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Email Etiquette

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In our contemporary, technology-savvy workplace, it is almost impossible to avoid emailing cover letters and resumes to potential employers; in fact, email is usually the initial means of communication between employers and their job candidates. A series of questions may cross a person's mind when he or she is about to send a submission via email. Because email is still such a young method of communication, no definite standards have been set for emailing cover letters and resumes. However, as more and more employers find examples of what they do not want to see, more authoritative guidelines are being formed.

When employers open your email message, the words that pop up on the screen make your first impression, which cannot be taken back in most cases. You should take an email message to a potential employer as seriously as you do your cover letter. Many people fail to realize that using email does not give them an excuse to abbreviate, misspell, and leave out proper punctuation; we are not on AOL Instant Messenger, people! In the business world, yes, some colleagues and associates who already do business with one another occasionally break the rules, but for an individual seeking employment, this should not even be an issue. Assuming that you are exempt from using proper grammar and punctuation only gives employers reason to delete your messages before they even view your resume. It is attention to detail that will set you apart from the crowd, so do not let something so elementary shut you out of the race in the first round.

Remember to stick with a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial, and always keep the font black and the background of the email plain white. Would you really want to send a prominent business professional or one of his or her associates an email with kittens and puppies all over its background? Yes, it is nice to give your work a personal touch, but present that within the text of your cover letter or save it for the interview. Besides, what if the employer hates kittens and puppies? It sounds crazy, but it is possible. The key is to never give an employer reason to "delete" you. Portray a neutral and professional demeanor, just as you would in a regular cover letter.

Also—and this one is a killer—do not send your email from a wacky personal email address like or Believe it or not, this usually does not even faze a lot of applicants, but it is the tackiest mistake to make. It only takes a few minutes to create a professional email account that can be designated for work-related email. Choose an email address including either your name or a variation of it. If your name is in your email address, those with whom you correspond will not have any trouble locating your messages in their daily collections. This will not only help you and your associates to stay more organized, but it will also keep your personal life separate from your career.

Along with a professional email address, make sure that, if you list a phone number on your resume, you have a professional voicemail message. If potential employers decide to call you directly, which they typically do if they decide to meet or hire you, do not make them sit through three minutes of "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson or a witty explanation as to why you cannot get to your phone. Instead, direct them to a number with a simple, concise voicemail message that, preferably, includes your name or number.

Probably the most frequently contemplated decision when preparing to send a submission via email is whether or not to attach. When virus protection was less advanced than it is today, employers were wary of opening attachments; however, these days the majority of employers will open them. This is a huge advantage for job seekers because they no longer have to convert their beautifully crafted documents into awkward eyesores crammed into little text boxes. Some employers still ask that cover letters and resumes be sent in the texts of emails, so, above all, respect whatever methods and formats employers ask you to use in their job postings.

Many applicants prefer to leave a brief note in the text box and attach both the cover letter and resume, while others opt to copy and paste their cover letters into the texts of their emails and only attach their resumes; either one of the two options works, although if you choose to leave a brief note, make sure that you keep it short and sweet. The message should be succinct, only a couple of sentences long. Employers do not want to read a page-long email that derails into a rant about high gas prices, forcing them to search for your message's original train of thought. The purpose of a cover letter is to entice the reader to look at your resume. If you send a short message to be read before your cover letter, it must quickly convince the potential employer to open the attachment with your cover letter.

In the subject line of your email, be careful not to label your message "Urgent" or "RE:" because doing so may send your submission to the recipient's junk mail folder, or he or she may overlook it, assuming it concerns something else. Your subject line should be straightforward, stating the position name or another keyword that would help someone to identify the purpose of the email. Do not get too creative or elaborate when titling an email for an employer; it will work against you if the title comes off as confusing.

Having the option to email documents to employers can be advantageous for job seekers because it makes it possible to have cover letters and resumes in employers' inboxes almost instantaneously. Take the time to make sure that any messages sent, as well as your cover letter and resume, are impeccable and portray a professional demeanor that will clearly come through to someone who has never met you.
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