Do’s and Don’ts when Contacting Employers

The way we represent ourselves in online correspondences can say a lot about the people and employees we are or may be in the future. It’s often easier to convey certain messages by communicating in person, but mastering how to communicate electronically is critical in the professional world. Whether you are contacting a potential or current employer, DO follow these three main guidelines:

Use a formal tone.

Format with an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Represent yourself well.

Using a formal tone is crucial in showcasing your professionalism. Contact with an employer is of a business nature and should be treated as so. It is always best to err on the side of formality than to set a poor first impression by being too casual. To begin, your subject line should convey the main idea of your message. Two to six words are recommended, as one-word explanations are not descriptive. You want to grab the recipient’s attention to ensure they will read your message. Next, use a formal greeting, such as “Dear,” using the employers last name and proper prefix, such as “Dr. Brown” or “Mrs. Smith.” After your initial email, follow the lead of the employer in their response. If they addressed you with “Hi _____” and signed their message with “Kevin,” then your next greeting should be “Hi Kevin.”

One significant factor to consider when it comes to tone is the syntax you use. According to Career Cast, nearly 50 percent of all emails imply an unintended tone. Communication online can be easily misunderstood, so diction is incredibly important to focus on. To avoid misinterpretation, use words and phrases that are easily understood. For example, instead of  writing “Be ready for Thursday,” you can use “Please bring the sales report to Thursday’s meeting.” Specificity is key! You do not want to leave anything up for interpretation. Also, do not use language that is only common to your way of speaking such as college slang. Finally, avoid long and complex wording, as this gives the reader a higher chance of misunderstanding.

Examples of different greetings to use. Graphic provided by The Balance Careers

With the help of a beginning, middle, and end format, your emails will have the structure needed to inform and connect with your recipient. Your introduction should include a quick greeting, showing you are personable. “I hope your job search is going well!” is an example of a great preface for a friendly conversation. Although it seems excessive, it really does make a difference in their view of you. “It was great meeting you at Business Horizons” is also an example of a charismatic statement, which simultaneously reminds the reader of who you are. Another introduction often used is a statement about why you are reaching out, such as “I am contacting you about your job application.” Regardless, your introduction sets the premise for the entire string of communication. You want to show you are both affable and proactive in your professional career!

The body of your correspondence contains the most important content. Here, you want to give your reader the information they will need to complete the task you are asking of them, an explanation of what you are informing them of, or any other data needed to accomplish the goal of your message. It is important to avoid rambling, while also ensuring all of the content needed for the email is present.  You do not want the reader to wonder what the purpose of your email is, but you do not want them to stop reading halfway through your message simply because it’s too long. Include only what is necessary!

To conclude, provide action steps, a salutation, and your full name. Actions steps can include a date and time to meet, a statement of your excitement to hear back from your reader, a proposition, or anything else to advance towards the goal of your correspondence. Examples of a salutation are “Best regards,” “Thank you,” “Sincerely,” or any other polite closing. Follow the salutation with your full name, avoiding any nicknames. You also want to include an electronic signature with your contact information. Remember, your conclusion is the last opportunity to show the recipient of your efforts!

Seven pointers to remember. Graphic provided by Cupcakes and Cashmere.