E-mail is probably the most common form of communication in the modern job search. You might use e-mail for networking, submitting resumes, following up, and more. Since e-mails are so important in so many stages of your job search, you want to avoid e-mail miscommunication. Here are some tips for ensuring that your e-mails are clear and effective.
The right subject line
Your subject line should reflect the nature of your e-mail. If you’re submitting a resume for a position, state the position in the subject line. If you’re following up, include the specific event in the subject line. A clear subject line will let your contact know why you’re contacting them and why they should open your e-mail. Create a connection and a compelling reason to read your email with your subject line so your message won’t get lost in an inbox.
Proper greeting and closing
E-mail is much less formal than a written letter, but that doesn’t mean you should skip formality completely. If you’re contacting someone for the first time, don’t skip straight into the message. Use “Dear” with a title and a last name. And don’t forget to sign off with your full name and contact information.
Customizing your message
Don’t copy-and-paste the same message to every contact. Including specified details in each e-mail shows that you’re interested in your contact, whereas cookie cutter messages are impersonal and can sometimes seem insincere.
Beyond spell check
Definitely use spell check, but also keep in mind that spell check won’t catch every typo. If you write “than you” instead of “thank you,” you’re still using real words and spell check won’t notice. Be sure to check “your” versus “you’re,” “its” versus “it’s,” “too” versus “to” versus “two,” and “their” versus “there” versus “they’re.” It’s easy for little mistakes to slip through and compromise the professionalism of your message.
Since e-mails lack vocal and facial cues, punctuation plays a huge part in establishing the tone of your message. Too many exclamation marks can make you seem overly excited. And as a rule, avoid ellipses. They signal that something is being left unsaid, and your professional contacts should not have to guess what you want to say.
Don’t let email reverse the progress you’ve made in your job search. When used properly and effectively, your email will enhance your connections with people you met or want to meet. Remind yourself to follow these guidelines every time you write an email.