Email Etiquette and the Job Search

Just finishing with a client who loves his new resume. He’s thrilled with my work and says he’ll tell everyone he knows – which is a surprise to me because honestly I started out thinking he was unhappy with my service.

When I first sent his resume, his response was:

Thanks for the resume. Please make the following changes:

He then listed his suggested changes, none of which were major, but the tone of his opening sentence made me think he was less that thrilled.

Anyway, after several rounds of changes, and a couple more brusque emails, he surprised me with his glowing ‘thank you’ email. Phew!

But my point is this: email is a tough communication medium. You can’t assume people know your intent or can read your mood. During a job search, you must be very careful to make sure that your message is communicated just as you intended. The same applies even within your current job – when you write to people who don’t know you personally, how do you sound?

I remember starting at a new job back in the early days of email, and learning that my new staff were a little scared of me based on the way my emails sounded. Because I launched right into my message and used short direct sentences, they thought I was angry. We cleared it up and I changed my style, but I was only able to do that because my Payroll Manager had the courage to tell me how I sounded.

If you’re not sure how your emails sound, ask someone you trust to review the important ones before sending. It doesn’t matter that I thought my client was less than thrilled, but if he used the same tone in a job search, it could cause him problems.

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