Is Email Killing Your Job Prospects?

Email is a wonderful creation that has sped up communications (and partially doomed the USPS) allowing individuals to stay in better contact.  However, many of us inadvertently hurt our job search with common email mistakes.  Many of the tips below do not apply to when you shoot off a note to a friend, but when your intended audience is a potential employer, watch for this common pitfalls.

  1. Email Account/Address: Your choice of email account and address can say much to a potential employer.  Using your current work email address says that you don’t mind using company time and resources to find another job…and that you will do the same to them if hired!  Having an unprofessional email address (VegasRoller@gmail.com, or BobnSherry4ever@yahoo.com) can also be off-putting to a potential employer.  Funny email addresses can cast doubts to your maturity and professionalism.  Shared accounts are off-putting as hiring managers can be concerned about who may be reading the sensitive email.  Finally, having an old/outdated email service can indicate that you don’t keep up with technology.  So drop “Kevin12864@compuserv.com” for a more professional, up-to-date email address.   (Tip: dedicate an email account just for your job search so as not to miss any important messages in between your personal ones)
  2. Funky Graphics/Fonts:  I remember receiving an email that had a background image, border, and other bells and whistles – it looked cool, in 2002.  Then I realized what a pain it was when the font got messed up when I tried to view it on other devices, and how the background color messed with my email settings.  Eliminate all the bells and whistles and choose a basic, traditional font (Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, etc.) on a plain background.  I am not sure who thinks it is a good idea to send an email to your future boss that looks like an eight year old hand-wrote the message in crayon?
  3. Signatures:  Another guilty pleasure – having a few lines at the bottom of an email that provides a spiritual message, inspirational quote, or the 14 ways a user can connect with you through various social media outlets.  Be sure your signature sends the right image to potential employers and cannot offend with inappropriate topics (Office Etiquette: Keep Politics Out)
  4. Content: This is the biggest mistake, and we are all guilty, trying to communicate too much in an email.  This could mean that the email is too long (remember, many individuals will be reading your email on a mobile device) or the topic is not appropriate for email.  Most conversations should take place face-to-face or over the phone.  Negotiating your salary, pick up the phone.  Need to deliver bad news, head down the hallway and talk face-to-face.  Want to send a quick note of appreciation, email is fine.  Be sure the email is well written (grammar rules apply whether you write on paper or online), concise, and appropriate for electronic medium.
A good litmus test is for your email is to think how you would react if the roles were reversed and you were receiving the correspondence.  With electronic correspondence, humor, sarcasm, intonation, etc. are usually lost on the reader.  And if you are in doubt about the reaction of the recipient of your email, I believe you already have your answer of what you should do.

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About Kevin Monahan

I have 10+ years experience in coaching clients in their career management and career change efforts. Personal career consulting services combined with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituents.
This entry was posted in Application, Branding, Career Management, Communications, Job Search, Networking, online and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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