Job Search Netiquette

This article reprinted with permission by the Financial Management Network.


E-mail is by far the preferred means of communication for millions of professionals worldwide. For busy executives, it can save valuable time, particularly when seeking a new position. Although it is often considered an informal medium of communication, using e-mail when contacting prospective employers can work to your advantage if you follow the rules of job search “Netiquette.”

Check your approach. Once you’ve determined that a company will accept resumes via e-mail, check to see if it has guidelines for electronic submission. You can easily obtain this information through the company’s web site or human resources department.

Include keyword search phrases. Listing words or phrases that link to job responsibilities — such as project management, IPO, regulatory reporting, e-commerce, financial systems conversion — will increase the chances that your resume will be selected during the search phase. Keywords listed at the top of the resume should be consistently used throughout the resume to increase the number of “hits.” Because knowledge of technology is so critical today, summarize specific hardware and software applications with which you are familiar.

Showcase your professionalism. Use business style for any material that you submit, even e-mail messages. You may be interacting electronically with a variety of people during the hiring process, and each communication will affect the way you are perceived. Carefully proofread your e-mail for spelling and grammatical errors as you would any hard copy. It’s not unusual in some business correspondence to use capital letters for emphasis. In the online world, however, use of all caps suggests to the reader that you’re shouting! Use capitals sparingly or not at all.

Make the subject heading count. Many business professionals receive a hundred or more e-mails a day. Using a non-descriptive subject heading encourages the recipient to file it for later review or worse, hit the delete button. Create an informative and clear subject line to ensure that your e-mail will be read in a timely manner. When applying for a specific opening, list the exact title of the position in the subject line to inform the employer of your purpose. For example, “Application for Controller Position.”

Don’t forget the cover letter. Your e-mail message will serve as your cover letter, therefore it’s not necessary to send it as an attachment. Remember to include the appropriate salutation and closing. In other words, treat the cover letter in the same professional manner as you would a traditional cover letter. Keep the tone friendly, yet businesslike.

Follow up. E-mail is a fast and efficient way to thank a prospective employer for his or her time and consideration. After an interview, always send a brief message. You may also want to send a more formal written thank-you letter.
E-mail can be an effective tool for getting your resume into the hands of the decision-maker almost instantaneously. The key is to use the same professional standards in electronic communication as you would when applying for a position “the old fashioned way.”


This article is provided courtesy of the Financial Management Network and RHI Management Resources and Robert Half, providing accounting and finance professionals on a project and full-time basis, respectively.

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