We talk a lot about job interview etiquette, and for good reason: It can make or break your chances of getting the position. But maintaining quality at every point of communication is equally important. Each exchange is a part of your personal brand. That’s why we work with our clients on their job-seeking email etiquette as well. Consider these suggestions for message success:
1.) Limit your exclamation points! Few things in a job-seeking email call for them, and an excess looks unprofessional. Save the exclamation points for your really, really, really exciting weekend plans!!!
2.) Do not use emoticons or text shorthand. Remember that phrase that we tell 2-year-olds? Use your words. And make them good ones. Employ a thesaurus if you find that you’re repeating yourself. Let your tone and your phrasing indicate warmth, and a smiley face will be completely unnecessary.
3.) Respond promptly. We may not need to mention this, but job-seeking email etiquette calls for a reply within 24 hours. If you’re like most looking for a job, you’re glued to your inbox. But if you do step away, be sure you check in regularly.
4.) Write a draft. Never hit send immediately after completing your email. Write it and let it sit for a bit. Go away and take a walk, do some laundry, whatever. Give it time to marinate. Come back within that 24-hour window and read it aloud. Spell check. Once you’ve proofed and tweaked, then fire away.
5.) Reply to all. If you’ve been sent an email that includes others at the company to which you’re applying, good job-seeking email etiquette calls for a “reply all.” Don’t force the people who are deciding upon your future to chase around your response.
6.) Use a logical subject line. If you’re initiating an email, write a concise, specific subject line. Avoid all caps, which could be mistaken for spam. If it makes sense, use your name in the subject line so that your email can be found quickly in a sort of an inbox.
7.) Reference attachments. This is good job-seeking email etiquette for several reasons. First, it alerts the recipient that he or she should look for them. Second, it identifies the number of attachments, so that both you and your recipient can be sure they all arrived. Third, if you’ve typed the word “attachment” in your email but failed to attach anything before you hit send, certain email clients such as Gmail will ask whether you really want to send without an attachment. It’s embarrassing to have to send a follow-up message because you’ve forgotten to include something the first time, so this feature can save your bacon.
8.) Keep it brief. Be direct and concise. People are busy; a long email could potentially annoy or frustrate your recipient. If you need to make several points, use bullet points.
9.) Include contact information. As you close your message, reiterate the ways in which you can be reached–your email address and phone number.
Don’t assume that because you’re “dashing off a quick reply” that casualness is ok or standards are irrelevant when sending a job-seeking email. In fact, never dash off a quick reply! Give your electronic communication the same consideration that you give your interview. Professionalism is key for message success.
Photo by ohmega1982, freedigitalphotos.net