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How to Find a Job (The Non-Traditional Way)

Estimated Time to Completion: 

4 hours

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Method 1: Cold-Email Companies

What is Cold Emailing?

Cold emailing is an unsolicited e-mail that is sent to a company employee you have never spoken to before. Cold emailing is harder than most communication for two reasons. You have no relationship with your audience yet, and you lack non-verbal feedback, so you can’t modify your approach in real time.

Here’s how to make sure your cold email is successful:

1. Tailor the message to the recipient. You need to do your research.

2. Find a commonality. Being part of the same group, especially if it’s a personal group, is a core human attraction. Look for unexpected connections, like hometowns and unusual hobbies.

  • In your case, look for companies founded by refugees or reach out to a refugee employee at the company you are looking to work at. See below for a list of refugee-friendly companies that might be a good place to start.

3. Keep it short, easy, and actionable. By asking for help, you are giving them the chance to feel good about themselves. But make it easy for them to help you out.

4. Be appreciative — and a little vulnerable. Everyone loves to feel good about themselves, so make the recipient of your email feel important. This gets results. Even just saying “Thank you so much! I am really grateful” to a request that doubles response rates.

5. Send your email at a convenient time. It is best to avoid sending your email very late at night or early in the morning. The recipient is likely to see the time stamp and wonder why you are contacting them at a strange hour. Try to send the email on a weekday around mid-morning if possible.

6. Proofread your email. Pay attention to your grammar and spelling before you send the email to make sure your email is professional and displays your written-communication skills. If English is not your first language, send your cold-email to a native English speaker who can make grammatical corrections for you. Feel free to reach out to the Key team for help with this --

Here are two great resources with some example cold emails that can help you craft your own template:

  1. Resource #1

  2. Resource #2

This is a great blog post by Indian immigrant Shikhar Sachdev. He details his own experience looking for work in the US as a foreigner. He provides concrete examples and tips on how he was able to get his job. One of the responses to his cold emails was “This is the best application I’ve ever seen.” Definitely worth the read!

Companies Hiring Refugees:

  1. Starbucks--Their goal is to hire 10,000 refugees by 2022

  2. Figure 8 Investment Strategies pledges to recruit, hire, and train refugees and provide refugee employees with access to key industry licenses and certifications (CFA, CFP, Series 7, 63, 65); partner with Global Talent Idaho and the Idaho Department

  3. Chobani--Founded by former refugee Hamdi Ulukaya. They plan to continue their current hiring practices. Nearly 30% of yogurt-factory employees are resettled refugees.

  4. DSM pledged to help refugees in the U.S. build language and cultural skills, and look for opportunities to hire them within the life-sciences and materials company

  5. Uber pledged to help resettled refugees in the U.S. find jobs as drivers.

Here is a full list of companies pledging to support refugees.

Key Tips for Cold Emailing:

  • Gmail has a schedule send feature that lets you send an email at any time. You can write the email late in the evening and “schedule send it for 9am” that way it is received during the work day (Here are instructions on how to do it)

  • To find someone’s email you can create a free account on RocketReach

  • If you can’t find someone’s email, you can always click connect on someone’s linkedin profile and then write a short message asking them to connect. WARNING: There is a short character limit on Linkedin messages (Here are 15+ sample Linkedin messages that all fit under the character limit that you can use!)

Method 2: Go In Person and Ask

You can always do it the old-fashioned way and go in and ask for available positions. Ironically, this might help you stand out in today’s digital age. This works great for retail or restaurant positions, as they can usually directly give you an application to fill out. Check out the local cafes and businesses in your community to see if they are hiring.



Send at least 3 emails to relevant people at companies you are interested in. Sending the first one may seem scary but worst case, they don’t respond or say no! There is no harm in trying. Best case they can connect you with someone who can get you a job.


In the next lesson, we will be covering the cultural differences that come with securing a job here in the USA vs in your home country. These are the unstated rules of the job search that you will likely not be told at any employment support office.

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