Philip Guo (Phil Guo, Philip J. Guo, Philip Jia Guo, pgbovine)

Examples of Good and Bad Cold Emails

A good cold email is something that I can respond to within one minute. Here is an example I just received:

This student told me who he was, what he wanted from me, and why I should care (he received a rare A+ grade in my class). Then he laid out his schedule so that I could see if it fit with mine. I responded almost immediately. Great cold-email!

Contrast this with the following not-so-good cold email:

This email is short, which is great! But a bit too short. This student hasn't told me who he is or why I should care. I receive far too many of these generic emails that I cannot respond to them all. It turns out that this student also got an A+ in my class last semester! But he neglected to mention this key fact that would've made me instantly take notice. (I vaguely remembered his name, so I looked up his grade in my old spreadsheet and saw that he got an A+. But that took extra effort, which I probably wouldn't have expended if I were busier at the moment.)

Both students came from the exact same context: they took my class last semester, got an A+, and wanted to now discuss research opportunities. Who made the better first impression, based solely on their cold email? Definitely the first one.

Created: 2016-01-16
Last modified: 2016-01-16