Career Tip of the Month

Use Proper Email Etiquette When Searching for a Job

Applying to jobs through email has become a standard practice for anyone looking for a job today. Presenting a professional email image is just as important as submitting a polished resume because it contributes to that all important first impression that the employer is forming of you as a potential job candidate.

Use a Professional Email Address. The first step to email etiquette is to have a professional email address. No one will take you seriously if your email address is Your email address should be simple and professional ( or If you need to, you can create a separate, professional, free email account on servers such as Gmail or Yahoo.

Send Your Email to a Specific Person. When emailing a company to apply for a job, or to inquire about openings, try to send your email to a specific person. You'll find that you get more responses this way. Check the company's website for the name of the Human Resources Manager. If you don't have a specific name, address your email to "Dear Hiring Manager".

Use the Subject Field to Indicate Content and Purpose. Never leave a subject line blank because your email could be sent straight to a spam folder. Instead, use a clear, direct subject line. A good example is to write the job title or your name (Dental Assistant or Mary Smith Resume).

Use a Professional Salutation. Don't use causal expressions like, "Hey" or "Hi". Always begin your email with a professional salutation such as "Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. Last Name".

The Body of the Email Should Resemble a Short Cover Letter. These are commonly called e-cover letters. The body of your email should explain who you are and why you would be a good candidate for the position. Don't forget to include what position you are applying for (remember that there may be more than one opening). Conclude your email with your contact information to make it easy for the employer to reach out to you. A good layout for an email signature includes: First name, last name, home phone number, cell phone number and email address.

Keep Messages Brief and to the Point. Emails that get to the point are much more effective than long, wordy emails. Employers are busy people and long emails, like long resumes, will probably not be read. A good rule of thumb is to keep your email to once screen length and only concentrate on one subject per message whenever possible.

Remember That Tone Can't be Heard in an Email. Have you ever attempted humor or sarcasm in an email, only to have the recipient take it the wrong way? Email communication can't convey the nuances of verbal communication. In an attempt to infer tone of voice, some people use emoticons, but these are inappropriate in the job search process. Instead, use word choice and sentence structure to create a professional, yet cordial email. Contractions can add a friendly tone, but take care not to avoid appearing unprofessional.

Proofread Your Email. Your email message reflects your professionalism, so traditional spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules apply. Avoid text messaging lingo (OMG) or using abbreviations. Use sentence case. USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE SHOUTING and using all lowercase letters appears lazy (and is actually ungrammatical if you write "i" for "I"). Proofread and double proofread your email for any grammatical errors, punctuation errors, typos, or misspellings (such as "you're" for "your"). Depending on the position you are applying for, poor grammar can really hurt your chances of getting a job because it portrays you as a sloppy, careless person who lacks attention to detail. You may want to first send the email to yourself to make sure everything looks good before sending it to an employer.

Attach Your Resume, Don't Cut & Paste. When sending a resume via email, always ATTACH your resume as a WORD or PDF file. Not all email systems are compatible with each other and pasting your resume into the body of your email may create havoc with your formatting on the recipient's end. When sending an attachment, use a professional filename ("Smith Resume" not "Good resume1")

Respond in a Timely Manner. If you are going to correspond with an employer by email, check your message box frequently for responses. When you do receive a response, respond promptly. Although it's not necessary to respond instantaneously (that just makes you appear desperate) you should try to respond within 1-2 hours.