

In fact, 55% of replies to cold emails don’t come from the first email, but from a follow-up step.

QuickMail allows you to automatically follow up with recruiters and hiring managers if they don’t reply.

After your first email, add a wait step. In most cases, three days are enough. After all, if you leave it too long, there’s a risk that they hire someone else.

After this step, add your next email step.

The email editor will show again, and you can write a polite follow-up email.

In your follow-up, you can:

  • Ask if they’re still hiring

  • Share another interesting project you’ve worked on

  • Test another call-to-action, such as asking if there’s anyone else at the company you can contact about the role

If the hiring manager missed your initial email, they’ll be reminded and you’ll get in front of them again.

For most job seekers, three to four follow-up email steps are enough.

If a hiring manager hasn’t responded by then, you’d be best off applying through the traditional channels.

6. Track Your Job Search Outreach Campaign Metrics

QuickMail allows you to track your key email metrics, which can help you understand how well your emails are performing.

By default, QuickMail will track:

  • Your email open rate

  • Your email reply rate

  • Your click-through rate (if you include links)

  • Your bounce rate

  • Your unsubscribe rate

You can use this data to understand what your emails are doing right or wrong.

For example, if you have an 80% reply rate but only a 5% reply rate, you can assume that either the hiring managers you’re contacting aren’t the right people or your email template isn’t personalized enough.

If your bounce rate is over 5%, it’s a signal that the email addresses you sourced aren’t accurate enough. 

Always aim for a 10-20% reply rate and strive to keep your bounce rate under 3-5% for the best results.

Best Practices When Cold Emailing for Jobs

1. Focus on Personalization Over Scale

When people first start using cold email software, they’re often tempted to send hundreds of emails at once, just because the tools allow for it.

When it comes to cold email for job searching, you need to take the opposite approach.

Craft small but personalized campaigns for the best results. When a hiring manager sees your email, they will see that you’ve done your research into them. Your email will stand out in their inbox compared to any generic templates they’re receiving from other potential candidates.

2. Start Conversations Rather than Book Interviews

Your cold email isn’t supposed to instantly land you an interview.

The main goal in every email is to generate a positive reply from a recruiter or hiring manager.

You can use call-to-actions (CTAs) at the end of your emails such as:

  • “Do you think my background would be a fit for the role?”

  • “Would you mind if I sent you a few more questions?”

  • “Are you the person in charge of hiring for this role?”

CTAs like these are simple but make it easy for someone to reply.

Considering that getting a reply is the hardest part of cold outreach, it’s critical to maximize your chances.

As soon as a hiring manager replies, you’ll be on their radar and they won’t ignore you when you reply back to them.

After several back-and-forth emails and if there’s a fit, the hiring manager will send you an invite to interview.

3. Verify Emails Before Reaching Out

One of the biggest barriers to success in job search outreach is sourcing emails and landing in the inbox.

For every email you send that bounces, it’s a missed opportunity. 

To ensure every email you send is to a valid email, you can use an email verification tool like NeverBounce, Dropcontact, or ZeroBounce.

These will check the validity of the mailbox and tell you if they can receive emails.

You can also run these checks directly inside QuickMail. Just head to your prospect list, and select the ‘Verify email validity’ option.

If an email isn’t valid, it’ll be removed from your job search outreach campaign. If it is, you know it’s safe to send and your email will land in their inbox.

4. Don’t Overthink the Subject Line

Lots of people overthink their email subject line, which causes delays to your campaign.

Your job search cold email subject line needs to be simple and show that you’re a real person reaching out.

That means:

  • Don’t capitalize every word in your sentence

  • Avoid using emojis or all-caps

  • Mention the job title or company name

Some example subject lines you could use include:

  • Interested in your [job title] vacancy

  • Question about [job title] role at {{company.name}}

  • Applying for [job title]

There’s no secret to writing effective subject lines, so don’t spend hours overthinking it.

As long as it’s relevant to the rest of your email, your recipients will open and read your message.

3 Cold Email Templates for Landing Your Dream Job

Email Template Example #1

Subject: Ideas for {{company.name}} + application

Hi {{prospect.first_name}},

I saw you shared on Twitter that you’re hiring for {{prospect.custom.Job_Title}}. 

Instead of sending a CV and cover letter like everyone else, I put together this [custom project] that outlines how {{company.name}} could hit your marketing targets this year.

I’ve worked in three similar companies to {{company.name}} and have a solid understanding of the industry.

Do you think it’s worth a 15-minute introductory conversation this week?



Email Template Example #2

Subject: Applying for {{company.name}}’s open role

Hi {{prospect.first_name}},

I’m {{inbox.name}} – a software engineer with ten years of experience in biotech. Noticed that {{company.name}} is hiring for someone to build out your B2B product and think I’d make a good fit. 

At [past company], I was the project lead on [relevant project] which had [positive outcome].

Is it worth a conversation?



Email Template Example #3

Subject: Who should I contact about {{prospect.custom.Job_Vacancy}}

Hi {{prospect.first_name}},

Noticed that {{company.name}} is hiring a new {{prospect.custom.Job_Vacancy}} in your New York offices.

I had a few questions about the role that I was hoping someone could clarify before I apply. 

Are you the best person to ask about this?



In Summary

Reaching out to recruiters and hiring managers using cold email is a powerful way to apply for jobs.

You will stand out by showing you’re proactive, and it’s an excellent way to build rapport with the hiring manager in control of who gets picked for an interview.

Using a cold email tool like QuickMail is a low-cost way to automate the process and reach out to more recruiters in less time. 

Once you start your free trial, you’ll have access to all of the core features, and your emails will be just as personalized as if you send them one by one, so it’s a powerful lever to improve your productivity.