How do you make a good first impression via email?

Tweet your questions about how to land your dream design job—or just how to get your foot in the door—to our resident career expert @thegiantthinker. We’ll publish his answers here each month and keep the conversation going on Twitter @AIGAdesign.

“When it’s just your portfolio/resume/email going into the application, how can you ensure an interview?”—@CBlacksher

I’m glad you highlighted those three key touch points specifically. The reality is, they’re the only platforms you can communicate with when formally applying for a job that’s calling for interested applications.

In that scenario, be mindful of the order in which the potential employer will be receiving your information. It’ll likely be email first, then the portfolio link second, then the resume attachment third. Unless you’ve met the person you’re emailing, your email or cover letter will be the first impression, so keep relevance and context in mind. That means a succinct and appealing subject line. Put yourself in their shoes. What would get you to open an email if you were a creative director?

Then there’s email itself. Don’t ramble on with your life story. They are short on time and may click off your email altogether if it’s too overwhelming to read. Keep the email short and direct but tailored to them. Express how you found them or their work, why it really resonates with you, and why that made you want to write to them. Briefly introduce yourself and ask for advice. Don’t ask for a job. Attach your resume or LinkedIn profile (which is often just as good, if not better) and include a link to your online portfolio.

Make your call to action clear. Invite them for coffee or a quick 15–20 minute chat at a time that suits them. Let them know how grateful you are and how much of a privilege it’d be to receive their constructive feedback and advice.

The key is to build rapport first. Aim to build a connection. There is, of course, more to it than that when it comes to increasing your chances of getting an interview, but that’s where to start.

Aside from first impressions via email (i.e. what you write and how you say it), your work must also be of a high standard. It should leave them thinking, “I’d regret not meeting this person. They have interesting ideas, beautiful craftsmanship, and potential.” How can you make that reaction happen? You have to create work that they need and cater to who you’re communicating with as well. If a digital agency is after UX and UI designers, but you’re only showing print work and packaging, it’s unlikely you’ll get a response.

The other part of this entire equation is to network and meet people constantly, both online and offline. You can really accelerate your chances of getting an interview by hunting away from the herd.

About the Author:

If you'd like to be a designer, read Ram's internationally industry acclaimed book here:

www.getajobasadesigner.com

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Ram is an award winning Design Director, Blogger, top ranking Podcaster, Speaker, CreativeLive.com Instructor and Author of the internationally acclaimed book 'How to get a job as a designer, guaranteed'. He's based in Sydney, Australia and in 2012, started the blog GiantThinkers.com which helps thousands of design students and graduates be employed. Ram has since been featured in Communication Arts, HOW magazine, Herman Miller, deFrost*, AIGA.org and Apple. 

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Book: getajobasadesigner.com
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