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 Writing a Professional Job Search E-Mail

By Joe Stein

 As this point in time, the written communication between a job seeker and a prospective employer has almost entirely been transitioned to electronic form.  This usually means e-mail, but on rare occasions can also include text (if the Recruiter approves of doing this).  There is, of course, a right (or is it “write”) way to send an e-mail to a Recruiter or Hiring Manager.
Writing professionally does not have to be difficult. It really only takes some common sense and attention to detail to do it well.  In today’s work environment written and verbal communication skills are still highly valued, but appear to be at an all-time low in regards to the supply of candidates who possess this ability. Let’s now list some areas of focus in this area for you to consider.

Update the Formatting – It is OK if your e-mail does not take the formality of the written letter.  In other words, you do not need to list addresses at the top of the document, nor closely follow the full paragraph format.  For example, you can use style tools (such as bullet points) that are less likely to be found in a traditional mailed document.  E-mails are less likely to be word dense in nature, so make your point as quickly as possible in the text.  This is especially true since an e-mail may be given only a second or two of a glance before it is determined by the Recruiter whether to read further.

Use a Professional E-Mail Address – Dump the humorous or off-color e-mail address for your job search.  Use a very basic address utilizing your name as the base.  By doing this, you make it easier for a Recruiter to recognize upon receipt (so they don’t think it is spam or a phishing e-mail) and searchable if they file it.

Proofread Your Document – The most basic of everything on this list.  Don’t get sucked into thinking that since you are utilizing electronics, it means that you can be as informal as with your friends.  Spelling and grammar matters!  Utilize the Spelling/Grammar tool in Microsoft Word and have a friend or family member proofread if readily available to do so.  An extra set of eyes providing feedback can be of real value!

Fully Write It Out– On a similar vein, it will be tempting to write informally with non-sentences, abbreviations, or slang.  All of this is just as unacceptable in your job search electronic document as if written in a formal business type of letter.

Wisely Choose Your Subject Line – Unless your recipient is expecting your e-mail, you may be faced with the uncertainty of whether your submission will be opened.  If this is the case, your “subject line” in the e-mail may go a long way to determining if it is read.  Consider including the position you are interested in and perhaps a short statement on your qualifications.  An example would be, Sales Director – Candidate with 15 Years of Success.

Save Your History – Sending your documents electronically makes it much easier to save a record of your correspondence.  Create an electronic folder system that will allow you to easily organize your submissions for easy future reference.  You can then examine your folders for follow-up messages or to prepare for upcoming interviews, etc.

Don’t Overdo It – Since sending an e-mail can be as simple as hitting a button it can be very tempting to submit a message too often.  Just like someone should not be calling a Recruiter or Hiring Manager daily (or multiple times a day), this also applies for the sending of e-mail correspondence.  Rather than being considered persistent, you will most likely be labeled as annoying or unprofessional (or both!), and thereby eliminating your opportunity to land the desired position.

While a written Thank You note can be a nice touch, the reality of today’s fast moving job search process is that timing and current writing preferences has made it almost obsolete.  It is imperative, however, to not take the more informal method of e-mail as a reason to lower your written communication standards.  By taking great care in crafting your electronic messages, you can give yourself a real competitive advantage.

As always, best of luck in your job search!