CREATING YOUR COVER EMAIL AND ONE-MINUTE PITCH
Traditionally, a cover letter is utilized to sell your skills to a specific individual in a company. The same holds true for a cover email or the pitch you use when introducing yourself on the telephone. Emails addressed to Dear Recruiter, Dear Human Resources, and To Whom it May Concern are perceived as junk mail. Do the proper research and networking and get the actual names: the name of the Producer working on the game you have interest in, the name of the Technical Manager, the name of the VP of Human Resources, the name of any hiring manager in your area of interest. Don't send correspondence to a general email box and hope it gets routed. That is giving over your control of your job search to someone else. Cover emails must be addressed to a specific individual. At a minimum, most people at least "scan" any correspondence that is specifically addressed to their individual email and address and written to their attention..
FROM THE EXPERT
"When sending an email, use proper grammar and complete sentences. Do not be overly familiar in your salutations. A hiring manager will not think 'U R 2 kewl' with use of abbreviated words, all lower case letters, multiple exclamations, and just a general disregard of etiquette and the English language. Remember: You're marketing yourself, and no one wants to buy an unprofessional grammar slob. Your e-mail program probably has a spelling check function, use it."
- Beverly Cambron, President, Rocco Media, PR & Marketing
THE EMAIL STRUCTURE
Your cover email introduces who you are and why you are connecting. It should not be boring! It should contain a summary of skills or accomplishments. Do your best to anticipate what the hiring manager needs. Highlight your skills and accomplishments to communicate that you can do the job. In short, what you can do for the company is the theme of the cover email. The last paragraph of your cover email should end with a proactive statement like, "I will call you on Monday, January 15 at 1:00 p.m. to discuss this further." This you will actually do.
Following is a sample of generating a targeted cover email. First, let's review the history of Hot Smokin' Games:
In 1998, a newly formed development company headed by former Activision veterans announced that it would publish new games. Activision made an equity investment in the company. The first two games developed were action combat sequels. The President, Amy Leader, served as a director of production at Activision before founding Hot Smokin' Games, Inc. She was the director for one of the best-selling real-time strategy games, and the producer of a blockbuster combat-simulation hit. Currently, the company is working on the next version of an action combat game.
Based on what you know of Hot Smokin' Games, here's an email approach you might try:
I am a Game Programmer who loves 3D strategy, combat, and action games. This is why I want to join your development team!
Working for Hot Smokin' Games has been my career goal. I have designed and developed a combat simulation game. Like you, I share a love for this genre. I have the following qualifications:
- 3D game programming experience with exposure to current 3D rendering techniques.
- More than 900 hours of hands-on C/C++ in addition to low-level Assembly experience.
Trained to perform in a team with strict schedules and milestone delivery.
Take a look at my online portfolio where you will find my résumé and sample code: www.YourName.com.
If I don't know hear from you beforehand, I will connect with you via telephone on Thursday, April 22, 2004 at 1:30 p.m.
Marc Mencher, Game Programmer Gone Wild!
Schedule in your database or calendar to make that call on the day and time you specified. It does not matter if you get voice mail and can only leave a message; it is your responsibility to be professional and prompt. When leaving a voicemail message, indicate when you will try to connect again. Give your target a good five business days to return the call. You never know when someone did not respond due to a business trip or just bad timing in his or her world. Be professional and pleasant, but persistent. Get voice mail a second time? Leave another nice and upbeat sounding message and schedule another time when you will return the call. Yes, you're being a bit pushy here. Ever hear the old adage, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease?" This is your job search and you must keep its momentum moving forward. Don't let the momentum of your job search be controlled by others. You have the control. Take it.
Obviously, you don't want to cross the line and be perceived as annoying, but there is nothing wrong with being aggressive. If you're going to work on a multimillion-dollar project, you better believe the hiring manager would be more interested in a person who is persistent than one who is not. Your repeated efforts communicate that you're really enthusiastic about developing games.
Do not leave a third voice mail message, but keep calling your target several times a day for a few days. Most people answer their phones, so keep calling until they pick up. If, after a few days, you can't reach your target and they have not responded in any way, you can feel good that you have done just about all you can to work this lead. Don't make the mistake of discarding this contact, and don't harbor negative feelings about his non-response either. It had nothing to do with you personallythat person has never even met you. Instead, keep this contact in your database, but code it now to receive your quarterly or yearly accomplishment email. Move on to another target person within the same company. Eventually, you will find someone who is willing to assist you.
"I can't tell you how many people I have cold contacted and they don't respond. But I know this is not a personal rejection of Marc Mencher. I have no idea what is going on the other end of the Internet or telephone. The only thing I do know is that I tried to connect with someone and they were not available this time. I don't create a story in my head about why my target contact didn't respond, and neither should you. This only leads to a negative emotional reaction. Job hunting is emotional enough, so don't add to the mix. Stay focused on the positive and the momentum you are generating with the other people on your list. You better bet I still keep in contact with people who don't respond. Many of them actually call me when they are ready to job hunt. The same will happen for you."
Three months from now, one of your cold contacts could get promoted or a new job and may need to hire a protégé. Your contact could get a telephone call from a friend working at another studio looking to fill an open spot. "Hey! I remember that persistent Animator or 3D Programmer who tried connecting with me some time ago. What was the name, Marc Mencher? I will contact him first." Networking works in wondrous ways and is the key to a successful and profitable career.