Cold Email Etiquette: how to ask for work

Sending that scary email could change your life. The Media Mentor shows you how, with practical templates to get you started.
Cold Email Etiquette: how to ask for work Ask and you might receive. Image: Shutterstock.

Esther Coleman-Hawkins

Friday 30 April, 2021

Sadly, cold calling isn’t just for electricity companies. If this industry is all about who, not what you know, then you need to be able to know lots of people. Professionally obvs, not in the biblical sense… 

For introverts, extra polite people and, frankly, the vast majority of us, contacting someone out of the blue to ask for work feels like a massive barrier. But here’s a formula that becomes your battering ram.

Who?

Think about the role you’re going for and who would employ you.

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Want an entry level costume role? Speak to head of costume. Want an MD role? Connect with the board members. If all else fails, try production managers, line producers or the head of production.

Don’t know names? LinkedIn is a godsend.

Also check credits of shows you like, crew agencies and the names of regular posters on industry social media.

What?

You want work? It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Every single person in the industry has had to ask at some point.

Say who you are, what role you’re looking for, and why you’d love to work with this company or production. Ask to meet/zoom for a coffee to talk about future opportunities.

Attach your CV as a PDF – don’t just put a link in your message.

Make sure your CV and job request match.

Thank them for their time. Sign off.

Do not send a massive diatribe – no one will read it.

Read: How to Hustle: Tips and Tricks for Networking

When?

Start building your connections now, not when your current contract comes to an end. If you know a production is looking for people email asap – first in best dressed.

Luck is what you make it. You never know when someone will cancel, get sick or they just need an extra pair of hands. If your CV arrives that morning then you might be in the right place at the right time.

Luck is what you make it. You never know when someone will cancel, get sick or they just need an extra pair of hands.

Stalking

Or ‘Following Up’ if you’d rather.

Don’t hear anything back? Send a follow up a couple of weeks later. A spreadsheet can help you keep track of where you’re up to. Still don’t hear anything? Leave it a few months and try again – particularly when there’s a change in your circumstances. 

Being Blanked

Feel down when someone doesn’t respond to your email immediately? You’re right: it’s because they hate you, think you’re terrible at your job and would rather employ Ivan Milat than you.

Or maybe not.

On Tinder/Grindr/SugarMomma.com (whatever floats your boat) you wouldn’t expect everyone to respond.

People get busy, they forget, they can’t be bothered. There are hundreds of reasons why someone doesn’t reply. Yes, you could get grumpy about them being rude, or you could accept that giving you work isn’t their top priority. They might know they’ve got nothing to give you right now. Don’t take it personally and email them again in a few months. Keep going. 

Some Examples to get you started

Example 1

Dear Mo,

My name’s Esther and I’m an experienced post producer. I understand that you’re crewing up for INSERT SHOW NAME. I love the humanity you bring to the characters and I think my experience in documentaries like INSERT NAME might make me a good fit.

I’m attaching my CV and I’d love to have a coffee with you to talk about any work.

Many thanks and I hope to speak to you soon.

Esther

Example 2

Dear Al,

My name’s Esther and I’m a recent graduate from INSERT COURSE NAME. I’ve volunteered on 5 short films, crewed on an C31 production and am making my own web series.

I think the work that INSERT PROD COMPANY NAME does is incredible. I particularly loved the characterisations in INSERT SHOW NAME.

Would you be free to grab a coffee (in person or on zoom) so we can meet? I’d love to pitch myself as a runner.

I’m attaching my CV.

Many thanks and I hope to speak to you soon.

Esther 

Want to practise? Email Denise or me. I promise we’ll reply!

 

About the author

Co-founder of Media Mentors, Esther Coleman-Hawkins is an experienced TV producer, conference organiser and career mentor. Media Mentors provides one-on-one mentoring and runs workshops and networking events for people in the creative industry. Sessions with her, or her co-founder Denise Eriksen, can be booked through their website www.mediamentors.com.au