We’ve all been on the receiving end of the “email deluge,” and they range from excellent to those we can’t wait to delete.
When you’re in the middle of a job search, put yourself in the shoes of your target recipient. The hiring manager – or recruiter – is extremely busy, already paging through hundreds of emails every day, and has priorities aside from filling the position you’re applying for.
Even worse, he or she is under tremendous pressure to hire the very best candidate, since the cost of a bad hire is so high. So there is little to no tolerance for poorly written emails.
Now, pretend you are standing in front of the hiring manager, recruiter, or even a hiring committee reading your email aloud. And each one of them has your email in front of them in a printed version. Do you come across clear, confident, knowledgeable, and capable of filling the position?
Your emails are a reflection of your future email communications IF you are hired for that job. If you have typos, are too casual, or have grammatical errors, the assumption is that your work-related emails will have the same characteristics. The good news is that this works to your advantage if your emails are perfect. And, candidates, they need to be perfect! Every time!
Requirements for all job search related emails – not just cover letters:
Write to a Specific Person. Whether emailing a company, a recruiter, or networker for a job, address your email to a specific person rather than the “info” or “HR” address. You’ll get a lot more responses this way.
If you have a person’s name but not their email address, direct the “info@” email to your person in both the subject and salutation (Dear Mr. Smith) with the hopes that the company recipient will forward it to him or her. You may be able to locate the right person online; search Bing or LinkedIn. Any attempt to address the email personally is better than a lousy “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam.”
Make the Subject Line Work for You. The best subject lines are “Applicant for Job #######, Sarah Jones” or “Sarah Jones Credentials for Job Posting #####” or “Marketing Manager at GE, <Position Code> – Sarah Jones.”
Blank subject lines or generic ones like “Job Applicant” can go into spam or be the victim of the dreaded delete button. I’ve received emails with really poor subject lines, such as: “Interested in your job” and “Hire Me!”
Salutations Must Be Formal. The salutation should always be Dear Ms./Mr. Johnson. If you don’t have a name, then use “Dear Hiring Manager.”
Formal Business Letter Structure: If you are a novice at writing business letters, then go to Microsoft.com and type “business letter template.” A business letter has a specifically structured format. Your email body should essentially be a cover letter explaining who you are and why you would be a good selection for the position. It is okay to have the cover letter in the body of the email as well as attached.
Complete Email Signature is Very Important: The signature block in your email can be automatically set in your Outlook options under “Mail.” Most candidates just sign “Bill” or “Bill Smith.”
But look, job seekers, don’t you want the reader to forward your email to other potentially interested people within their company? So put your email address in the signature, since it will be lost once your email is forwarded. And include your phone, your address, and your LinkedIn profile link, if you have one.
Send From a PC: Mobile devices will be used more and more in the job search process over the next 5 years. However, today, do NOT send a job search communication of any type via your mobile phone. It gives the perception that you are conducting your job search from a car, walking down the street, or in between something else more important. Hiring managers don’t want to see “Sent from my Windows Phone,” “Sent from my iPhone/iPad,” etc. And, most importantly, your signature block is usually missing.