The more we immerse ourselves in this text and Twitter-crazed world, the worse our written communication habits become. Here's the problem - if you're job searching, you're usually dependent on your written communication to make the best possible first impression on a recruiter (after all, you usually write to someone before you talk to them). If your etiquette is poor, well...you know the rest. So here are some things to think about:
1. Don't use a shared email account
Email addresses like email@example.com may be fine for personal business, if that's what you prefer, but don't use that for job searching - it sends the message that the email account isn't private, and it could make the recruiter wonder whether the email will even get to you.
Create your own address using Gmail, Outlook, or whatever else you choose, and monitor it daily while you're job searching.
2. Attach your name to your email account
Look over your own inbox right now. Chances are you'll see mostly first names, sometimes first AND last names, sometimes all lowercase, etc. - but occasionally you'll see weird stuff. That's because when the person signed up for their email account, instead of typing in their normal name where it says NAME, they put something else there - usually for privacy reasons.
But if you want to catch the recruiter's attention - in a good way - stick to your normal name (with the first letter capitalized). They will be more likely to notice it when they peruse their inbox, remember who you are, and, hopefully, get back to you. If you used something other than your name, your email is more likely to hit the trash.
3. Write SOMETHING in the subject line and body of the email
Seriously, write something in the subject line and body of the email. Anything. Okay, well not just anything.
Probably once a month or so I get an email from someone who has attached their resume but written nothing in the subject line or body of the email. Nothing at all. I guess I'm supposed to figure out what they're after, which, in terms of my business, could be a quote for a new resume, a question about their existing resume, or sometimes people even think I can hire them.
If you send a recruiter your resume and don't write anything in the subject line or body of the email, don't hold your breath waiting for a reply.
4. Say hi
I know, I know. Conventional wisdom says we're drowning in information these days so keep emails short and sweet. I get it. But come on, we can't even start off with "Hi" anymore? Are we sooooo busy that all pleasantries just get dropped?
Here's my reaction to an email that doesn't start off with a greeting. If it just says "Michael," and then jumps into the purpose of the email, then - to me - it looks like a command. Michael, answer my question. Michael, send me a quote. Michael, write a new resume for me for free. Sure, I'll get right on that.
Starting off with "Hi" softens your stance a bit and injects some friendliness and courtesy into the exchange - something that is desperately needed today, in my view.
5. Don't say "thanks in advance"
Usually we're emailing someone because we want something, but don't end your email with "Thanks in advance!"
Here is what "Thanks in advance" actually means: It means you're assuming the person will do whatever you asked (or told) them to do. It also means you don't have to thank them after they've done what you asked them to do, which is really when the "thank you" is more appropriate.
Again, in my case, "Thanks in advance for reviewing my resume" implies that you definitely expect me to review your resume - no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It also implies that, if I do review your resume, I shouldn't expect a thank you because, well, you already thanked me, so no need to do it again.
Common courtesy 101 - ask politely with a please, and thank the person afterwards. Which leads us to...
6. Ask, don't demand
Recruiters probably don't like being "told" to call you for an interview, the same way I don't like being "told" to review your resume, and you don't like being "told" to get your resume rewritten before you resubmit it. We all appreciate being asked to do something. "Pretty please with sugar on top" isn't needed, but common courtesy is.
People who ask are more likely to get what they want. In my case, people who demand that I review their resume somehow end up at the bottom of my priority list, regardless of when their email hit my inbox.
7. Introduce yourself
"If I'm emailing you my resume, why do I need to introduce myself? We just chatted on LinkedIn last week."
Here's why: Recruiters are extremely busy and have "chats" going on with many people at a time - sometimes on LinkedIn, sometimes on Twitter, and who knows where else. If they're like me, they probably have 50-100 emails in their inbox at any given time, representing current conversations they are engaged in.
If you send them your resume and don't start off with a brief introduction (depending, of course, on how long ago and how often you have conversed), they may not know who you are. At the very least, say something like:
As you requested in our conversation on LinkedIn last Wednesday, I am sending you my updated resume with a clearer outline of my career path with Sports Authority and Best Buy. Please let me know if you need any additional information, and I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience.
Let the recipient know how you heard of them - it will help lower their guard.
8. Reply within 24 hours
If I could, this would be tip #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6....and maybe #7 too. It's that important.
Communication is often about leaving messages and receiving messages. Until you get in a phone conversation (or Skype chat or Hangout or....) or a live face-to-face meeting, communication means sending emails, receiving emails, leaving voice messages, and receiving voice messages. It's fragmented rather than real time.
While this type of communication is great because it means we can prepare and send our messages when it's convenient for us, the downside is that we can never be 100% certain that the message has been received.
It's simply not okay to take however long you want to reply to an email message, the same way it's not okay to do that with voice messages. If you're involved in any type of professional communication, including a job search, reply within 24 hours (one business day). That doesn't mean you have to have an answer or resolution within 24 hours - it simply means you're acknowledging receipt of the email.
So if a recruiter emails you and asks for references, don't ignore the email, take a week or two to compile your information, and then reply with your list. If you do, you'll probably find they moved on.
Check your email every day and reply within 24 hours.
9. Follow-up on the same thread
One of my big pet peeves. As I said, I often have up to 100 emails in my inbox at any given time, whether it's current clients, prospective clients, outstanding invoices, networking emails, etc. I'm sure many recruiters have the same. We don't need 101, or 110, or 150. Help us out here.
Not only do emails in new threads just make our inbox that much longer, it makes communication that much more difficult. If you send me your resume in one email, and I reply to that email asking for more information, and then you send that information in a completely new email, I have to try and reply to the new email while accessing information from our original conversation in the earlier thread. Does that make sense? Instead of simply scrolling to see what we discussed previously, I now have to try and bounce back and forth between threads.
If you do it a third time, well - I might just need a vacation.
Please reply to the same email so recruiters, and all recipients, can easily scroll through the last exchange to recall what was being discussed. It makes life so much easier for everyone.
10. Don't cc everyone you can think of
I actually don't get this one a lot, but I know others do. Probably because I don't have any co-workers.
It likely doesn't happen very often in job search communications, but, just in case, think before you carbon copy anyone on an email. Does that additional person really need this info? Am I doing it for selfish reasons? Is my ego getting the better of me? Will they even understand why they're copied on this?
Sometimes cc's are necessary, but - as many will attest - they are waaaaaay overused.
That's it - 10 tips to help you communicate better and make a great first impression on recruiters. Happy emailing and best of luck!
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