The Truth About Writing Emails to Recruiters: A step by step to help you write a superior email

Have you ever applied to a posting online you were excited about and felt like you were a perfect candidate for just to never hear back from anyone? I know I have and yea, it totally sucks. Everyone I know who has ever been in a job search has experienced it and it is absolutely no fun

The whole purpose of this email is I am going to teach you (and give you a template) how to write an email that will help get your foot in the door by writing the perfect email to a recruiter. So, maybe you are new to my blog and are wondering why I am qualified to do this. The answer is that I have spent just under a decade in Talent Acquisition both on the agency side and the corporate side. That means I have seen hundreds of these, both good and bad. Below is how you write a great one!

Before we get into what makes a bad email and what makes a great one, let’s start by talking about the steps it takes to get in the position to deliver one of these emails. Let’s assume you have a role with a company you are interested in. Go on LinkedIn, find that companies page and scroll down until you see the list of people who work for this company. Look through those profiles, find a recruiter (or a few if you can find them) who currently work for that company and then add them. As soon as they accept you are in position send the email.

Now let’s get to the email!

The first thing I want to do is show you an example of a bad one. Now these, I get all the time. If you are writing emails like the one below, don’t feel bad, just know that they most likely won’t help and now that you know this, never write one again.

“Dear Recruiter,

Thanks for adding me on LinkedIn. Please look at my profile for any suitable positions. Yours truly.

Tom Smith”

So, first thing, if you think I don’t get emails like that, you are wrong. I get emails all the time that look exactly like that and the truth is, they aren’t going to help you accomplish anything. From the recruiter’s standpoint, it doesn’t look like they put in any effort and frankly they don’t do much in helping you know exactly what it is they are interested in. Now, let’s take a look at the type of email that is going to motivate a recruiter to move you into their interview process (in case you would like to use this as a template, I have written everything you would need to change in red).

“Dear Joe,

Thank you for accepting my connection request. I recently saw an opening at your company that intrigued me. The position was titled Mechanical Engineer for your Franksville, Wisconsin location. I read through the job description and not only did it seem interesting to me, but it seems to be an ideal match for my skills and experience. Below are the requirements for the job, I have taken the liberty of expanding on how my experience stacks up next to these requirements.

  • Bachelors in Engineering or related field required (I have a BSME from MSOE, 3.81 GPA)
  • 2-4 years of related experience required (I have 5 years experience in a similar field)
  • Experience with manufacturing processes such as die casting, fabrication, material handling and assembly and distribution required (I have strong experience with die casting and metal fab)
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite, AutoCAD, and Solidworks (I have completed 5,000 Hours in Solidworks)
  • Competency with Microsoft Project and leading projects is also a plus (I have expert level skills in Microsoft Project)

I have been in my current role for 4 years with my current company. While I am not necessarily looking for a change, I have always admired your organization and the role sounds great. I would love the chance to ask you about the role and walk you through my qualifications. You can reach me at benwhite@abccorp.com to schedule a time that works for your schedule. Thank you for your time and I look forward to talking with you.

Sincerely,

Ben

Now it should be pretty easy to see why this email is going to be much more effective than the first. It addresses the recruiter by name. It demonstrates that you have a specific position in mind while also demonstrating your qualifications for this role. For the recruiter, you have basically taken care of everything and made reaching out to you a no-brainer.

The fact of the matter is corporate recruiters are very busy people. Most of them have between 20 and 50 roles that they could be working on at one time. So, if you want to get their attention, your best is showing them in a very clear fashion that interacting with you is worth their time. It’s not that they are bad people and enjoy deleting vague messages sent to them on LinkedIn, they just have time to chase down every potential lead that does a poor job showing them why it is worth the effort.

I know this approach is more work, but it comes down to how much you want the role. If you really want to get your foot in the door and get a chance to sell what you bring to the table, it is worth putting in the effort. Especially because the sample letter above is essentially a template for you to use!

Once you have the interview and they are getting ready to make you an offer, I recommend reading How to avoid accepting an offer with a company that has a toxic culture, just to make sure it’s a good environment. Also, if you want my recommendations on a great leadership book, check out my most recent post 3 Books that Completely Changed How I View Leadership.

Thanks again for visiting! If you liked this post please share on your social media accounts, I really appreciate it. Take care!

Additional note: In the “good email” I copied and pasted an actual job description and just added in bold the qualifications this hypothetical candidate has. The template can be used by changing the role specific details and personal contact details to match the role you want to inquire about (again, all written in a red color); however, the rest of that message should be good to go, feel free to tinker with it to make it your own.

3 Books that Completely Changed How I View Leadership

Do you remember your worst boss? How about the best boss you have ever had? No matter who you ask, they will likely be able to recall both the best and the worst boss they have ever had. I know that I can. As a new leader, it is something that has been top of mind for me.

Luckily for me, I have had some really great bosses throughout my career. I can remember the things they did that really helped to get the best out of me and try to do them for my team. However, in my quest to be a great leader, I wanted to know what else I could do to make sure I was the best leader I could be.

That brings us to the title of this post. The following three books are books I would highly recommend for leadership. All three books were great reads and all three had a significant impact on the type of leader that I wanted to be. If you are looking for a good book that can help advance your career and round you out as a professional, I strongly recommend the three below. ( by the way, if you are interested in checking out any of these books the pictures are links!)

Extreme Ownership

Years ago while I was working as a Corporate Recruiter at Rockwell Automation I actually saw the authors of this book speak. They came to one of our events and I was fascinated by the way they applied the leadership lessons of the battlefield to corporate America. While the speech was good, the book was better!

The concepts in this book are simple, practical and actionable. They take lessons they learned during their time in the Iraq War and apply it to corporate America. They seamlessly go back and forth between lessons learned through conflict and how they have applied it to corporate customers through their consulting business. Fantastic and exciting read!

The Serving Leader

When I joined Newton Consulting, like every other employee they hire, I received this book. Servanthood is absolutely critical in my opinion in both serving your team as well as customers, both internal and external. This book does a great job of storytelling, all the while infusing these principles.

This left a considerable mark on who I am as a leader and as a person and I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Another nice thing about this book is that it is a pretty quick read. I read it on my flight to headquarters and on the way.

The Power of Positive Leadership

At the end of the day, no field is without obstacles. You cannot control the obstacles you face, only how you react to them. To quote the book “We are not positive because life is easy. We are positive because life can be hard.” This book serves as an emotional primer on how you can face the obstacles and react in a way conducive to success.

So there you have it. Those are the 3 Books that Completely Changed How I View Leadership. While there are a plethora of great books out there, these three really made an impact on me and I truly recommend reading them if you are ready to grow as a leader.

This was a short post but if you still have time check out  How to avoid accepting an offer with a company that has a toxic culture. It is a great read for those willing to think outside the box when it comes to getting feedback on the culture of an organization.

 

How to Avoid Accepting an Offer With a Company That Has a Toxic Culture

We all know of companies that are rumored to have terrible cultures. Cultures with the type of negativity that ends up spilling over into your personal life and has you with a dreaded feeling in the pit of your stomach on Sunday night. A toxic culture can ruin what might otherwise be considered a dream opportunity. In fact, a few years back fortune published an article stating the detrimental impact a bad work culture could have on your health ( Fortune article on how work culture can impact health).

So, in some respects, when you take a new job, you are not just gambling with your career, you could be gambling with your health. Given those ramifications, what can you do to make sure you don’t accept a position and find yourself working for a company with an awful culture? You could ask them, or perhaps you could look on Glassdoor. Both of these options are better than nothing, but they can also fall short of giving you a complete picture.

One of the things my current company does (Check out our website –Titus Talent Strategies) in our interview process is we assign every candidate a writing assignment. They are required to reach out to 2 to 3 random people in our organization and have a conversation about our company values and then write a brief summary regarding that conversation.

I remember when I did this assignment. I knew that Titus had a great company culture if they were willing to let me reach out to anyone and ask them about the organization. To me, it demonstrated great confidence how the employees felt about the company. It also gave me a chance to ask questions about the organization and probe current employees to get an understanding of what I might be walking into.

What if I told you that you could also do this type of reconnaissance on a company that you are considering accepting a role with. You can! In fact, it is pretty easy. Find their company page on LinkedIn and see if you are connected with anyone who works there. If you aren’t, then send a few people connection requests.

Once they accept (or if you are already connected) send them a message like this:

“Hi, Bill. Recently someone from your organization reached out to me regarding a position within your organization. While I am happy at my current company, I have to admit I am a bit curious. I would really appreciate if you would have 5-10 minutes for the two of us to have a confidential chat about your organization and your thoughts on company culture.”

If you are uncomfortable with saying it is you who are considering a role you could always say that a former colleague was interested in applying for a role and asked you if you had any thoughts on the company. I personally prefer the straightforward approach but I understand the desire to keep your interests private.

Having this conversation with giving you a great glimpse into the culture and how this person feels about the company. Are they an advocate? Are they just going through the motions? Are they only talking with you because they are hopeful it could lead to a way out? The tone of the conversation should reveal a lot of you ask the right questions. Everyone has a different outlook, so it could also be worth doing this with a few people to make sure you are confident in moving forward.

So, while it’s aggressive, that is my suggestion on how you can avoid accepting an offer with a company that has a toxic culture. If you have ever been in an environment that is toxic, you understand that it is worth the effort to try and avoid.
Thanks for reading. If you have a few minutes, check out one of my popular recent posts on interviewing,  How to answer the interview question “What is your biggest weakness?”.

 

How to answer the interview question “Give me an example of a time when you had a conflict in a professional environment”

Welcome back! If you have been following along and coming to the site every day, I owe you an apology. The initial plan was to write one blog post a day for 31 business days. However, the last two days I have not posted a blog post because work has been extremely hectic and required more attention. But I am back now and ready to tackle a really difficult question today, “Give me an example of a time when you had a conflict in a professional environment.”

This is a classic “walk the line” question. By that I mean answering it is a combination of revealing a challenge but at the same time, not making yourself look bad. It’s like “what is your biggest weakness” or “what would you like to improve upon”.

There are a few keys to answering this question correctly. The first key is your answer can’t be total BS. It needs to be a believable scenario in which a reasonable person could find themselves in while in an office setting. If you make the scenario seems improbable, it’s going to throw up red flags.

The second key is make the conflict one that makes you look reasonable and professional. At the end of the day, using an example where you and a colleague whom you respect had slightly different approaches to accomplish the same thing is probably best.

Thirdly, your example must demonstrate your ability to listen to their reasons and ultimately explain your reasoning well enough for your colleague to come over to your side and agree with you. The term conflict could mean quite a bit of different things in this scenario. It could mean an actual disagreement in which people become slightly unprofessional or it could just be a civil disagreement on approach. It will always serve you better to use an example in which everyone acts professional.

As long as you can do those three things, you should be fine. This is an example of a question you should practice answering. Have the scenario thought out and ready to go. If you have to think about this on the spot, odds are the story won’t come out as you would like. You also want to make sure you are direct and to the point. When people recall stories, they occasionally tend to let the stories drag on. If you can avoid that, it’s a great idea. Be direct and to the point.

Well there you have it. If you do those things you should have an easy time answering this question. Make sure you come back tomorrow when we answer the interview question “Tell me about a time you disappointed a customer”. If you liked this post, please share it or like it on social media. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity.

How to answer the interview question “How do you handle competing deadlines?”

Yesterday we discussed how to handle salary questions. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read that one, I recommend checking it out “What are you looking for in terms of compensation?”. Today we are going to tackle the interview question, “How do you handle competing deadlines?” This is another question you will find yourself asked frequently.

I think it makes sense to discuss why this question gets asked first. This question gets asked because at some point, someone in the interview process thought it made sense to get an idea as to how you deal with multiple tasks. Now, they might be asking this because it is a big part of the job that you are interviewing for. Another reason is they want to get an idea of how detail oriented you are, how you schedule your time or how self-sufficient you are.

I have had hiring managers tell me they would like me to ask this question solely for the purpose of weeding out candidates they think will come to them with every little issue. They might want to avoid candidates who answer this question by saying something like, “I would ask my manager what task is more important”.

Now there are two ways you might get asked this question. The first is the way I phrased it in the title of this post. If they ask you how, then they are looking for your methods and strategies for handling those types of issues. However, they may also ask the question like this, “Give me an example of a time when you had to handle competing deadlines”.

Now if they ask the question the second way, they aren’t looking for hypotheticals, they want an example. As a recruiter, when I ask for a specific example but instead a candidate answers with a hypothetical, it is quite frustrating. It says to me that you can’t think of a time or are avoiding the question.

So, if you are asked in a way that allows you to answer hypothetically, make sure you give a clear, concise explanation that demonstrates your ability to both plan out your time effectively as well as make decisions yourself when appropriate.

If you are asked for a specific example, make sure you have one prepared. The example should demonstrate your strategies for staying organized, it should show your ability to prioritize tasks based on timelines or important and ultimately it should demonstrate a successful outcome. Bonus points if your example is something you can realistically expect to run into in the job you are interviewing for.

Well there you have it. If you can do those simple things you will nail this interview question. Come back tomorrow when we discuss how to answer the interview question, “Give me an example of a time when you had a conflict in a professional environment?”

How to answer the interview question “What are you looking for in terms of compensation?”

Welcome back, yesterday we covered “What is your biggest weakness?”. If you haven’t read that, check it out after this. But don’t skip today’s question because it is one of the big ones! This is another question I knew I absolutely must cover. In fact, I think if I was to put a poll out there it might be the question people fear the most. I ask this question to people every single day and the response I get is unique to this question. People sight, people say “I knew you were going to as that” and all kinds of other responses.

The fact of the matter is most recruiters don’t like asking it either. I have had recruiters tell me they hate asking the question just based on the responses they get and the way candidates sometimes react. Not me however. I know it’s a question that absolutely needs to be asked and I have no problem asking the question.

I have seen posts saying that your salary requirements are none of the recruiter’s business. That is certainly one way to look at it, I however, disagree. If I send a candidate over to a hiring manager and they have absolutely no idea what that person is making I am not really doing my job. So, I ask every single time.

Now I also get why candidates don’t want to give up that information. Candidates often feel that by giving that information up they are compromising their ability to negotiate later. That’s fair. However, I would counter that just because you tell them what you are making now in no way keeps you from countering an offer or walking away.

However, I know some of you want to know how to avoid giving your salary requirements, so here is my advice on that. If you are asked what you are currently making you can respond by saying “In terms of a new role, salary is not the most important thing to me but I am open to a fair a equitable offer”. Now, some people will press further and ask what that means. If they do, I would recommend giving them a salary range and say something like “it is open to negotiation but I am targeting a salary in the 75-95k range in order to make a move”. This gives them a wide range and if they are willing to accept that answer, you still haven’t given them what you are currently making.

Now, I always think that in terms of negotiation, you are better off not giving them your current salary. If you are able to tell them a range instead of an exact amount, it will help you down the road. However, you are going to deal with recruiters who hear that answer and still want to know specifically what was on your W2 last year. If they continue to push and as for this, I would recommend telling them.

Probably not what you wanted to hear but the fact of the matter is, the situation becoming hostile doesn’t help your chances at landing the role. Some people will also say, if they are going to push you here, then that’s a company you don’t want to work for. I disagree, one person not taking not taking no for an answer doesn’t mean it still isn’t a great company. So, if they really push I would say something like “I am currently making 65k but would be targeting a salary of 75-85 in order to make a move”.

If they wont take no for an answer, better to move forward positively then get into a hostile back and forth. By stating what you need to move you are reinforcing the fact that regardless of current compensation, this is what it will take of you want me to join your organization. And as I said earlier, if they come back with 70k because you are currently at 65k, you don’t have to accept that. Counter. And if they are willing to lose you over 5k, you probably don’t want to be there anyway.

The biggest takeaway here is don’t be afraid of this question and don’t let it turn into a hostile exchange. At the end of the day you decide your worth and don’t need to accept anything that doesn’t appropriately value what you bring to the table. Another takeaway is that asking is part of the job, so don’t be too hard on your recruiter.

Well there you have it. The way to properly handle the most dreaded interview question. Come back tomorrow when we answer the interview question “How do you handle competing deadlines?” Until then, please like and share this post on social media. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity.

How to answer the interview question “What is your biggest weakness?”

Welcome back! Yesterday we covered answering the interview question “What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?” If you haven’t read that yet, head on over there after you read this post. I am actually surprised I was able to wait as long as I did to answer this question. This is a stable of interviews and I think what really makes it interesting is there is a general consensus on how to answer this question that I think is wrong.

I think the general school of thought on this question is you answer this question with something that really isn’t a weakness but rather is a strength. The problem with that is everyone see’s through that. Everyone immediately dismisses your answer as disingenuous. I mean think about it. I imagine your are interviewing someone for your team and you ask this question and there answer is “Well, I guess my biggest weakness is I am willing to stay late to make sure I accomplish all my goals and I meet my objectives”.

Do you take the answer seriously? I have heard that answer and guess what, I didn’t. Its seen as dodging the question and really isn’t appreciated. You are actually much better served picking an actual weakness that wouldn’t impact your ability to function at a high level in the role you are interviewing for followed up by the ways you are working to bolster that weakness.

So, first, make sure it isn’t a weakness that is going to severely impact your ability to do your job. So, if you are applying to be an internal auditor, your weakness should not be your inability to stay focused and occasional lack of attention to detail. If you are applying to be a surgeon, it shouldn’t be that you get really shaky hands when under pressure. You get the idea.

Instead find something that is reasonable that you have been working on improving. For example, I often ask the question, “What areas would you like to improve upon in your career?” That is essentially the same question. Some of the best answer are just honest answers about what they value and want to make sure they can turn into a strength. I want to get better at mentoring more junior engineers. I want to make sure continue to learn as the technology advances in my industry.

I had a person answer the other day that her greatest weakness was public speaking. This is an excellent answer to the question. Why? Because it wasn’t a major component of her role, it’s a fear many people share and it’s something she is working towards improving. That right there is the trifecta. If you answer does those three things you will be just fine.

There you have it! Make sure you come back again tomorrow when we cover answering he interview question “What are you looking for in terms of compensation?” Also, if you like these posts, go down load my FREE Interview Prep Guide, its totally free. As always, I appreciate any likes or shares of these posts. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity.

How to answer the interview question “What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?”

Welcome back to 31 interview questions in 31 days. If you are new to this, I have committed to answering 31 interview questions of 31 business days. Today is the 5th day, so we have 26 more to go. Over the next 26 days I will answer a variety of interview questions, including behavioral interview questions, motivation questions and even salary questions. Yesterday we covered the interview question “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” If you haven’t read that one yet, hop over there when you finish today’s!

Speaking of today, we are going to cover the interview question “What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?” Now on the surface this might seem like an easy question to answer, right? I am not so sure about that actually. You see this is another question where if you are prepared to answer the question, then it should be an issue for you. However, if you are unprepared and fumble the answer on the spot it will give the person interviewing a lot of questions about you as a candidate. Does this person really not have anything they are proud of in their career?

So, the first key here is to be prepared. Know that this is a question that could very likely be asked and know exactly what you are going to say ahead of time. Secondly, do not make something up. Recruiting Legend Lou Adler once held a full day training class with my company. He spent the entire day teaching us what has worked for him in his storied career and towards the end of the day he talked about what he considered the most important interview question you can ask.

The question today was the question he was referring to. The reason being is that you can really get a solid idea about what this person’s level of ability is with this question. You can also get the people they interface with, scope of their role, organizational impact and a lot of other information when you ask the right follow ups. You see, for a recruiter, the key isn’t to ask the question, take down the answer and move on. The key to this is in the follow up questions. A good recruiter will ask what their specific role was, who they interfaced with, how long it took, who else was involved, who did you need signoff from etc.

It’s easy for a person to be asked this question and exaggerate their impact if there are no follow up questions. However, if you ask the right follow up questions it is near impossible for a person to keep fabricating without it becoming obvious. So, to recap, have an answer prepared and don’t lie. The one additional tip I will give is that it helps if your biggest accomplishment is something that would add value to your potential new role. Most of us will have several accomplishments we are proud of so if you can pick one that would be particularly attractive based on what you know of the company and role, then it’s a good idea to use that as an answer.

Well there you have it. This is a pretty straightforward question as long as you can avoid those pitfalls. Tomorrow we will cover the question “What is your biggest weakness?” If you liked this post, please feel free to like and share it with your social media. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity.

How to answer the interview question “Where you do want to be in 5 years?”

Welcome back to 31 interview questions in 31 days. This will be the last post until Monday when we resume our 31 business day journey to helping you succeed at answering some of the most frequently asked interview questions. Yesterday we covered the interview question “What do you consider to be your biggest strength?” If you haven’t read that post check it out after we go through today’s question. Today we will be tackling the interview question, “Where do you want to be in five years?”

Now there are actually a few versions of this question you might be asked. You might be asked what are you career goals. Or how do you see yourself expanding professionally within the next five years. But basically, they are all getting at one main concept. Do you have a vision for your future? Do you have a plan?

The most successful people in the world plan. Most people don’t trip, stumble and fall into success. Success is having a goal, breaking down the steps you need to take to achieve that success and tirelessly pursuing those goals and objectives until you reach your target.

So, when you are asked this question, its best to have a plan. However, its best to have a plan that is reasonable as well. When you answer this question, there are a few no no’s. The first is it needs to be something achievable. If you are asked what you want to be doing in five years as you are interviewing for a Jr Accountant and your answer is CFO, that isn’t really a realistic target. They will either think you are naive or are not taking the question seriously.

Secondly, avoid answers that make it seem like you aren’t interested in your current role. If you are interviewing for that same Jr Accountant role and your answer is “I wanted to be leading scrums as a software developer, I am currently take night classes to get a computer science degree.” That may be honest but to me it says I am actively taking steps to move out of the role I am currently interviewing for.

There are also some things you want to make sure you do. I always liked stating my interest in the current role before I moved on to stating where I liked to be. For example, I might say, “Well currently I really enjoy recruiting so my short term goal is to continue to develop and grow my skills in recruitment. However, in five years I would like to be in a role or making good progress to a role in which I am able to lead a team of recruiters.”  Answering like this is helpful because it lets them know you aren’t a flight risk and you still have learning to do in your current role but it also lets them know you have a vision for your future.

You should also mention development steps you are currently taking if they happen to be relevant. For example, if you have interest in people managing and you are currently completing your MBA, I would mention that while answering this question. And as with every question, I consider it important to be enthusiastic while answering.

Well there you have it. If you can do those things correctly, you will be able to knock this question out of the park. If you liked this post, please feel free to share. Make sure you come back Monday when we tackle our next interview question, “What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?” Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity!

How to answer the interview question “What do you consider to be your biggest strength?”

Welcome back to 31 Interview questions in 31 days! For the record, I mean 31 business days. I figure you all don’t want to be reading about interview questions on your weekend. Yesterday we discussed how to answer the interview question, Why are you interested in this role? If you haven’t read that one, feel free to check it out. Today however, we will cover the interview question, “What do you consider to be your biggest strengths?”

Now, this is another question that should be relatively easy to answer. However, if you are not ready to answer this question it can be disastrous. Imagine you are interviewing someone and you ask them what they are good at. Then imagine they have no idea what they are good at and have trouble answering your question. What kind of confidence would that inspire?

So, the first key to answering this question well is be prepared. If you stammer and stutter and struggle to find a way that you are above average, they will not struggle with having serious concerns about your candidacy.

The second key is that your key strength will be one that will allow you to be successful in the role you are applying for. If your answer is contradictory to the bulk of the responsibilities of the role, then that’s really not helping your case much. So, don’t lie, but look at the role and the industry. Find one of your skills that will allow you to flourish in the environment and pick that one.

Finally, you must find a way to not come off cocky. You want to inspire confidence and at the same time come off as a mix of humble and confidence. Perhaps work in how it’s a strength because you have really worked hard and put in effort to develop it as a strength.

There you have it! As long as you are prepared and the strength is relevant, you will do just fine. If you liked this post, please like and share it! Also, come back tomorrow when we tackle the interview question, “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” As always, have a great day and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity!