Is Your Email Etiquette Costing You the Job?

hey dena its michael, here is an updated  resume…thank you so much for taking time out of your day for helping me with my resume!

Would you respond to this email if it came from a complete stranger? No? An employer wouldn’t either.  This is an actual email I got about 3 years ago while working at a university from an alumnus who had graduated a year prior.  He called me because he was having a hard time finding a job in his field and wanted me to take a look at his resume to see if it needed improving.  A few days later that one line is what I received in my inbox with his resume attached.  My initial response was to delete the email because I was so put off by the lack of professionalism and not to mention he didn’t even capitalize my name!!  After a few hours of thinking about what I am called to do as a Career Consultant, I retrieved the email out of my trash folder and took a look at the resume he sent.  I responded to the email with my suggestions and explained to him the inappropriateness of his email. I told him that his lack of email etiquette is a reflection of his lack of professionalism and this could very well be contributing to his inability to get the job he desired. I explained to him that I initially deleted his email and that an employer would have surely deleted it without a second thought.  I reminded him to always be professional especially with those whom he does not have a close relationship with and is requesting help from.  This was the response to my email:

Good afternoon Ms. Bilbrew,

I am so glad for your help with my resume. Your time and effort is greatly appreciated!  Here is my updated resume with the following corrections that you advised. Hopefully I am getting somewhere with it. Thank you so much for your help with this.

Michael Jones

I am convinced that something happened in January 2014.  I think I missed the memo that said all email etiquette has gone out the window.  Did anybody else miss it? I mean there must have been a memo that went out because this is when I started receiving an abundance of emails with no subject, no greeting, and nothing written in the body.  I guess the memo said that the person whom you are sending the email to will just automatically know what you want them to do with the document you attached??!!  Also, I believe our daily messaging on social media and in text messages contributes to our lackluster email habits.  In case no has told you, communicating on social media is different from communicating with an employer.  Employers receive hundreds of emails each week from potential candidates and their time is very valuable.  They don’t have time to try to figure out what you meant to say and they most definitely do not have to give you a second chance like I did with the person I mentioned at the beginning of this article.

I get emails everyday from people requesting my help and keep in mind these emails are from people who want assistance with getting to the next step in their career.  If you are unprofessional with me, how unprofessional are you when communicating with potential employers?  Your email etiquette is a reflection of you and your professionalism.  Sometimes it may be the only thing a person has to go by if they do not know you personally and it should ALWAYS be professional.  Now of course, I’m not talking about the emails you send to your family and friends.  I’m talking about the emails you are sending to a potential employer to apply for a job, follow-up to an interview or networking event, or inquire as to your status in the hiring process.  Failure to effectively communicate in the emails you are sending could very well cost you the job!  Most of the time you will only get one shot and there are some important tips to keep in mind:

1) Be Professional

Be as professional in your emails as you would be if talking to them in person.

2) Include a Subject

Employers receive tons of email so you want to choose a subject that will get their attention and perhaps cause them to open your email first.  Examples of subject lines would be – “Assistant Manager Job Opening” or “Thank You – Assistant Manager Interview” or “Professional Networking Event Follow Up” or “Jane Doe Resume for Assistant Manager Position.”

3) Start with a  Greeting or Salutation

When you walk up to people in person, you normally speak first, right?  Well a greeting/salutation serves the same purpose in an email.  Something as simple as “Hello Mr. Smith,” or “Good morning Michelle,” will suffice. (Note:  Use their first name only if they have told you it’s okay or you know them well enough to do so.)

4) Get to the Point Quickly

Did I mention that employers are busy?  They don’t have all day to read an email with you beating around the bush.  You should be able to say what you want to say in a few sentences.

5) Give Them a Reason to Respond to You

This may take a little thought as you will need to be strategic.  If following up to an interview or networking event, you can always ask them a question about something discussed when you met.  If you are reaching out for the first time, mention what you are wanting from them without being too overbearing.

6) Type the Email Address Last

When sending an email to an employer, you will probably be nervous while you are making sure you are communicating effectively.  Be sure to type up your email and attach any documents FIRST and THEN type in the employer’s email address last.  This will avoid you inadvertently hitting the send button out of nervousness and your email wasn’t ready.  Oops!

Keep in mind that employers are using email more and more these days to communicate with candidates. They are more likely to respond to you via email to set up an interview or follow-up with you than call you on the phone.  So email etiquette is more important now than ever before.

Happy Emailing!!

 

 

 

 

12 Things You Should Remove from Your Resume NOW

1.  MULTIPLE PHONE NUMBERS AND EMAIL ADDRESSES

Employers are very busy and will not call you or email you at multiple places.  You should put the BEST phone number and email address to reach you.  They may only have 3 interview slots and may make an appointment with the first 3 candidates that they speak with.  When you are job hunting, you should check your voice messages and email on a regular basis so that you can respond to the employer in a timely manner.  Slothfulness in this area may very well cost you an interview.  By the way, the email address and voicemail greeting should be professional because it is part of your first impression.  You may  need to create a separate email address just for interacting with employers.

2. OBJECTIVE

Objective:  Seeking a position in a growing company where I may utilize my skills and have an opportunity for advancement.

Objective:  To work in a professional, challenging environment that allows me to best utilize strong negotiation and communication skills with opportunities for career advancement.

Either of these sound familiar?  I can guarantee you employers have seen it a thousand times.  Employers already know that’s your goal.  Objectives are old school and not necessary anymore so don’t waste space on your resume with this.  Start right away with your Key Skills/Core Competencies.  Use keywords directly related to the job description.

3. PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY PARAGRAPH

Professional Summary:  Results-oriented and versatile professional with proven success in managing complex projects, growing revenue, and resolving both interpersonal and operational issues. Keen understanding of sales and marketing concepts and applications. Adept in building collaborative relationships with professionals from diverse backgrounds and at all organizational levels.

Professional Summary:  An accomplished multi-tasked professional with an expertise in communications, interpersonal and organizational skills,  solution focused, and result oriented with a history of exceeding   objectives. A decade of successful experience in, customer service, mortgage and real estate support with organized strengths in account maintenance, review document control and record management functions.

That was A LOT to read, right?  Well, think about how employers feel.  After about the 12th resume it all starts to blend in.  They don’t want to read essays and long paragraphs and they certainly don’t want to “dig” through to figure out if you have what they are looking for. Make it easy for them and list your skills in bullets and short phrases.  You have 10 seconds to get their attention…..that’s how much time determines if your resume goes in the “look at again” pile or “do not look at again” pile.

4.  OVERUSED WORDS / PHRASES

Motivated, Team Player, Great Written Communication Skills, Multi-tasking, Interpersonal Skills, Organizational Skills, Results-oriented, Customer Service, Detail-oriented, Excellent Time Management Skills, Typing – 55 wpm, Flexible, People Person, Hard Worker, Reliable, Dependable, Dynamic

If you use any of these words, your resume will sound just like everyone else’s.  Your resume is your time to shine.  You should think about what makes you unique.  What is your brand?  What are your areas of expertise?  Consider who will be reading your resume and use buzzwords for your industry.

Now, if the job description itself mentions these words, then by all means, put them on your resume when applying to THAT particular job.  However, in general, leave these words off because they are not helping you and are doing more harm than good.

5.  “RESPONSIBLE FOR” and “DUTIES INCLUDE”

Again, these are overused.  You should be listing accomplishments for each job not simply what your daily duties are or what you are responsible for.  You are trying to impress the employer.  They want to know what you accomplished at your current/previous job that you can do for them. So, when listing your accomplishments, start with an action verb:

Initiated, Led, Managed, Supervised, Trained, Increased, Decreased, Organized, Implemented, Facilitated, Coached, Authored, Negotiated, Drafted, Coordinated, Recommended, Liaised, Communicated, Executed, Designed, Identified, Improved, Presented, Resolved, Recruited, Promoted

6. WORK EXPERIENCE THAT’S MORE THAN 10 YEARS AGO

Your resume is a snapshot of who you are so you shouldn’t try to list everything on there.  Employers want to know what you have done recently and know that you have kept up with the latest trends and technology.  Saying that you got “Employee of the Year” in 1998 only makes them think that you have not done anything else noteworthy recently, because if so you would have listed it on your resume.  Don’t “get married” to your resume.  In other words, don’t get into a long-term commitment with the things that are listed on there right now.  Actually, your resume is a work in progress until you retire.  (Sorry…but somebody had to tell you!)  You should constantly update it with the most recent accomplishments/skills/education and delete the things that are not so relevant anymore.

Think about your career over the last 10 years. What are your MOST IMPORTANT accomplishments?  That’s what you should list on the resume.  However, there are a few exceptions.  If you are applying for an Executive level position – Director of Operations or Vice President of Finance, they may be interested in more than 10 years just to see your total background.  Also, if you are going into education, you will probably use a Curriculm Vitae (CV) instead of a resume and this may cover more than 10 years.  In either of these situations still don’t get too carried away – accomplishments only!

7.  COMPANY WEBSITE AND DESCRIPTION

The resume is about YOU – not the company so don’t give attention to these things.  If an employer wants a description of the company, they can Google it.  I only suggest putting websites if it is a link to YOUR work.  If you did a website design or were the presenter at a conference, then list it or put the hyperlink on there.  Also, you don’t need the company address, supervisor’s name, supervisor’s phone number, number of hours you worked, or part-time/full-time status. All of these things belong on a job application.

8.  DATE YOU GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE IF MORE THAN 10 YEARS AGO

This will only age you because employers know that most people graduate from college at age 21 – 23, so they will just add up the years to figure out how old you are.  If they can figure out that you are 48, it may work against you if they are looking for someone younger who they can pay a lesser salary.  Plus, don’t date your education.  Technology and trends change so fast that whatever you learned 10+ years ago they are probably not doing now anyway…..or definitely not the same way when you learned it.

9.  HOBBIES / PERSONAL INTERESTS

Bowling, Hunting, Ballroom Dancing, Jogging, Reading, Traveling, etc. do not belong on a resume.  You can put them on your LinkedIn profile, personal portfolio, or discuss it over lunch when you get the job.  If you like doing community service as a hobby or personal interest, you should list it in a section entitled “Community Involvement” or “Professional Affiliations” so it gets the recognition it deserves.

10.  THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO DO AGAIN

Your resume should always look FORWARD to the job you are trying to get and not just simply list things you have done in the past.  You are letting an employer know your experience and expertise by what you put on your resume.  Don’t take up space talking about things you don’t want to do again.   Putting it on your resume may cause them to ask you about it in an interview.  If you don’t mention it, hopefully you won’t have to do it on the next job.

11.  REFERENCES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

This is also old school.  Just go ahead and list your 3 professional references in a separate document.

12. TIMES NEW ROMAN FONT

Everyone uses this on their resume since it is the default font when you open Microsoft Word.  Change it to something else that is legible and still professional looking to make your resume stand out.

The 8 Biggest Mistakes Job Seekers Make

1)  Not Catering Resume | Cover Letter to EACH Job

Yes, this is time consuming but very necessary.  If you have 1 resume and cover letter that you send out to 25 jobs you have just wasted your time.  Employers are telling you exactly what they are looking for in the job description, so use that as your “cheat sheet” and cater your resume/cover letter accordingly.  Plus employers want to feel like you want to work specifically for them.  The cover letter is where you can make a personal connection with the reader and show the research you have done on the company.  You should mention accomplishments on your resume that directly relate to the job description.

2) Not Networking and Making Connections

60% – 80% of jobs are never advertised so if you are not networking to access the “hidden market” you are missing out on a lot of opportunities.  You should network before you really need to and have job prospects before you need them.  You never know who you might meet now that may be able to help you in the near future.  You should also have business cards with you at all times so those you meet will be able to contact you in the future.  When you meet someone connect with them on LinkedIn within 24 hours while they still remember you.  Be sure to personalize your invitation to include when and how you met.

3) Sticking to Traditional Methods

The days are long gone where you can just see a job online and apply and wait for the phone to ring.  That alone does not guarantee you a call for an interview.  Just like you are looking on the internet for a job so is everyone else.  You have to think of non-traditional methods that will set you apart from other candidates.  Some of those methods would be asking for an informational interview or connecting with employers first on LinkedIn; then very subtly asking them for tips on breaking into your desired industry or asking them to review your resume.  You can also mail your resume to an employer using snail mail.  Everyone likes to receive something in the mail so that will get the employer’s attention.  Also, sending a video resume, which is  your 1 -2 minute commercial, is a definite way to make yourself stand out.  You can send it to an employer right along with your regular resume.  Creating a “brand” on social media is almost necessary these days no matter what your industry is.  If you position yourself correctly you can let the job/employer find YOU.

4) Disqualifying Yourself on Social Media

Now, while it is important to create a “brand” on social media, it is equally as important to do it the correct way.  93% of employers nationwide use social media for reasons to hire or not hire a candidate.  Because they receive so many applicants, employers will Google your name and look you up online for reasons to eliminate you.  Those reasons might be inappropriate pictures, profanity, discriminating remarks, or negative comments about job/supervisor.  I would suggest you Google your name once month to see what an employer will see when they look you up.  If there is something out there that may raise a red flag, delete it.  Having more “professional” things like a LinkedIn profile, professional Twitter account, blog or portfolio will counteract anything negative that may be out there.

5) Not Marketing Yourself Appropriately

Your resume, cover letter, online presence and professionalism in person are how you market yourself.  They should all match and you should be the same on paper, online and in person.  If someone didn’t know you and only had to use your resume, cover letter and online presence to “judge” you or initially get an idea of who you are, what would your image be?  Think about your top 3 areas of expertise.  Does your brand match up with those 3 areas?

6) Poor E-mail Etiquette and Written Communication

I recently had someone whom I’d never met send me an e-mail like this….

             hey dena its michael, here is an updated resume…thank you so much for taking time out of your day and helping me with my resume!

This was all the e-mail said….nothing more.  So, I explained to this person that if I had been an employer I would have deleted it without replying.  An employer is very busy and receives numerous job inquiries so time is very critical.  They are assessing you in various aspects and you never know what will cause a red flag.  You should never send an e-mail like you would send a text message.  If you’re not getting any responses to your e-mail, it could be your e-mail etiquette.  You always want to be very professional and use correct grammar.  Address the employer by Mr./Ms. with their last name until they tell you it’s okay to call them by their first name.  You can’t say you have great written communication skills on your resume and have a poorly written e-mail or cover letter.

7) Not Answering Interview Questions Adequately

There are several types of interview questions – traditional, behavioral, hypothetical, etc.  You should be prepared to answer all of them and you MUST practice. Even the most seasoned job seeker should practice answering questions in a manner that comes across natural and conveys what he/she can do for the employer.  That should be your focus – letting employers know what you can do for them and how you can solve a problem or fill a need that they have.

Traditional questions generally relate directly to the job duties and are asked to understand your background and experience better.  Behavioral questions are asked to see how you would handle certain situations.  Have SPECIFIC examples prepared for these types of questions.  Hypothetical questions are asked to see how well you think on your feet and perhaps to see what reaction the question will get.

For tips on answering the various types of questions, read my other blogs, view my videos on YouTube (www.youtube.com/denabilbrew) or look up the various types of interview questions on Google.

8) Not Following Up

It is very important that you follow up as that could be the difference in whether you get the job or not.  You want to follow up to an interview or networking event immediately – preferably within 24 hours.  Send them additional information about you – LinkedIn profile, letters of recommendation, portfolio, etc.  Thanking the employer for his/her time is a nice gesture and proper etiquette.

 

The Interview is not Over until You Follow Up

Oftentimes I am asked by job seekers what they should do immediately after an interview.  They are not sure why the follow up is so important, when and how to follow up,  and the age old question….”Should I send an e-mail, mail a thank you card or leave it with the receptionist on the way out the door?” 

Let’s tackle the first area….why the follow up is so important.  Say for instance, you are having an intimate gathering at your house and you post a notice on Facebook and 100 people respond saying they want to attend.  You know you can only accommodate a few people so you choose very carefully.  You finally narrow it down to the 3 guests you will extend a personal invitation to.  Those 3 people accept and come to the intimate gathering at different times.  You speak with each of them in great detail for an hour, give them a tour of your home and feel like you have gotten to know each of them a little better.   Over the next day or 2 you begin to wonder if your guests enjoyed themselves and had a good time in your home.  You check your mailbox and to your surprise you have received a nice thank you card from 1 of the guests saying they had a great time and were really appreciative of your invite.  You didn’t hear anything from the other 2 so you are now really wondering if they had a good time or if you should have even invited them in the first place.

It is the same way with the job interview.  The employer posts a job and 100+ people submit their resume.  The employer narrows it down to the top 3 candidates to bring to his office (his “home”).  During the interview he spends time going into detail about the company and job opening and perhaps gives candidates a tour of the facilities.  Afterwards, he is trying to decide who would be the best fit for his already established team.  He comes in the next morning and finds an e-mail from you thanking him for taking the time to interview you. You also attach other information to help him understand your background and experience a little better.  He heard nothing from the other 2 candidates.  Who do you think will stand out in his mind when he goes to make the hiring decision? Exactly! That’s why it is so important…..plus it’s just  nice to be nice.  Employers say that they appreciate thank you letters and it can make the difference as to whether they hire a candidate or not.  If there are 2 candidates that are neck and neck and the hiring manager needs to make a decision between the 2, he is more likely to lean towards the one that sent a thank you.

The second area…..when and how to follow up.  You should definitely follow up with an employer right away.  You want to do it while they still remember you and you have an opportunity to make a final impression on them.   Now, whether you e-mail or use snail mail or give a thank card to the receptionist on your way out the door, I don’t think it really matters.   All of these are acceptable methods and serve the same purpose.  The ultimate objective is to thank them BEFORE they make their hiring decision.  Obviously, giving a thank you card to the receptionist or sending an e-mail later that evening when you get home guarantees an immediate effect.  But having them receive a card in the mail from you is also a nice touch because we all like to receive something in the mail.  If you do decide to go with a thank you card, make sure it is professional and standard (nothing pink with flowers and polka dots).  It should be bare on the inside or have minimal words.  (Tip:  If you don’t have good penmanship, get someone else to write inside the card for you!)

Here is an example of a thank you sent as an e-mail:

Dear Mr./Ms. (last name):

It was a pleasure meeting you today.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to visit (company name) and interview for the _________________ position.  I was especially interested to learn that your company (mention something specific discussed in the interview).

I have included my LinkedIn profile/portfolio/website/blog* so you can get a more in-depth look at my skills and background.  I am excited about the possibility of becoming a member of your team.  If you need any further information, you may contact me at (214) 555-5555.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.  Thanks again!

Sincerely,

Jane Doe

* Pick just one to include in the thank you letter.