WHAT’S OKAY TO SEND TO EMPLOYERS (and others) VIA E-MAIL:
YOUR FIRST CONTACT TO AN EMPLOYER (and others)?
For a first contact, e-mail employers when an employer specifically invites or instructs you to do so — with instructions on the employer’s web site, a job ad, a verbal conversation, other reliable advice, etc. Obviously if an e-mail address is provided by a person or web site, you can use it. If you can’t find an e-mail contact, you might be safer sending a resume and cover letter via hard copy.
Don’t ever send an e-mail without doing your research online first. If you ask a question easily answered on the organization’s web site, you’ll create the impression that you are lazy or unintelligent, or both. (Sorry if that seems harsh. But it’s the truth and we’d rather not see you make that mistake. And it’s worse if you claim on your resume that your skills include “Internet research.”)
Don’t send an e-mail randomly to someone saying “I’m not sure if you’re the correct person, but I figured you could forward this….” Don’t figure. If you write to the wrong person, s/he has no reason to respond or forward. Do your research, and say WHY you’re writing to the person (“you were listed as the contact for the XYZ job fair”).
RESPONDING TO EMPLOYERS (and others):
If an employer e-mails you, you can probably respond via e-mail. The key is to READ the e-mail sent by the employer and follow instructions. For example, it might instruct you to do some follow-up on-line or with another person.
Be very careful about noting TO WHOM and HOW you should respond. Morgan McKenzie of XYZ Inc., might send the e-mail, but instruct you to MAIL your resume and a cover letter to Chris Corrigan of XYZ.
E-mails that have been forwarded to you (or to many) and/or have gone through lots of forwarding may take more time for you to interpret. Read the details so you do the right thing. It won’t help you to send off a response to someone who just happened to forward the e-mail but isn’t the correct contact person.
When you reply to an e-mail, stick to the same subject and place your response at the top.
Don’t delete the content sent to you (unless there is something inappropropriate or unnecessary for your recipient to see). If you delete it, you force the person you write to dig up his/her prior e-mail to see what you’re responding to. Don’t waste people’s time.
Do delete unnecessary forwarding code and text that is irrelevant to the content. Again, don’t waste people’s time.
THANK YOU NOTES AFTER INTERVIEWS?
This question comes up a lot with students. An e-mail thank-you isn’t wrong. Employers will appreciate that you did at least send thanks. If you know that the person who interviewed you is travelling a lot, s/he may see your e-mail before getting back to the office to see hard copy mail. If the hiring decision will happen very quickly following the interview, an e-mail might be seen sooner than hard copy. Hard copy is still nice, shows that you really made an effort, and can follow up an e-mail.
JOB NEGOTIATIONS? IMPORTANT Qs ABOUT OFFER TERMS?
Negotiations are better conducted verbally than in writing. If you don’t understand the benefits package information provided with a job offer and have questions, a verbal conversation might be best. However, if speed is of the essence and you are only reaching voice mail by phone, you could alert the employer via e-mail that you have some questions and are hoping to speak directly. Suggest times when you might be available to speak.
TAKE YOUR CUES FROM EACH EMPLOYER:
If an employer has been communicating with you, take your cues from the employer. If s/he clearly prefers the phone and there’s no problem reaching each other, use the phone. If s/he uses e-mail, follow suit.
CONSIDER WHEN YOU NEED A WRITTEN RECORD:
If you do something important verbally — like agree upon an interview date and time, or accept a job offer — it’s important to follow up in writing, and an e-mail can serve that purpose. Usually an employer will confirm an interview time in writing, and an employer should always follow up a verbal employment offer with a written offer. But if the employer doesn’t, you can. Example: “Thank you so much for the offer of an interview at your McLean, Virginia, office. I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, March 7 at 8:00 a.m.” Putting information in writing creates a record and can (if worded clearly) protect everyone from confusion and misunderstanding.