Recently one of my clients asked me for a favor. Would I meet with a young "friend of a friend" who was looking to build a career in Human Resources to discuss her interests and possible opportunities at any of my clients. Her background sounded interesting so we communicated via e-mail and arranged to meet at a coffee shop last week. The day before our scheduled meeting I received this e-mail:
"Hey I am so sorry, but I just found out that I have an exam next Wednesday so I won't be able to meet Wednesday morning. My exam isn't until 1pm on Wednesday so I won't be available until around 3pm that day. I don't know if you are free later on that afternoon/evening or not. If not than we could try to meet on Friday or Saturday if either of those would work for you. Again I am really sorry about this. I didn't think I had any exams or papers next week. Let me know what you think when ever you find the time."
I really don't know what I am supposed to do with this whirling circle of words, so - as of yet - I have not responded. Which brings me to my point today. If you are going to communicate via e-mail with potential employers, try following these suggestions for making a better impression and forging a connection:
- Be succinct! The note above contains TIM - too much information. The reader is left wondering if a) the writer is completely out of control of their life; b) the writer doesn't really want to meet and that's why she is being so vague; c) the writer is simply an immature professional - not a bad thing, but not a good impression to be making either; or d) you fill in the blank. It would have been more effective to simply say, "I am so sorry for any inconvenience this causes you but I have an unavoidable conflict with our Wednesday AM meeting. Could we reschedule at a time that would be convenient for you? Some dates and times I can suggest are..."
- Use proper capitalization, punctuation and grammar. This one needs no explanation - if it does, then you might not be ready to look for a corporate job.
- Give a clear subject for your e-mail. Your subject line should briefly summarize the content of your note - such as "Follow-up to Phone Call" or "Bill Jones Resume for Ops Manager Position." For business correspondence don't use subject lines such as "Hi" or "Let's get together!" Leaving the subject line blank is just plain annoying.
- Name your attachments effectively. If you e-mail documents someone, give them a name that helps the receiver use them effectively or find them easily if they look. For example, if you send your resume, name the document "Laurie Candidate Resume" or even "Lori Candidate Resume for Ops Manager". Many recruiters comment on how often they receive resumes simply named "Resume" which keeps an individual resume from standing out. Occasionally I receive resumes with interesting names that may be useful to the candidate for locating them on his hard drive but aren't helpful to me at all. I have received resumes called "Bill Smith Resume - Mom's edits" and "Bills Kick Butt Resume".
- Send attachments in as simple a form as possible. Unless you know what type of technology system your recipient has, send any attachments in as simple a form as possible - no pictures, no funky fonts, no large files to download.
- Assume anything you send can and likely will be forwarded. If you are looking for a job, and your resume catches the attention of the Recruiter or Hiring Manager, she will likely want to send it on to a few others in the company so be sure your message is succinct and professional.
The list could go on and on - but you get the main point:
Be professional, and try to think about the perspective of your recipient.
What tips have you found to be effective for communicating with prospective employers via e-mail? What things would you definitely NOT do? Please leave a comment and share your wisdom!