Email Etiquette Mistakes That Are Costing You The Job Offer

Looking for work can itself feel like a full-time job.  Gone are the days when one only had to review the classified ads, call for an appointment or simply just drop by the hiring employer and speak to someone about the job (yes, this actually used to happen!).

Today there are recruiters, job boards on the Internet, online forums, constant reminders about the importance of networking, and various and sundry other things, all of which require time and effort to organize and keep organized.

Fortunately, there are many tools available to help you conduct your job search.  Where would you be, for example, without the ability to research job opportunities or potential employers on the web?  What if there was no such thing as an online job application?

Consider what your job search strategy would look like if you didn’t have email, perhaps the most efficient communication tool available.  Of course, as so often happens with any tool, you should take certain safety precautions so that you don’t do yourself (in this case, your job search) any harm.

Here, then, are some email etiquette mistakes that can potentially cost you a job offer:

The courtesy of a reply is requested.  Now, while emails rarely contain such an explicit request, it is almost always implied.  If, during the course of a job search, you are sent an email from a recruiter or prospective employer, reply.

Even if the contents are informational only, acknowledgement of receipt via a simple thank you exhibits common courtesy as well as professionalism.

Please contact me at… .  Common wisdom has long held that we should provide others with all of our contact information (address, home and business telephone numbers, personal and business email addresses, etc.) and common wisdom would be wrong.  To do so reeks of a certain amount of desperation.

And, perhaps more fundamentally, if you are communicating with someone during a job search via email, there isn’t a great deal of mystery left about how you can be contacted.  So we suggest that you only provide contact information that you’re likely to access such as your email and cell number (unless you do actually still use your land line at home).

Don’t speak in txt.  You are communicating via email, not Snapchat, Twitter, IM/DM or text. Use the King’s English, so to speak.  Full sentences.  Proper grammar.  Punctuation and capital letters.  If your resume says professional but your email says “kid”, it’s likely the reader will think “amateur” and move on to another candidate.  Oh, and please check your spelling.

KISS (Keep it simple, searcher).  Just because you write well does not mean that more is better.  Email inboxes are always full.  It’s hard to read through them all. It’s harder when emails contain too much content, irrelevant content, or content that should have been edited for brevity.

If the reader finds your email awkward or too time-consuming, he or she isn’t likely to approach reading your next one with much enthusiasm.  And, although it’s only an email, it is a reflection of you and can be viewed as an example of your work product.  Be smart, stay simple.

Do. Not. Forward. Any. Confidential. Email.  Ever.  No matter how much you may want to share the job particulars you’ve just received with friends and loved ones, don’t do it. Once you hit send, you have lost all control over where that email may end up.

How embarrassing would it be to have it sent back to you from someone that was trusted by someone who was trusted by someone you trusted with a note that simply asks “What’s this all about”?  Especially if that person is the potential new employer.

Subject line. People frequently just throw something onto the subject line only so they don’t leave it blank.  This, however, sends the wrong message.  Just as an author carefully considers the title of a book, so should you craft an email subject line that grabs the attention of the reader and shows that you take your written correspondence seriously.  Leave it blank?  Why would anyone read an email that apparently wasn’t worthy of a subject line?

Is a reply to this email necessary?  How often have you replied to an email and then discovered another that was sent after the first?  Make sure you’re not sending a response that is no longer necessary due to intervening events or simply the passage of time.

Pause.  We’ve all hit send when we shouldn’t have, often to our detriment.  Any emails sent during the course of a job search should be without emotion and subject to careful consideration and review.

Failing to exercise caution in written communication may doom any chance of receiving an offer while also creating an online representation of you which may live in infamy on the Internet.  Before you hit that “Send” button, remember:

  • Read before you write.  Consider the entire communication you’re responding to, not just a phrase that jumps out at you or pushes your buttons.
  • There’s no body language in email.  Don’t take anything that sounds personal personally.  If you do, your response is likely to seem defensive and that won’t go over very well.

There are many aspects of a job search over which you have little, if any, control.  Your email communication is not one of them.  Avoiding email mistakes will make your job search more effective.