Email Game – This is an ACTUAL email I received applying for a job..
I hope you're fired up and ready for 2019.
I survived the in-law's visit and I got full on good wine and not so good chocolate. But I'm so psyched to get back into work-mode, because already I'm working hard on a lot of new content, training and other great stuff I want to share with you.
When we apply for jobs, our cover letter is everything. Because without an enticing cover-letter, it gives no incentive to click the link to our reel. Without seeing our reel, it's very unlike we land the job without a pre-established relationship with that studio. In other words, our reel is everything. But a lot of the time, we make the mistake of assuming that just because we send an email, means they actually are going to look at our reel. I wanted to share with you just one of the many emails I get, from artists asking for work. And what the common mistakes are that they tend to make.
I think this series of emails, all from the same artist - may shock you..
Before we get into this. I created an actual video that breaks down not only this email but multiple others. So in addition to reading this article, you might want to check this out..
Watch The Video Below
Expect VFX related tutorials, as well as career related content a couple of times per week.
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First of all, I get a LOT of email, daily at least a couple of hundred emails and a good chunk of those are artists, producers and TD's looking for work. I hire people regularly for various projects but there's occasionally ones that stand out. Either they stand out because they did a great job reaching out - and I think this would make a good example of what to do... but a lot of them are simply what NOT to do.
You've probably heard me talk about cover letters before.
Because most people don't know how to write a simple cover letter, and they wonder why they're not getting call backs.. It's not because your reel isn't any good - it's mostly because your reel never even got WATCHED.
That's the problem.
Most of us just assume our reels are going to get seen, simply because we sent them to someone. The more we actually put ourselves in the other persons shoes, the more we can start to control the situation. Because we start to understand their needs, and also schedule. Most of the time, supervisors, producers, and management are busy supervising, producing, and managing.
External input such as people asking for reels are always welcome, but you need to make it easy for them. Set them up for the win.
It's like when I have meetings, and one of the parties thinks that just by saying "let's do business together" that something's going to happen, but they're not willing to actually put together a proposal or thought into it themselves, they expect the other person (typically the busier person) to stop what they're doing and start to think of how they can help the other party.
Typically, the less busy person needs to front load the work. That's business 101 - and we're all in business, whether we like it or not.
The past 6 years, I've been collecting emails to a specific folder that I thought 'one day' I'm going to make a video about - and I'm going to point out all of these amazing mistakes they're making. CC'ing a dozen studios the same email, or emailing a studio with nothing attached, just asking them to give you work. Not clarifying what kind of role you're after, emailing the wrong studio, or negotiating money or work visa in the very first email.
There's hundreds. And it's shocking.
So here it is. This is episode 1 of an infinite number of case studies on the good, the bad and the ugly - when it comes to email.
Do you have email game?
As of next week, I'm going to start posting these 2 to 3 times per week, on my Instagram stories.
You can keep tabs on these as they come out here. (My Instagram)
Finally - not all of these are going to be negative. I want to show great examples of what TO DO as well as what NOT to do. I also will be showcasing emails from outsourcing vendors, studios even reaching out to me for jobs and anything else related. I want us to tighten up our game. Not just for applying for jobs, but building relationships, and just generally anywhere where it can be damaging to us if we drop the ball.
Finally, I just want to say that I want to be brutally honest in this email. Because if I'm not then it means we can all make these mistakes. So I want to really point out these mistakes to prevent us making them as well. It might sound harsh, but that's exactly why I'm sharing these, because it's that important.
Email tear-down: A friendly job application from 'Mark'
Subject: Fwd: CV and Coverletter-(Name Withheld)
To: <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>
Hi Hiring Manager I am sending my resume and cover letter.It has been my dream to be a part of your respected studio. Working in international Studios gives different experience and knowledge. Getting an oppurtunity and working with you would be altogether a new start in my career. I would highly appreciate if i get oppurtunity to work in yr pipeline. Regards
I wanted to start with Mark's for a few reasons.
This is one of a few emails he sent. and there's a lot to discuss.
Let's be clear - a job application that you're forwarding (hence the Fwd) instantly outlines that this is not an original email. You're simply forwarding an email that you already wrote to another party. Which also says you're not writing a personal email to that person, but pretty much spamming them with your copy/paste email.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with templating your emails, as a starting point. And then personalizing them from there. I write so many emails that after a while, even if they're written from scratch - they start to all sound the same. We're creatures of habit, and our brains are scarily efficient at forming habits to lower decision fatigue as we start to rely on muscle memory as we type.
But copy pasting the same email - it's very easy to pick up on something that is purposely not personalized, for that exact reason. But, if there's anything I've ever communicated about writing an email to a studio - it's important to actually make it all about them, not about you. And focus on building the relationship, and showing interest in their company. Especially early in your career - when any reason for them to fight for you is important.
Mark, forwarding emails simply shows the minimal amount of effort he's willing to put into applying for the job. Which also gives a glimpse into the effort he's willing to perhaps put into his job, if he were hired.
Did you notice this email is sent not just to Catastrophic, but actually to a dozen other studios?! Oh boy! I think I've only ever gotten two of these in my life.. where artists are applying for a job, and literally mail a handful of studios AT ONCE rather than individually. This is no bueno. I was very tempted to 'Reply all' .
Addressing the person - Wherever possible, personalize the email. If you want to say 'Hi Hiring Manager' that's fine but again, where you put the effort in to personalize the email, it helps significantly with them taking the effort to actually respond.
Spelling errors - I want to just point this one out, if English is not your first language, I'm never going to really criticize spelling issues. If it's an admin job, I will. But if you're applying as an artist, and you're from Brazil - I'm much more interested in your artwork than I am anything else. However, if English is your first language, and your email is riddled with spelling issues - I'm going to really pay attention to this, because it's another sign of the level of effort you're putting into your job application, and what you're willing to let slip past you.
I make spelling mistakes in my emails (even emails to my mom, because 'Australian English' and 'American English' are so different). But consistency in the mistakes is what gets noticed.
It has been my dream to be a part of your respected studio. Working in international Studios gives different experience and knowledge. Getting an oppurtunity and working with you would be altogether a new start in my career.
"It has been my dream to be a part of your <insert studio name>"
What strikes me the most however, is not once in his entire application, did he ever actually mention what type of position he was looking for.
He did of course attach a resume AND a cover letter (note: the email you are sending IS your cover letter. Sending an additional letter, alongside the current letter is one too many letters).
Also note: That if his 'second cover letter' at least mentioned what kind of position he was applying for, or was personalized - any of that, would help undo things a little.
Unfortunately it didn't.
But finally, his resume, which was a one page PDF of his experience. No link to his reel, or to his website.
Mostly a list of bars that show either out of 5 stars where his technical skills, and software skills were.
The biggest problem is English, hard working, and a few other factors were all listed as 5 stars - which makes me want to re-calibrate what 5 stars means. Again, that might sound mean, but if someone was to point out clear and visible areas they need to improve on, it drastically helps me understand their interpretation of their talents, abilities and disabilities.
In this case it leaves me less confident.
So what now?
Basically, this is one example of many. But CC'ing multiple companies, and forwarding a generic email to a cluster of studios is not a good start. Not showing any reel, or link to find out more about the person, means I have to follow up with the person to even find out if they're any good, and I'm still not even clear what type of job they are even applying for?
This was September 30th, 2014.
Mark then followed up with another email December 8th, 2014.
Subject: Fwd: CV and Coverletter - (name withheld)
Hi Hiring Manager I am sending my resume and cover letter. I am applying for SENIOR COMPOSITOR.It has been my dream to be a part of your respected studio. Working in international Studios gives different experience and knowledge. Getting an oppurtunity and working with you would be altogether a new start in my career. I would highly appreciate if i get oppurtunity to work in yr pipeline. Regards
Mark again, forwarding the same email (almost) and at least now not CC'ing but instead BCC'ing everyone! At least I can't see the email addresses of the other studios he's sending to. But forwarding the email again, and sending it to multiple people instead of a personalized email.
come on dude..
So what's new? Mark actually mentioned the position he's applying for. He even went as far as to put it in caps. SENIOR COMPOSITOR.
That's literally the only difference in the email.
Here's the problem
and I'm guilty of this too. I wish I knew what I know now, having been on the other side of the table, and getting to see what it's like to get job applications coming in daily.
"if I send out 10 reels, and nobody responds, maybe I should rethink my approach"
The problem is, most of us (14 year old Allan included) instead would proceed to send the same reel to more studios, daily, for the next 12 months.
Mark, sending the same application (without a reel) the same as the previous application, is not going to yield results.
July 26th, 2015 - Something happened..
Mark sent a 3rd email
Subject: Application: Nuke Compositor
Hi Recruiting Team I’m writing to express my interest as a Nuke Compositor position at your respected firm.My combination of creative talent, software knowledge, and experience managing people, makes me the right person to help your firm to grow. I have developed and implemented quantity and quality that are beneficial in any Vfx Production House. Experience has taught me how to build strong relationships with all departments at an organization. I have the ability to work within a team as well as cross-team. Currently I m working in Image Devices, Mumbai and looking for new opportunity. So, Enclosed my Demo reel Link and profile link in the attached resume. If you have something coming up soon, Please consider my portfolio for upcoming position. Thank you in advance and Have a great day ahead. Regards (Name withheld)
Subject has changed, it actually states what he's applying for. This is great!
Person being sent to, is now recruiting team, rather than recruiting manager. Mark loses points for not personalizing the email.
I’m writing to express my interest as a Nuke Compositor position at your respected firm.
There's a lot of subtle things I want to say about this one sentence, especially comparing to the previous email which is almost identical but I don't want to over-analyze things.
I have developed and implemented quantity and quality that are beneficial in any Vfx Production House. Experience has taught me how to build strong relationships with all departments at an organization. I have the ability to work within a team as well as cross-team.
I just want to point out that out of a 3 paragraph email the above paragraph, that makes up 30% of your email - actually doesn't say anything whatsoever.
Currently I m working in (company withheld), Mumbai and looking for new opportunity. So, Enclosed my Demo reel Link and profile link in the attached resume. If you have something coming up soon, Please consider my portfolio for upcoming position.
I do want to point out that this is a great paragraph. Because you're communicating you are in the industry, you're employed, the sad part is still no demo reel - and worse he even acknowledges that there is a link to his demo reel. Seeing that it's the same application that's been sent for the past 12 months, I'm guessing he hasn't had any responses from anyone mentioning that he's never ever attached a link to his reel.This is a really big point I want to make. It's very hard to get a busy person to stop what they're doing, and take time out to review your work. It is VERY HARD to get them to follow up with you asking you to attach your reel, because you hadn't in the first place.
There are other emails I get that might be well written, but include no link to a reel. And your reel is what matters. This is important to know, people tend to only get invested in the other person once they've seen your reel. Especially if you do not have much experience. Only because there's a high volume of applications coming in that are doing all of this right.
I remember a conversation with Kathleen Ruffalo in Episode 146 of the Podcast, the head recruiter at Framestore about this - that even with your reel, be respectful of the person viewing it's time. Because even watching the reel, lengthy reels can get stopped mid-way - because they're just too long and have lost the viewer.
The important thing is to at least be happy that this email does communicate the job title he's applying for - the down side is .. there's no reel, no resume, no secondary cover letter.. Mark forgot to send anything other than his one email he BCC'd multiple studios.
Twenty minutes later
20 minutes later, Mark resent the same email again, to the same people, this time with his cover letter and CV. Still no reel.
Here's the thing, if I send an email and say "attached is a link to my reel" or CV, or my 5 cover-letters. And I forget to attach them. Take advantage of the opportunity to inject some personality. If it was me, I would respond and add to the letter
"D'oh! I totally hit send without attaching my reel or CV, HERE they are, thanks again for taking a chance to look at them!"
You never know, the personality you inject into the second email, might make you more human and make them laugh at it and feel compelled to respond. I know I have at silly little things like that, and it totally improves the chances of me giving the application my full attention. There's been dozens of times a simple little thing like this has actually made the world of difference, I've responded to that person, I've used emoji's and talked to them like a human, I've looked at their stuff and asked them questions - I've gotten invested. All because they were just a little bit more human."Dear hiring manager" does the complete opposite of this.
It's been 3 years - and nobody's heard from Mark.
And check out my Instagram regularly as I'll be posting a lot more of these in the future.
Finally - I want to reiterate that I think email game is such a critical thing that a lot of us have really not put as much thought as we'd like to admit into. And because of that, we're leaving a lot on the table.
I'm BRUTALLY HONEST about this, and I might come off a bit harsh in this email, but it's because it's so important, it's so critical that we see the mistakes that are being made. And we also understand the important little tweaks that can be so important to what we do.
What want people to watch out reel, and respond. For that, we need a captivating reel. But for them to watch our reel, we need a captivating email that makes them want to click on the reel. For them to read this email, we need a captivating subject heading that gets them to open our email.
Everything is a call-to-action, and everything is part of a process to lead them to the next step, all the way to hiring you.
I hope you found this beneficial, and I will be releasing a lot of these regularly. As well as good examples of emails I've received that make for really great positive case studies as well.
For now - check out this video below too - which will talk a bit about how to structure a cover letter.
finally, if you can take a moment to share this article - it would mean the world to me.
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