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My 14 year old son recently told me, "No one uses email anymore."  Although this may be true from his perspective as one who texts 24/7, in the professional realm, email is still a frequent mode of communication.  When used professionally, it can be an effective tool in your job search.  Here are some common mistakes made in email communication, followed by suggestions from Nancy Friedman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training (www.telephonedoctor.com):

  • Messages that are too long - As in voice mail, we know that the more succinct the message, the better it is received. Especially now that we get emails not only on our computers, but on our phones and our iPads, it's critically important for our emails to be short, sweet and to the point.
    Suggestion: Shorten it up. Use bullets or numbers rather than writing long paragraphs.
  • Poor spelling and bad grammar - Inexcusable! Not to mention, using the wrong words. Dare we go into your/you're or there/their/they're, and to/too and two; it's and its or hear and here? Spell check will help the spelling; however, it will not catch the wrong tense. Only you can do that.  Receiving an email with poor English will detract from the message.
    Suggestion: Use your spell check and when in doubt - leave it out! Or use another word.
  • ALL CAPS - I believe using all caps can be appropriate if used minimally and to emphasize something important, such as writing THANK YOU! to someone who has gone above and beyond to assist you.  But, conventional wisdom says it shouldn't be used at all.  A definite no, no… SENDING AN ENTIRE EMAIL IN ALL CAPS.
    Suggestion: Use caps cautiously, carefully and kindly.
  • Not using names - Names are key and most people like their name (and they like it spelled right). Dear Mr. Jones or Dear Nancy in the salutation is much better than just starting the email out with no name. A plain "Hi," while better than nothing, doesn't convey professionalism and isn't very effective.
    Suggestion: Double check every email before you hit send to be sure names are used and     are spelled correctly. Misspelled names are a sure fire "no, no." The reader will spend more time thinking about you misspelling their name than reading the email.

And here are some additional tips of my own, specifically for using email in your job search:

  • Make sure you have an email account name that is appropriate for business use (i.e. firstname.lastname@gmail.com).
  • Copy yourself on all job search-related messages and keep them in a file for future reference if needed.
  • When you're applying for a job via email, copy and paste your cover letter into the email message or write your cover letter in the body of the message. If the job posting asks you to send your resume as an attachment, send your resume as a PDF document.
  • Include an email signature with your contact information, so it's easy for the hiring manager to get in touch with you.

Sample Email Signature:

    FirstName LastName
    Email Address
    Cell Phone
    Link to LinkedIn Profile (Optional)
Including a link to your LinkedIn profile is a good way to give the hiring manager more information on your skills and abilities.

  • Make sure you spell check and check your grammar and capitalization. They are just as important in an email cover letter as in paper cover letters.
  • Before you actually send your email, send the message to yourself first to test that the formatting works. If everything looks good, resend it to the employer.