How To Get A Job: A True Story (Part 1)

In the past, when people asked me for advice on how to go about getting their dream job, I would look off into the distance and appear reflective. Really, I was likely recalculating the exact age difference between Padma Lakshmi and her billionaire baby daddy (I'm good with timelines) or deciding what I was going to order for dinner that night (I take a long time ordering off menus, so like to plan in advance). When I would eventually refocus on the dream-job question at hand and answer, I'd say vague and unhelpful things like, "That's a good question!" and, "Why not pick up a book about how to do it?" or, "Networking is important!" This was the extent of my contribution to the future dream-job holders of America.

Now, however, that has all changed.

Thanks to one amazing email I got a few months back, I now can point to the perfect template of how to go about pitching yourself for a job you want (in email form, at least). Let's look at the actual email I received, and then I'll break down why it works so well:

To Claire,

I want to work for you and here is why:

  1. I have worked for numerous organizations such as Kiva, XXX and XXX (all huge organizations you've heard of) and want to work on the platform that helps promote the causes that I like fighting for.
  2. I love social media such and believe in harnessing the power of marketing to use for good.
  3. I have read Twitter for Good and follow your blog and that should count for something.
  4. My undergraduate degree in Business Marketing and my graduate degree in International Relations means I am not a slacker. I have gone to school, worked and interned all at the same time and can handle many different tasks thrown at me.
  5. I am sure you work a million hours a week and need help... that's where I come in. You must need an assistant, helper, and/or motivator, whatever. I can do all of those things and more.

Here is what we have in common:

  1. We both have bangs... you can always trust someone with bangs.
  2. We both have traveled throughout East Africa, you starting your own nonprofit in Kenya and me as a fellow in Uganda for Kiva.
  3. We tweet for good. You tweet tips for organizations and I follow those tips and implement them at organizations. I have been the primary Twitter contributor for XXX for the past three months and increased the followers by 800-2,000 per week.
  4. We both love a good poncho, ballet flats, chai tea, the real housewives, brie and people with calming voices according to your new favorite things part on your website. I promise I am not a stalker but I just love the idea of social innovation with the idea of using social media to spotlight the organizations that are changing the world.

If you are interested in any of this or have any ideas on where I can share my enthusiasm for nonprofits and social media, please let me know. Any help would be GREATLY APPRECIATED!!! Just for good measure I have attached my resume and a recent letter of recommendation.

Thanks for your time,


That was good, wasn't it? Let's break down the top reasons why this email worked so well:

  1. She got to the point immediately. Notice the first line: "I want to work for you and here is why." By not beating around the bush, she has avoided the number-one most annoying aspect of most email pitches people send: the 400-word, extensive background paragraph before you get to the Ask. The next time you're sending an email asking something, put the Ask first. Edit out the background paragraph, or include it at the end if you absolutely must.

  • She found similarities we have and talked about them. Specifically, she poured over my Favorite Things list and found some great commonalities. As she said, "We both love a good poncho, ballet flats, chai tea, the real housewives, brie and people with calming voices." She is right, and this makes me like her so much more.
  • She was funny. Saying things like "I read your blog and that should count for something" and "I promise I'm not a stalker" are ballsy. But they work. Well.
  • She wrote well. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I am surrounded in my world my people who don't speak English as their first language. I am used to the people I love most saying things like, "Siri, where I am?" and, "Where are the fishes?" That said, I like me some witty English, especially in a job pitch. If you happen to share a mother tongue with your prospective employer or pitch receiver, flaunt that stuff.
  • In sum, she did good. Real good.

    And although I didn't exactly give her a job as a result of this amazing email, the real story of what happened next was far more interesting.