Email makes job hunting very easy, which is both positive and negative. Positive because it means that you can reach out to a great many different potential jobs as you want; but negative because it means that many other people may be doing the same thing, thus making it that much harder to stand out. Here are some tips to make your email stand out:
1) Research the person you are sending your resume to. If you are responding to an online ad, they usually offer you a generic email box like “Hiring manager” or “jobs.” You’ll want to send your response and resume there, because it shows that you follow directions and someone might be specifically monitoring it for that position. However, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle when you send something to a generic email box. A better strategy is to find the name of the person who’s hiring for the job and send it directly to them. There are several ways to go about determining a contact person:
- Call the company and ask “Who’s hiring for x position?” They might respond that all inquiries should be sent to a specific mailbox, which is fine. See if you can dig a little deeper though, and tell the receptionist that you had a quick question or you were hoping to do some additional research. That might yield the name you are looking for.
- Search for the contact on LinkedIn. This could be a whole post in itself but there are lots of ways to find contacts on LinkedIn. Try searching for the company and then employees and see if there’s someone who works in the department where you are applying.
- Google the company name and the position who you believe might be in charge of the hiring, i.e. Marketing Manager, Accounting Manager, etc.
2) Include a personal note. In the email you send to the name you have found, make sure to let them know that you are also sending your resume to the generic hiring mailbox, but you wanted to make a more personal contact as well. Find out if they are the person doing the hiring or if they know who is. Even if it’s not them, they might give you a name to whom you can send your resume. That’s always the best way to get noticed.
3) Use an engaging subject line. Whether the email is going to a specific name or the general job mailbox, make sure that you use a subject line that is better than a generic “job” or “applicant.” You might rephrase the characteristics that they are looking for such as “Accounting Manager with x years of experience” to pull them in. Don’t ever leave the subject line blank.
4) Make sure your email address is professional. I have heard some people say they don’t open emails from an AOL or Hotmail address. That might be a bit drastic but those more old school addresses might brand you as less technically savvy. A better choice might be to get a new free one from Gmail. And of course make sure your “name” is your name. Don’t use anything silly, like “catlover” or too family-ish like “Smith5.” Have an email that reflects your professionalism.
5) Double-check your attachments. If you are sending your resume in an attachment make sure that the file size isn’t too big or it can clog up the recipient’s email. Usually text files are fine, but if you have added any photos or video portfolio, for example, you should make sure it’s not too large and if it is, downsize what you can. Don’t forget to send the attachment and take a minute to click on it to make sure you are sending the right one.
6) Send yourself the email first to make sure the spacing comes through. It still might look different on their screen, but sending it to yourself can help you see immediately if there are errors in spacing that you could fix.
7) Use a professional tone. Sometimes it can be tempting to view email as very informal but you want to make sure that you are always using a professional tone to put your best foot forward. Use a greeting and a signature, just as you would with a letter.
8) Make use of formatting elements. Since your recipient might be reading your email on a mobile device, it’s best to keep it relatively short and use stylistic elements, such as bolding, bullets and/or underlining to make it easy to read. At the least, keep paragraphs short to make it easier to digest.
9) Proofread over and over. Double and triple check all your spelling and grammar to make sure that it is all perfect. It’s also a great idea to print out your email and read a hard copy for a formal proofreading.
10) Make sure your read receipt is off. Some people activate this feature to find out if and when someone has opened their email. But, the recipient knows you have sent it and it can be very off-putting. Also, it’s not even helpful. Knowing someone opened your email doesn’t put you any closer to having a job. You don’t know if they liked it, hated it, filed it for future reference, forwarded it or deleted. In many ways it can cause more anxiety to know someone opened it when you don’t know what they did with it.
11) Remember email is just one element of the job hunt. Since, as we said at the beginning, it’s so easy to send emails, it’s sometimes hard to remember that sending the email is just one step in the job hunt process. Following up with a phone call and/or a polite message (reference your email and then send it again!) is a great way to demonstrate that you have tenacity and are interested in the position.
Email can be a boon to job seekers, since it’s a low-key way to reach out without feeling like you are pestering someone by catching them at an inopportune moment on the phone or that your resume got lost in the mail. Just be sure to treat the outreach as you would any other job hunting contact – with professionalism and an eye to detail.
by Cathie Ericson