Most employers and job seekers are now connecting and communicating primarily online. Whether formally job searching or expanding your professional network, professional communication is extremely important.
You may find yourself asking:
- What should I write?
- How should I say it?
- How much should I write?
- When should I send it?
- When should I follow up?
What should I write?
Be Clear. This depends on the purpose of your outreach. What are you hoping to gain? In order to make that happen, what does the recipient of your email need in order to help you? Be straightforward and clear, and attach any helpful supporting documents, like a resume, if appropriate. When scheduling a discussion or interview, provide a few specific dates and time windows, ideally within normal business hours. When asking for an informational interview, schedule at their convenience.
How should I say it?
Be Polite. Time is valuable. Thanking people for their time and effort goes a long way.
Be Real. Nobody likes canned emails. Be professional but genuine, formal yet approachable. Be the person you would want to hear from. Think about the last time you spoke with this person. Did they mention something noteworthy? Upcoming travel, something you share in common, or something interesting about their day? Briefly mentioning these in a way that feels like a personal connection also highlights your listening skills.
|"Hey X. Thanks for my interview. I am waiting for next steps. This job feels perfect for me. Best regards!"||"Hello X. Thank you for your time this morning. I really enjoyed my interview. I was particularly energized by my conversation with X and learning about her organization restructuring project. I also hope that you have a fulfilling company volunteer day tomorrow. Community focus is something that differentiates Company Z and I would be grateful to contribute my energy to these initiatives. Company Z remains my top choice; I look forward to next steps!"|
How much should I write?
Be Concise. Think about the volume of emails you recieve in a day. Most employers experience the same volume, likely more. Keep your emails short and to the point.
|"Thank you so much for the invitation to interview! I was waiting for this email! I'm available on Tuesday, but only from 2-5pm because I have class all morning and then I have an on-campus job that I need to get back for at 5:30. And I have to take the train, so I might be kinda late."||"Thank you so much for the interview invitation - I am thrilled at this news! I'm available next Tuesday, 11/8 from 2-5pm. If my timing does not align, I am happy to look at alternate times as this interview is a top priority."|
When should I send it?
Be Timely. There is simply no excuse for a delayed response, call or thank you note - especially if someone is trying to schedule you. Aim to respond within 24 hours, ideally much sooner. This also applies to the Thank You email that you send after an interview.
When should I follow up?
Be patient yet persistent, but not pushy. Not hearing back from companies you applied to? Did an email exchange with a recruiter end abruptly? Following up can demonstrate persistence and motivation. However, follow-ups can often come across as pushy or annoying if too anxious or improperly timed. Remember, resources like LinkedIn make following up much easier in those instances when no contact information is listed.