Part 2 of 4
Written correspondence carries weight, whether it’s in the job search, on the job or in our everyday life. Like it or not, as the old ad said, people judge you by the words you use.
Last time I addressed the cover letter. Today I’ll dive into tips for effective emails and texts, and will take a quick look at social media communications.
Generally speaking, when it comes to communicating with most companies during the hiring process, they prefer email because it puts all communication on their company’s email server. This provides an easily accessible record of everything. Avoid texts and LinkedIn messaging when contacting hiring officials once you’re in that hiring process.
What goes into a professional email? You’ll get differing opinions on that, but here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
Don’t put the recipient’s email address in the “To” space until you’re fully ready to send the message. Accidentally hitting “send” before you’re ready is a recipe for disaster.
Emails with nothing in the subject line. Why should I care to open something when you don’t care enough to tell me what it’s about? Make the subject line compelling and relevant.
Brevity. Long-winded emails are similar to those two- or three-minute voice messages. Get to the point. A few sentences should suffice in most cases, especially when it’s a job search email. Length may differ when it’s a more complicated message and topic, but that’s usually the case when co-workers are hashing out topics or when vendors are explaining solutions.
Reread for tone. Since your recipient can’t hear your tone of voice and can’t see our body language when you send an email, take care to ensure your tone is as you intended. Avoid all caps, since that’s yelling. Look to where you could soften your wording so you don’t sound accusatory or demanding.
Proofread. Once you’ve drafted the message, take a couple more looks at it. Are you conveying not only the words, but the tone, of what you’re trying to say? Typos will detract from whatever you’re saying, so make sure spelling and punctuation are accurate.
Who invented the dreaded auto-correct? How many times have you typed something, only to discover your word(s) were changed to something entirely different? Be sure to review any text to ensure it’s what you’d meant to say. I’m very hesitant to use texting for at least a couple reasons. First, the HR person wants things on their company’s email server. Second, texting is a bit more of a ‘personal’ interaction … something you may not want to ‘push’ during the hiring process. At this point you’re just an applicant for the job. Texting to someone’s cell phone, unless they’ve given you permission, is (to me) nothing I want to receive.
If you do text, be sure to text as you would when speaking to someone or at least when emailing them. Use complete sentences, accurately spell out each word and avoid acronyms only my children might understand.
I’ll dive deeper into LinkedIn in part four of this four-part series. For today, though, my advice is what you’ve heard for years. Don’t say things you wouldn’t want your grandmother or boss to hear. When in doubt, leave it out.
And when you do post/comment … be sure to use correct spelling and grammar. As I said at the outset, the old ad was right … people do judge you by the words you use.
If you’re a professional in the midst of a search, our services are free. Contact me and good luck!
Randy Wooden is a long-time Triad career consultant and director of Goodwill Industries of Northwest N.C.’s Professional Center. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or a 336-464-0516.