Monday, April 21, 2014

On interviewing for a job: Contacting a company in email

I wrote in an earlier post about the research you should do before interviewing with a company.  You should do that research not only before your interview but also before your initial contact with a company.  When that contact comes through email, as it very frequently does today, you have a great opportunity to make a big impression on the company.  Whether that impression is good or bad depends on how you handle your message. 

For starters, make sure all your text is clear, to the point, grammatically correct, and free of spelling errors.  Note I said "all your text".  That's because you're writing not just a message body but also possibly a cover-letter attachment, a resume, and a Subject line.  I have seen many an error on the Subject line, and those errors are sure to leave exactly the impression you don't want.

You can avoid many of these errors through a simple trick:  compose the entire message, including the Subject line, in Word, and turn on its grammar and spelling checkers.  Those tools are far from perfect, but they will at least stop a lot of the most obvious errors. 

You should make sure you customize the content of everything you send to the particular application you're making.  Yes, that is a lot of work, but the whole process takes effort, so get over it and do the work.  Nothing will make you look like someone who doesn't give a damn quite as much as a message that refers to a job from another company's ad--or even that other company; yes, I have received such messages. 

Instead, state clearly and in brief why you want this particular job at this particular company, and then why you think you'd be great at it.  If you're a hard worker committed to learning and improving, say so.  You might think everyone is and everyone would say so, but you'd be wrong on both counts. 

I'm not going to spend time going into resumes, because you can easily find plenty of information on how to compose them, except to make these two points:  list your experience in reverse chronological order, from most recent job to first, and keep it short.  I've been working full-time for decades, and I've had a lot of jobs, and my default resume fits on one page. 

If everything I've said sounds to you like a basic tidbit that everyone should know, I agree.  I'm always amazed, though, at how many first email messages fail to obey these most basic guidelines--and at how many job opportunities those errors cost people.

No comments:


Blog Archive