Email is generally the primary method of communication for job searching and networking, and you can stand out by having one of the better-written ones. That isn’t hard, because inboxes are filled with poorly written emails.
Here’s how to write a good email when searching for a job.
1. “The Law of Threes”
Say no more than 3 things in your email, then close it with your commitment to a next step. This will not only prevent you from rambling, but it will help the recipient to grasp your main points quickly.
2. Send your email to yourself first
There is no better way to wear the shoes of your recipient than to send the email to yourself first. Open it, read it aloud to catch mistakes, and print it to see how it looks as a paper document. I guarantee you WILL find things to edit.
3. Count the number of times you use variations of “I” versus “you”
Remember, this job search is not about you. This communication, whether it is an application, a networking email, or a follow-up, is all about them and how you believe you are the best candidate and employee for them.
4. Write in a word processing program, then copy to email
Write your business letter in Microsoft Word (or another word processing program) then copy and paste that letter into your email body. This accomplishes two things: it will look nicer and you can save a copy of your letter in your documents folder.
5. Proofread, proofread, and proofread again
Check for proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and typing errors. All recruiters and hiring managers continue to be amazed at the number of typos, missing commas, and run-on sentences. How should you proofread?
a. Read the email to yourself out loud.
b. Send it to a friend or family member to proof for you.
c. Read it from the bottom up.
d. Correct all words and phrases underlined by the red, blue, and green squiggles that many word processing programs generate for you.
6. When following up, attach the old message(s)
When I receive a follow-up to a job inquiry, I often get a fresh email from the candidate. “Ms. Manciagli, I sent you my résumé two weeks ago and I am writing to follow up.” Résumé? Always make it easy for the recipient to engage! Send your follow-up as a forward of the previous email AND reattach any previously submitted attachments, such as your cover letter and résumé.
7. Bullet points are king
Very few people like to pore through long, wordy emails. In the main body of your email, use bullets to outline your key points. The opening and closing sentences should be full sentences, but the core can be bullet points.
Remember to take your time, proof your messages well, and always err on the formal side.