Tap the Hidden Job Market

If you want to identify a career opportunity in the hidden job market, it’s a must that you have to have an inside contact. Chances are you don’t have that relationship or you would not be looking to learn how to start a conversation with a stranger. This person who doesn’t know you will only give you the right time of day if they perceive that there is something in it for them. This could be that you know someone they would like to meet, you have an experience that strikes their curiosity, you have knowledge or a skill they find interesting or they need to acquire, they like to mentor, you come highly recommended, etc.

Why This Template

I think this email template is an effective (with modifications to suit) introduction in a handwritten note, hard copy , in person, by phone or leaving a voice message. It provides a solid foundation to initiate a new relationship with someone who doesn’t know you and has no clue about why you are contacting them out of the blue. The key is to do the research so that you know as much as possible about their professional and personal background  to tailor your pitch to appeal to their interests and to demonstrate that you seriously WILL NOT waste their time. The more you can personalize your communication, whether in writing or delivered live, the greater likelihood of attracting attention and gaining the respect of the other person, your target contact.

This is adapted from Alex Banayan’s format on page 50 of The Third Door.

Dear (Name)

I know that you’re really busy and that you get a lot of emails, so this will only take sixty seconds to read.


[Here is where you say who are you are: add one or two lines that establish your credibility.] *


[Here is where you ask your very specific question.] **


I totally understand if you’re too busy to respond, but even a one-or-two-line reply*** would really make my day.



Your name

Detailed Instructions for More Cold Contact Success

*Apply your research findings to substantiate your credentials and demonstrate that you share an interest, an experience, there’s a mutual contact, academic or company affiliation, career path, etc. (including a vendor, geographical location, something that inspires you, a sport or hobby, etc.) A  good example is a brief success story or career highlight that demonstrates that you are authentic and take this request seriously and not just shooting off similar correspondence to anyone but that shows you carefully selected this person and here’s why!

**This is where you make the “ask,” which is the response you want:. Be specific about what recommendations, suggestions, referrals, lessons learned, advice, own experience, instructions, meeting (give reason!), etc. you’d like them to share. Be ever mindful of their time. Always be extremely courteous and remember, you are the one making the request so be ready to adapt your schedule to theirs and definitely do not make it difficult to coordinate calendars. Keep it simple. Prioritize your asks. Don’t overwhelm with too complex a question that requires a lot of thinking or multiple actions. ( If this introduction works, you will have other chances to get more advice so choose carefully and your first ask should be one they can address conveniently, will not take more then a few minutes to address and ideally, will make them feel good for helping you.)

***Be sure to send a thank you note or email or voice message if that is the contact’s preferred communication channel. As above, adapt to their style not only shows that you are sensitive to other people’s non-verbal communication but that also you appreciate this particular individual’s attention and it reassure them that they did not waste their time on someone who doesn’t appreciate a kind gesture.

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