Cold emailing for work: The dos and don’ts.

Cold emailing is when you approach a production company you have not worked with before with the aim to make a connection and hopefully secure future work. It’s not the most enjoyable task but one that when it pays off, it can make all the hours of searching and emailing worthwhile. Most production companies receive cold emails on a daily basis and while some may have an automated response, many won’t reply simply due to the volume of CVs they receive. The best things to do after sending a cold email are to forget about it and try not to let it play on your mind. If there’s a job coming up for which you could be suitable, the company will be in touch. If there isn’t such an opportunity, there’s nothing more you can do.

There are, however, things you can do to make your email stand out and better your chances of consideration for future employment.

  • Include a clear, concise subject in the email. E.G, Josie Smith – London based Runner.
  • Don’t write in capital letters and never state ‘urgent’ or ‘important’ in the subject.
  • Be brief but give all the relevant information. Start with a direct opening line which includes your name, job role and why you’re emailing them. Follow up with couple of sentences about your experience, interest in their work and availability. Then politely sign off the emailing saying your CV is attached and you hope to hear from them should a suitable opportunity arise.
  • Personalise your email to make it relevant to the company or person you’re contacting. Be sure to include (and spell correctly) the person or company’s name. Explain why you’re emailing them in particular; perhaps you enjoyed their recent documentary on Ch4 or have a passion for period dramas such as the ones they produce, etc.
  • Be courteous and complimentary if you wish, but don’t suck up. Whilst it’s absolutely fine to say how much you enjoy their work, don’t go too far or you’ll appear disingenuous.
  • Do your research. If you are going to mention their previous work, ensure you have the correct information. It would be very embarrassing to compliment a company on a production they didn’t make!
  • Don’t offer to pop into the office to introduce yourself or ask to meet for a coffee. In this instance, when you don’t have a personal connection, it would be inappropriate. If they want to meet you, they will invite you at a time that suits them.
  • With the recent change in General Data Protection Regulations, you must state that you’re happy for your details to be kept on file and distributed for employment purposes.

You may be more familiar with the term cold calling rather than cold emailing. Before the days of email, this would’ve been the way to get in touch with people to tout for work. These days people, especially busy production people, would generally choose an email over a phone call from someone they don’t know. This is particularly relevant when looking for work, where a phone call is often redundant, as the employer will tell you to email your CV anyway. They don’t have time to listen to your skills and experience, they’d much rather read it on a nice PDF attachment. And if you’re calling to ask who to send it to, you can find those details on the company’s website. You might wish to email an individual but the website only has a jobs@ email address. If that’s the case, its likely to be because the company procedure is for CVs to go through the jobs@ email and you should respect this.

A further example of this, and one we advise against, is turning up at an office with a hard copy of your CV. It might seem like a way of standing out or putting in more effort, but more often than not it’s a waste of time. It sounds harsh, but more often than not a hard copy will be left on someone’s desk or put in the bin. Databases and contacts are stored digitally, so while its easy for someone to save your CV or add it to a database, a hard copy is more cumbersome. When someone has already received multiple CVs that week by email, they’re very unlikely to go to the effort of scanning and saving your hard copy.

There are lots of brilliant production companies across the UK and the best way to find them is to start Googling, keeping a particular eye out for companies in your region. You could start with the TV Watercooler Job Sites Database which has details various production company job pages, as well as links to job boards and crew agencies.

Good luck