CorrespondenceContacting potential employers and referral sources is instrumental. Knowing what to do and doing it well enhances your chances to get the desired results from your search.

Initiating Contact

  • Before you initiate correspondence of any kind, it is important to know exactly what you’re hoping to gain.
  • Just as important is knowing with whom you’re corresponding.
  • Asking about their specific position and responsibilities showcases your interest and curiosity; asking who they are and what they do showcases your laziness.
  • The Introductory Email
    • An introductory email serves to tell someone you are an interested person who wants to learn more.
    • “Hello. I am interested in what you do. This is why I am interested. Can you help me learn more? Thank you.”
    • Although this is not as formal as a cover letter, it still needs to be polite and in formal English. No slang and no abbreviations.
    • Try and get their attention. Try and get a commitment. Always say thank you.
  • Cover Letters
    • A cover letter is an introduction and a teaser. It is not a restatement of your resume.
    • “I am me. I am interested in your company. I have skills and attributes I believe you value. You should meet me. Thank you.”
    • A cover letter should not elaborately chronicle all of your relevant experience. It should provide just enough information to make you an intriguing candidate.
    • The goal with a cover letter is to get you an interview – and that is where you can explain details and specifics that make you such a qualified candidate.
    • If your cover letter is longer than the Gettysburg Address (272 words), it better be good.

The Cover Letter

  • A cover letter is an introduction and a teaser. It is not a restatement of your resume.
  • “I am me. I am interested in your company. I have skills and attributes I believe you value. You should meet me. Thank you.”
  • A cover letter should not elaborately chronicle all of your relevant experience. It should provide just enough information to make you an intriguing candidate.
  • The goal with a cover letter is to get you an interview – and that is where you can explain details and specifics that make you such a qualified candidate.
  • If your cover letter is longer than the Gettysburg Address (272 words), it better be good.

Using the Appropriate Medium

  • The Email vs. The Phone Call
    • Sometimes it is hard to know what form of correspondence to employ (pun intended)
    • At this point, snail mail feels a bit dated, and will also just take longer. This leaves you with the phone or email.
    • Think about which might best play to your strengths.
    • Think about where you are most reachable.
    • Often times, the company culture will help determine which is most appropriate, so be sure and do your homework.
    • Don’t be afraid to use both – perhaps you might follow-up an introductory email with a phone call.
  • Customizing Correspondence
    • There are pros and pitfalls of customizing your correspondence
    • Of course you shouldn’t have a template for introductions, follow-up emails, and anything that requires a personal and individualized note. But resumes and certain cover letters are more of a gray area.
    • A cover letter should certainly include some detail about the specific position and the company to which you are applying, but this information could probably fit into a broader template.
    • If a template style is the route you choose to take, be absolutely sure that you check your work. Having written the wrong name, wrong company, or wrong job will likely be a deal breaker.
    • A customized resume can help you deliver a targeted message for a specific opportunity, but this can also be a time consuming and unnecessary process.
    • Use your head: if you’ve happened upon a huge opportunity, taking some time to customize your correspondence and really drive home your message could be well worth the effort. But if time is of the essence, sending in your “one size fits most” resume might be the way to go.

The Importance of Follow-up

  • The first follow-up should be a thank you with some simple take-aways
  • Reference things you learned, things you discussed, or things that stood out. This will lay the foundation for continued correspondence.
  • Keep it brief. No one ever wants to read a lengthy email.
  • It is important to follow-up and be direct, but be aware of the line between expressing continued interest and badgering.

Keeping Yourself on Track

  • In the midst of a job search, you’ll likely be simultaneously communicating with many parties, so it’s crucial to keep track of all your correspondence.
  • Adopt a system to manage your contacts and calendar and be religious about using it and updating it.
  • Any system is better than no system. It will help you avoid stress and confusion so you can focus on what’s actually important.