How Your Dream Job Is Just One Perfectly Executed Email Away

by Jeff Miller

It's August 4. You graduated 90 days ago, filled out five applications a week, and so far have zero callbacks. You've done the résumé review. You've gone to the conferences. But still nothing.

Indeed, Dice, SimplyHired. There are a lot of emails coming your way, but each one stings worse than the last. "An Update on your application," "You haven't been selected" and "Thanks for Applying."

It all means the same – rejection. It's in different words, but it's all same, and it's all devastating.

I mean, do they really want to keep your résumé on file? Why? If they wanted you in the first place they would have said so. And now you get even more jobs that "match your candidate profile."

If my résumé matches your posting so well, then you should invite me to an interview, and skip this dance in the first place.

It's almost like something is missing. You have a résumé that blows your friends out of the water, but there's still no traction. You've gone to the NSHMBAs, the NBMBAAs and even the receptionist at the career center knows you by the first name. But still – rejection, rejection, rejection

But that's why we're writing this article right now – to try to help you get the career you want. I was fortunate enough to be on both sides of this equation.

As the hungry, job-seeking-recent-graduate sending out applications, cover letters and résumés, and also the person receiving those very same applications, cover letters and résumés.

And as I've come out on the other side, I wanted to share an interesting idea with you. It's not a trick of the trade, it is the trade. It's a valuable life skill. One that opens doors, builds rapport and gets you and your narrative to stick out above the rest.

It may not work the first time, but it definitely got me the job I'm in now and on the phone with SF Bay Venture Capital, Chicago Hedge Funds and New York Private Equity.

Imagine getting a voicemail and the first thing that comes out is "Your résumé was sent my way by Carnival's COO who thought you'd be a good fit for this position. Give me a call tomorrow and we'll chat about the details." That happened to me and I want that to happen to you.

So here's how I got on the phone with the CMOs, COOs and VPs of Intel, Carnival and Ericsson with a pretty simple email.

These friendly chats don't always lead to a job right off the bat, but at the very least, you'll be on the phone with someone who can provide direction and feedback... and you'll move past the phase of countless rejection emails. And if you can end the week with a high note and a step in the right direction, well that's worth a million bucks.

Here's the email that helped me get the job I have now.

Hi there - I was referred by Rick M.##### of the ###### Career Center.

I was in his office a few weeks ago. We were going over my experiences and companies with cultural fits given my history. Low and behold, your name came up.

Some ten years ago I started a business in my backyard and grew it to accounts in almost every state in the U.S. I spent a summer with a venture capital fund through the Kauffman Foundation and I've won two business plan competitions in the healthcare industry.

Now I want to be clear - this email is not about a job. But it is about a conversation. Id like to get some face time, chat about R#######, and understand my fit with the culture of venture capital.

Thanks, Jeff Miller


It's gone through a bunch of revisions since I first started using it, but it's a good start for you.

Now, I don't want you going willy-nilly with this. There are reasons it works and I want you to understand those reasons so you can go out, master this skill-set and make it your own. Your networking/soliciting/communication/email should revolve around three ideas.

1. Spark an interest

It's the middle of the day with 55 emails and three face-to-face meetings. There's an all hands at 2:30 and this speech won't write itself.

Then you get an email. You don't start reading. You start scanning every other word in context of everything else you are doing.

If it's interesting enough, you'll flag for later. If not, it falls down the list. Business plan competition? Road trip across Africa? Organized a cross country comedy tour with 32 gigs across 15 states? That's interesting, worth a response and helps stack the deck in the favor of a returned email.

2) Ask a worthwhile question

Do you know what Google looks for in a candidate? Well, you should have Googled that. What's the interview process like? Well, that shows a lack of research. Both of those are pretty low quality, but prospectives think it's a legitimate question.

It may be legit if you are emailing a recruiter, but your goal is to be on the phone with managing directors. Men and women with 15+ years of experience. You can do better with a higher quality question.

3) Steer clear of asking for a job

Everyone knows you are looking for a job, so don't mention it. When you ask about or for a job, it gets into this weird and hazy legalese situation and it's one that not too many want exposure to.

It's easier to delete, disregard or ignore these kind of questions.

Besides they could just say, "No I don't have a job for you" because, frankly, they don't. They aren't the hiring manger, they don't have headcount, it's a group decision, or you have to go through a recruiter. Get on the phone first, fall in love and let HR figure out the details.

When up-and-comers and recent graduates wonder why they haven't received a callback, chances are it's because they missed this one thing right here: building a genuine connection with someone at the company.

They do everything else right, but miss this key idea. It's why Candice and her art history major got the job at McKinsey and why the wine major got the callback at Google.

It's because they got on the phone, built rapport and someone went to bat for them – or, at the very least, was intrigued enough to tell HR to follow up.

So why am I writing this and what do I want you to do? I want you to take this email, this tool... and use it.

Get people on the phone and build a real, bona fide, lasting connection. Find someone at Google from your neighborhood and chat about his or her transition from a small town to San Francisco.

Find a BCG article that syncs with your major and use the email as a way to get in touch with the author. Find a DOD software developer turned Microsoft Engineer and chat about his or her transition from government to enterprise.

Use that email to find your company champion, the lady or gentleman who can move mountains for you, guide you in the right direction and give you frank feedback from outside the "official" HR channels.

It won't always work out, you won't always find that person with the first conversation, but keep having them.

Keep emailing those who have the jobs you want at the companies you want to work for. Keep driving towards your success, keep making steps in the right direction, and keep fighting the good fight.

Anyone who has ever made it will recognize your work, will help you move forward and you'll build a skill-set that will pay dividends for a lifetime.

Photo Courtesy: USA/Suits