In any job search, connections can make the difference between continually feeling like you’re ringing a broken buzzer or actually getting your foot in the door.

One of the most effective and easily overlooked connections is those who attended the same school. Most often we associate those days with fun and camaraderie and these feelings are imparted on others from the same institution. So why not capitalize on this feel-good relation? All too often we ignore this option because we struggle with how to craft a smooth and impressive message.

The instant fix is a template! What has taken someone else hours of time and consideration will give you relief within minutes.

For example, consider the “Outreach to Fellow Alumnus” template sent in by fellow LinkedIn profile expert Brenda Bernstein:

Dear {First Name},

As a fellow alumnus of {fill in educational institution} and a {fill in your current position/situation}, I am reaching out to you to see if you might have time to chat. I am currently seeking a position as a {fill in position}, and I’m betting you have some insights into this role.

I’d love to hear about your experience in the industry as well as your ideas on steps I can take toward meeting my goals. I have a lot to offer a company as a {fill in position}, including {fill in what you offer}. Here are a few examples of my accomplishments:

Please let me know if you can carve out a moment to share ideas and also to let me know how I can support you. I’m attaching my resume for your reference. I look forward to hearing from you!

{Your Name}

So that you can fully appreciate the power of this tool, let me highlight a few of the ways in which Brenda has carefully crafted this template and saved everyone lots of time, struggle, and potential missteps!

First, Brenda starts right off the bat with the school connection. Let’s face it, time is limited in our fast-paced society and sometimes we only read the first line of an email before deciding to ignore or delete it. Initial pleasantries (like, “I hope you are doing well”) are sweet but may lose you the recipient’s attention.

Second, while Brenda is direct in saying that that the point of the contact is to set up a time to talk, she also uses more casual words like “chat” and “betting” to lighten the tone of the message.

Third, the author compliments the reader by saying he or she might have potential “insights” and has sought-after experience in the field, which is an honest and warm way to show that the reader has done his or her homework before making this contact.

Last, the sender gives just a few examples of his or her qualifications and attaches a resume. It is amazing how many people forget to do this and thus lose the chance for a powerful initial impression (and sometimes a quick hire!).

Below are a few more templates, sent in by another career coach, Sudy Bharadwaj, that use either an informal or a formal tone. Note that Sudy starts with pleasantries, such as, “Hope all is going well.” This is done if there has already been an initial contact or if the subject line is quite clear on the alumni connection (to ensure that you don’t lose the reader in the beginning).

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Subject: Fellow U of A Alum

Hey Jonathan,

Hope all is going well. It’s always great to connect with fellow Wildcats.

I was hoping you could help me out. I just recently left one of your competitors in the AAA space, COMPANY-X, and am looking for a new position.

My specialty is business development. My whole career has been focused on generating qualified opportunities for the sales reps I support, and I have very unique strategies to get to the C-level and map a strategic solution to the executive’s business plan.

I would like to talk with you about how I can be an asset to COMPANY-Y. When would be a good time to contact you?

Warm Regards,
Steven W
University of Arizona, class of 1998


Subject: Fellow U of A Alum

Hello Jonathan,

I hope this note finds you well; it is always exciting to connect with fellow Alumni. I am in job-search mode and I notice various openings at ABC.

While our paths never crossed at U of A, I am hoping you can help out a fellow alum and either refer me to the hiring manager, or submit my application in your HR-hiring system. The jobs of interest are listed below.

Thank you so much for your help and I wish you continued success!

Jan Stevens
University of Arizona, class of 1998

The bottom line is that when you’re in the thick of job hunting you don’t want to delay your success by rewriting the book. Use templates as a starting off point to get your gears turning so you just fill in your unique information, click send and get one step further to your goal!

Part 1: LinkedIn inMail Templates: Contacting Graduates of Your Alma Mater
Part 2: LinkedIn inMail Templates: Hitting Up Former Colleagues
Part 3: LinkedIn inMail Templates: Referencing Mutual Connections

Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies, is recognized as one of the nation's top authorities in Social Media Career Advancement. To learn Joshua’s secret strategies for shortening the job search and getting the right job right away, Get The Missing Manual for LinkedIn Success

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