Unless you are famous, no one hopes to receive an email that starts off with your name. For example, Tabitha Weston immediately loses the attention of her recipient, when she writes:

“Hi, I’m Tabitha Weston, a recent graduate of Chapman University.”

Now, if you are – or when you are – a highly visible expert or star in your field, you can re-think this advice. Harry Styles and Ariana Grande get attention as soon as they say their names.

However, as a job or internship candidate at this point in your life, you are better off building a relationship with the first words you share. The first step is to cover ground that connects your recipient’s interest with the reason you are writing. In other words: Why is reading your communication in their best interest?

Start off talking about their land (their interests), then talk about your land (how you and your credentials dovetail with their interests). That’s how you lead them to OUR land (the intersection of your mutual interests).

Your subject line and the first five to seven words of an email (or the first sentence of your cover letter) are the gatekeepers to the rest of your correspondence. You need to get them involved by talking about their land first. That opens the “gate.”

Here are some examples.

Email to a recruiter

When there’s a position open where your skillset qualifies you, start with that.

Subject: Your ad buying position and my Google ad words expertise

“Because you require an up-to-date media buying certification plus Google ad words experience, I’m an ideal candidate. In my current part-time job, I’ve recently created campaigns that produced …”

LinkedIn message to a hiring manager

When you have a Chapman alumni referral working at their company or another personal connection, start with that.

Subject: Recommended as a perfect fit for your ad buying spot

Your employee Jason Kendrick recommended I reach out to you because my ad buying experience appears to be a great fit. Specifically, I’ve recently been certified ….”

Email to a company without a position open

When you target an organization that suits an aspect of your interests, experience, or traits, start with that. Remember, some companies hire when they don’t have open positions but find the right people. Plus, not every company advertises its open positions, so your outreach might be timely.

Subject: Your core values and mission sparked my outreach

Your new business development activity in African countries is the reason I am reaching out to you now. Having studied in Nigeria as part of my Global Communication major …”

Next Steps

  1. As you research companies, read the job postings carefully to see exactly where you are a good fit.
  2. Check to see if there’s a Chapman University alum (or another personal connection) among their employees. If so, reach out and see if you can get a few minutes for an informational chat. If it goes well, ask if you can use their name as a referral.
  3. Start every communication with the company’s interest in mind, then add how your credentials, experience, interests, or traits make you a great candidate.
  4. Make sure to include your name, any other helpful bits of information, along with your contact information.
  5. Attach your email and cover letter or provide your LinkedIn URL.