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The scenario: You’ve had a wonderful week off on vacation, and you’ve just come back to work. You turn on the computer, open up Microsoft Outlook (or your chosen email platform) … and immediately get inundated with hundreds of emails. Think about it: How many of those simply get deleted? And how many rate as important? While email has become the preferred method of communication, you need to know how to use it effectively, both as a job seeker and as an employer. Otherwise, the message literally and figuratively just gets trashed.

As a job seeker…

  • Keep it clear and concise. Considering that most employers do have pretty full inboxes, take any perplexity out of reading your email. Make your heading obvious and a summary of your email (“Follow-up: IT Coordinator posting,” “inquiry from colleague of John Smith [mutual acquaintance]”) and keep your email short and to the point. Employers have busy days; they don’t want to deal with any guesswork. State your intentions clearly and professionally, and let the person know how they can reach you. Make sure it takes just a few minutes to read; review and revise before sending. And make sure you use a formal-looking address — mary.nesbit@gmail.com looks much better than MnGurl2313@gmail.com.
  • Set up your inbox and stay on top of it. If you get an email response from a potential employer, make sure you see the email and respond promptly. If your own inbox gets cluttered, see what tips or tricks in your email platform you can use to bump that employer’s email to the top of your “to-read” list. If it goes into the spam or another stray folder by accident, you could miss a great opportunity.

As an employer…

  • Know when to send. A 2012 report stated that the average worker spent nearly 30 percent of his day reading and responding to email. And while email does manage to get to multiple people in multiple places, you need to make reading it truly worthwhile. If it requires more than a few short paragraphs, you may want to set up a phone call instead (and you can set it up using email!). If it’s not work-related, don’t send it. If you’re CC’ing fifteen people and it really only needs to go to five, only send it to those five. You may also want to consider the oldest form of communication, talking face-to-face. Utilizing email effectively requires you knowing when to send.
  • Clear and concise works here, too. The subject heading should encapsulate your message so there’s no confusion. Keep the “High Importance” flag usage to a minimum; overuse means it will get overlooked. Use a greeting so multiple recipients will know who it’s intended for (that’s just good etiquette), and state the purpose of the email, the context of it, and the response you want. Keep the informal chat to a bare minimum, and think twice before hitting “Reply All.”

To use email effectively, know what you want to write before you write it. For help improving your communication techniques, electronic or otherwise, read our related blog posts or reach out to our experienced Thousand Oaks staffing professionals at PrideStaff.

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