Your first approach to an employer is usually by email, unless the employer is using application tracking software, so this initial written pitch had better be good. It is your ‘foot in the door’, and you only get one chance.
HR professionals and hiring managers are often besieged by emails, so those that fail to grab their attention immediately are likely to be ignored. Here are some do’s and don’ts that will help ensure yours gets a response.
Do: Write a great subject line. Many emails are read on smartphones or Blackberries, which may show only about 30 characters in the subject line, so the message must be as tightly conveyed as possible.
Include the word ‘application’, plus your name, the job title and any vacancy ID code, eg, ‘Linda Whitney, application: account manager (33441)’. Add qualifications if the vacancy specifies them, eg, ‘Peter Davies BSc: application, pharmacist (4425)’. If you can market yourself briefly, do it, eg, ‘Application: Mary Evans, experienced occupational therapist, vacancy 4431′.
Don’t: be vague. Hirers search their inboxes looking for individual names, roles or job ID numbers so a subject line that says just ‘job application’ or ‘response to advertisement’ risks not being found.
Do: include the name of any mutual contact that referred you for the position. Put it in the subject line, eg: Janice Smith referral: Peter Golightly for data analyst job (4432).
Do: Address the hirer respectfully. Start with ‘Dear’, then the name of the person who is mentioned in the vacancy (if available). If there is no name given, use ‘Dear Sir or Madam’.
Don’t: Start with ‘Hi’ or ‘Hey’. This is not an email to a friend and don’t make the mistake of being over-familiar.
Do: State the basics in line one, e.g. ‘Please find enclosed my application for the job of deputy manager, operations.’ If you have been referred start by saying, ‘Jennifer James, your former colleague at Company Name recommended I contact you about the vacancy for a…’
Do: Market yourself. In line or paragraph two, state briefly why you are a good match for the vacancy. Note that this is not stating why you want the job – instead it should be about why the employer should want you.
Say, for instance: ‘I have had three years experience in operations and recently completed a Diploma in Operations Management so I think I can help Name Of Employer establish your new department.’ If you are in a sector where worth is judged by income generation, then mention how much money you have generated, e.g., ‘I am an experienced business developer having brought in £150,000 of new business in the last 18 months.’
Don’t: Regurgitate your whole CV, talk about how you think it is time to move up the career ladder (remember it’s about how you can benefit them), or gush emptily about how much you love their company – it sounds insincere.
Do: Add a third line that is a call to action and gives your contact details, eg, ‘To discuss how we might work together please call me on…’ Give your mobile as well as a landline number.
Do: Sign off politely, using ‘Yours sincerely’.
Don’t: send your email off immediately. First check for spelling and grammar errors and then return to the job ad to see if you have addressed the key points that the employer is looking for.
Do: Attach your CV, labelled with your first and surname and the term ‘CV’.
Don’t: Send it as a Word or Excel file as these can be distorted by differing versions of Office. Avoid other formats such as HTML, BMP, EPS or ZIP files. If you are applying for a creative or IT job and need to send links to your work such as videos or websites include links in the main body of the email.
Do: Send it as a PDF, as most systems can open these.
Making a speculative application? Most of the same guidelines apply but first research the right person to approach (if necessary call the company and ask). Sending emails to general mail-boxes such as info@… can be doomed to failure.
The first line of your email should explain why you are making the on-spec application, for example, ‘I have read in the news that you are opening a new branch close to my home and recruiting new staff, so I am sending my CV as my experience as an operations manager may be useful to you.’