How to Cold Email for a Job

Sending a cold email with your job application can triple your response rate. We recommend job seekers reach out to recruiters with a cold email after every single job they apply for. With so many cold emails, it can be tempting to quickly write a casual email message. But how to email a friend or colleague is not how to cold email for a job.

When writing a cold email, the stakes are high. Assuming you stick to the same general cold email template, and most job seekers do, you may send the same cold email hundreds of times before you get a job. A single mistake in your cold email template will be repeated hundreds of times. A few words could be the difference between landing your dream job or continuing to reach out without hearing back.          

Recruiters are so busy that they can only spend about 7 seconds looking at a resume. While a cold email could double or even triple the time your resume spends in front of the recruiter, most cold emails get ignored. In order to actually get a response, every sentence of your cold email should be optimized to increase your odds of an interview. Thankfully, there’s a science to writing the best cold email for a job possible, backed by data.

How to cold email for a job application using AI?

To create the best cold email for a job possible, you have roughly 3 options: 

  • Use an AI tool like Career Connect or ChatGPT to generate a cold email for you.
  • Write the cold email yourself from scratch. 
  • Customize an online cold email template like the one below.
  • Check out our new and improved recruiter guides to learn more

We recommend a combination of all 3 approaches. You can use AI to generate a cold email, then customize the cold email template as necessary. Free apps like Career Connect can generate the perfect cold email via AI. This AI tool writes a customized email for you, then sends these optimized cold emails to recruiters and hiring managers. You can even use ChatGPT to write your resume first draft to attach in the cold email.

While there is no substitute for a human touch, we’ve found that, on average, AI usually writes the most effective outreach emails for you because AI automatically incorporates the most important keywords from the job posting. Humans often neglect to do this, or simply don’t have the time. However, it’s still important that you know how to cold email for a job application without using AI. You’ll likely have to personalize emails when you have a special connection with a recruiter. Take a look at our cold email template below. When you understand the components that make up a successful cold email, you can use them in your networking and job search. The same cold email writing principles apply to interview follow-up emails, LinkedIn outreach, and even cold emails you’ll send at work. 

Cold email template:

Hi [Recruiter name],

I hope you’re having an excellent day so far! I am reaching out in relation to my application for the [Job from LinkedIn with link to the posting] position at [Company], and I’m enthusiastic about the opportunity to discuss my potential contribution to your team.

I just had to share that I think the work [company] is doing to [mission of company] is [incredible/impactful/important]. I’m very excited about the opportunity to help build [technology platform or specific product] because [insert personal anecdote here if you have one]. My proficiency with [relevant skills or technology] makes me confident that I could [make an immediate impact/hit the ground running] on a team at [company].

I am very enthusiastic about the opportunity to join [company] and contribute to your team. Could we schedule a time sometime this month to discuss my application and how my skills align with your needs?


[Your name]

What should you write in a cold email for a job application? What are the parts?

The most critical components that should be in a cold email are:

  • A friendly greeting (with personal connection if possible)
  • Your interest in the company and their mission
  • A brief list of your applicable skills and achievements
  • How you could make an impact (Usually just copied from the job duties)
  • A call-to-action (CTA) asking to connect

The friendly greeting beginning the email is simple, but because it may include a personal connection, it’s often the most important part of the email. Make sure to quickly state any connection to the recruiter such as a shared university, company, city, or even personal interest. Often, you won’t have any personal connection, like in the cold email template above. That’s ok. But including a connection in your cold email will significantly increase response rates.

When writing about your enthusiasm for the role and company, search for the company’s missions and values online. Then explain how you personally align with these publicly available mission and value statements. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Our cold email template above just mentions that the job seeker is enthusiastic about the company’s publicly stated mission. It’s only a sentence, but expressing enthusiasm in a specific value or mission of the company proves that you did your research and understand what the company does. This is exactly what recruiters seek from talent.

The body of the email should explain how your unique skills and experiences make you a good fit to make an impact in the role. The key to this section is to show how your skills and experiences would benefit the company, especially if those skills are mentioned in the job description. You can even copy and paste phrases from the job description directly into your email, such as required skills and desired impact. Restating part of the job description won’t come off as inauthentic. Rather, it shows the recruiter that you did your homework and understand how you could benefit the company in the role.

Finally, you close the email with a call to action asking to set up a meeting. Suggesting specific dates can make the email more actionable and increase response rate. For example, we closed our cold email template by asking to meet “this month”.

How to write a cold email subject line for job application?

A cold email subject line has to do more than give a brief description–the subject line should entice the recruiter or hiring manager into opening your email. After all, most cold emails won’t get a response. Many are never opened due to dull subject lines. 

Your subject line should pique curiosity. However, be careful of subject lines that are too attention grabbing or that might come off as “clickbait”. These emails may be opened, but they’re unlikely to get a response, or at least a positive one. A strong cold email subject line will give the recipient a snapshot of who you are and what you bring to the company. 

The most effective subject lines also include a connection to the recruiter or hiring manager that makes the email matter to them, specifically. Common connections include being alumni from the same school, working for the same company in the past, or attending the same industry networking event. While you can include the recruiter’s name if you want, this runs the risk of coming off as inauthentic. Examples of effective subject lines with connections include:

  • Referral from your colleague, [referrer name]
  • Hi [name], [referrer name] recommended I reach out
  • [Referrer name] said we should connect to talk about [industry trend]
  • [Company name] intro? [Name], great to meet you at [event name] yesterday — want to chat?

You might not have any connection at all. That’s ok. When you don’t have anything specific in common with the recruiter, you can mention specific skills you have that may be relevant to the job description. Even just your interest in the company can work.

  • [your name], software engineer with [skills listed in job description]
  • [your name], back-end developer passionate about [company]

Avoid vague subject lines (An inquiry”), subject lines that are too long (ex: “Cornell student with 2 years of dev experience interested in software engineer role at Google”), and dull subject lines (ex: “Regarding my Google app”), and too long 

How long should your cold email for a job be?

About 100-200 words is the short answer. The long answer is that emails between 60 and 500 words all have reasonable response rates (45-50%). If your email is longer than 2,500 words, the response rate goes down significantly. 

However, longer emails over 2,000 can often have extremely high response rates when highly personalized. If you have a personal connection to a recruiter, like attending the same university or networking event, the email might run longer in order to explain the connection. This is completely fine. Personalization is far more important than aiming for some specific word count. While you don’t want to overwhelm the recruiter or hiring manager, a thorough customized email will help you stand out. 

Cold email word count vs. response rate

Just make sure that the cold email isn’t fluff or oversharing. You should never include sentences telling your life story, why you need the job, or even your personal interests. Unless it’s related to the recruiter or why you’re a good fit, leave it out of the cold email. 

You can use the Career Connect app to generate an example of how to incorporate personal information without unnecessary information. The app can use your resume to generate a personalized cold email for a job application, delivering a highly customized cold email template.

Who should you cold email for a job?

Recruiters and hiring managers are generally the most receptive to cold emails. However, company executives or relevant managers may also be recipients.

To find recruiters and their email addresses, use an AI tool like Career Connect. This Chrome Extension instantly finds the emails of decision makers connected to a job post you’re applying to. These AI apps allow you to immediately cold email the right recruiters and hiring managers without spending hours conducting research yourself.

When should you cold email for a job application?

As soon as you apply. “You should send cold emails the same day or the day right after applying if you can. Cold emails are not reminders of applications, but rather they function like a modern cover letter in the sense that they add color and personality to your application,” explains Kevin Wu, CEO at Pathrise. “If you wait too long to cold email, a recruiter may have already filed you away into the ‘reject’ pile of applications before you even reach out. They could always pull you out, but you might as well act first.”

What is the best time of day to cold email for a job?

Don’t get bogged down with timing. It’s infinitely better to cold email for a job at an inconvenient hour than to cold email for a job at all. Searching for the specific time zone of a recruiter is also not an effective use of your time–that time could be better spent elsewhere.

However, a general rule of thumb is to cold email recruiters and hiring managers during business hours. Yesware, a sales toolkit, created a map where they will tell you the best time to send it for the highest reply rate in a certain place. For example, the highest reply rate from people in San Francisco is 4pm. But, if you’re cold emailing someone in New York, you’re more likely to get a reply at 6pm. Every little thing helps, so definitely time your cold emails in the best reply rate zones. Check out their map here.

What day should you cold email for a job application?

“The best time to send an email after applying to a job is Monday because it puts the email at the top of the recruiter’s inbox for the next week,” said Ben Hyland, a senior career mentor at Pathrise. Our research agrees. We’ve found Monday to be the best day to cold email for a job sent Monday get the most responses, while less than 5% of cold emails for a job sent to recruiters on Friday or Saturday get a response at all.

Mondays are optimal to email recruiters

When should you follow up with a cold email for a job application?

Wait about 1 week before sending a polite follow up email. Since follow-ups can’t easily be generated by AI tools like Career Connect, we’ve left a follow-up email template below.

Hi [contact],

I know you must be busy, but I thought I’d quickly follow-up in case this happened to fall through the cracks. I’ve been making headway on current interview processes, but [Company] is solving a problem I know I care deeply about, so if you happen to be free during [time frames], I’d love to have a quick 15-minute chat. Let me know!


Your name

Stop sending applications and not hearing back

The job market is fiercely competitive today. Many job seekers apply endlessly and rarely hear back. It can feel like sending applications into a blackhole. By reaching out to recruiters with cold emails, you greatly increase your odds of hearing back. Continuing to send follow-up emails and tracking every application will also help you get more interviews.

If you want more help finding your dream with proven strategies from the experts, try Pathrise. Our mentors work with fellow one-on-one through every phase of the job search, from cold email outreach to salary negotiation. After working with a mentor, our fellows often see their interview response rates triple. It’s free until you land a job.

Apply today.

Pathrise logo

Patrick Bohan

Hi, I'm Patrick, I write about the job search. After graduating from Cornell, I became a content lead at UBS where I helped professionals at Fortune 500 companies understand their stock options, salary, and benefits. When I'm not writing about the hiring process, I write novels for teens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *