As said in the previous article, as well as all around the web, your image is critical. Promoting your image, or personal brand, is one thing, controlling it is another one. My previous article: Clean up the mess! gave some advices regarding search engine data management and data cleaning.
But your image is not only limited to your online self, it also comes from your manners, or the way you get in touch with people. And this is even more important when, you are seeking employment. Emailing a potential employer is totally different from emailing a friend. So, where are your manners?
This post will close the ‘out-of-the-social-media-subject’ section. Let’s start with a quick role play: you are a candidate looking for an internship or a job, and in front of you is sitting a recruiter. What do you do? Let me guess: you walk up to this person and say something like “Hello Madam, my name is John Doe, I know you are looking for an intern in Finance and I would like to apply. Here are my résumé and cover letter. Feel free to call me back if you are interested in my profile”. So far, so obvious. Does it seem obvious to you as well?
Ok, now do the same with email applications: what do you write up? We are not talking about your résumé or your cover letter anymore. We are talking about your “hello, please hire me” message. I will speak from personal experience here. I posted three different internship offers these past few weeks, and I received (and still receive) emails of candidates seeking an internship. Do I always receive the nice kind of speech wrote down above? I wished!
- Empty messages with attachments. No name, no signature, no nothing.
- Nearly empty: “Please find attached my résumé and cover letter”.
- Question marks: no reference to which internship the candidate apply for
- Mass emailing: “Dear Mrs., Sir, blablabla”
The recruiter reply is most of the time very simple: hit trash!
The message that carries your résumés and cover letter is as important as your application tools. You may have spent some valuable time working on your résumé and cover letter. Would you take the risk to destroy it all with a poorly thought application email?
Here are some essentials:
1) Know who you apply to. Who are you sending the application to? If you have a name or a title, address the message to that person: “Dear Mrs Watson”, “Dear Madam” or “Dear Marketing manager”. But please do not create the recruiter gender, name or title. It is quite annoying to receive an email (and cover letter) starting with “Dear Human Resources Director” or “Dear Sir” when you are the Marketing manager (and a woman!) but still the one recruiting. If you do not know who the ‘reader’ will be, keep it simple. “Good morning” or “Hello” is good enough!
Tip: if you are asked to send your email to email@example.com without specifics, we can assume that the addressee’s name is Florence Poirel. It’s a wild guess, but…
2) Clearly say which position you seek. Not all job offers have references or automatic application processes. Therefore, state the position right away: “I am applying for the position of marketing assistant”. I have current offers in our Finance, Marketing and IT departments. I can assure you that résumés and cover letters do not always help me define which internship the candidate seeks.
3) Add you value proposition. This value proposition is the answer to the question: “why should we hire you?” It is the introduction to your cover letter. It has to be short but straightforward. For instance: “I am completing a master degree in strategic management and have accomplished several internships as strategic planning assistant for such and such companies”. The recruiter can see you have prior experiences and this is good enough at this point.
4) Be nice! Recruiters are the ones offering the positions. Candidates got that, right? Candidates could at least be agreeable! Politeness is essential also in your emails. Don’t think you cannot end up our email with a “have a nice day!”. This is not your cover letter, no need to stay too formal.
5) Add your most valuable links. As we talked in the last article, recruiters will search your name on line. Keep the advantage by adding your key links below your name in your email signature. You can be sure that the recruiter will click on them. The objective is to send the recruiter to a more complete profile, displaying positive elements. If you smartly managed your web optimization, this should prevent you from any bad surprises.
Remember that the first email is your introduction: this is the first time you get in touch with the recruiter. Be concise, smart and polite! Even if you are not selected for the position, you would at least make a good first impression. You never know what the reader will do with your email: keep it in case another position arise? Forward it to another recruiter? Make sure people remember you for your good manners!