This is an article by guest blogger Jorg Stegemann.
99 per cent of any given application process will start online – may it be as a job ad response, an email contact or a LinkedIn invitation. Read on for these eight tips to make it to the interview. This posting comes in two parts, “The Science” and “The Art”. The first part is about tips for the format of your email and the most interesting tips about content are covered in the second part.
- Make it old-school: Choose or create a traditional email address. I personally do not know any alternative to “firstname.lastname@example.org”. It is obvious that you should not use “Bunny@strangeprovider.to” and neither your professional address. Believe it or not, one of my candidates is called “Francois” yet his email address reads “Fancois”. Another one is called “Guy” and his name is written “Gui” in his email address. Francois and Guy: If you wonder why 8 in 10 people tell you your email didn’t get through to them – I know the answer. Don’t change the spelling of your name, even if you have quite a common one.
- Make it professional: Don’t add any Word document attachment to the email with your cover letter, the email body is the right place for your pitch. Another thing I regularly see is the date and home address on top of the email address. And even fax applications still exist and we get one per month minimum, strangely very often from Directors of Sales & Marketing who should know how to communicate efficiently. Put your text into the email and add only one attachment (your CV).
- Make it small: Zip any content that brings your email above 3 MB as it may not get through.
- Make it right: Typos are unacceptable. Run a check before sending or ask someone to proof-read.
- Make it short: If the reader has to scroll down to read the entire text, your email is too long. Bear in mind that decision makers take less than one minute for your cover letter and your CV. Another true story: One of my contacts, a recruiter with proven track record, recently gave an interview and said “The cover letter is of utmost importance”. When I asked him if that is what he really thinks, his answer was “No, of course not. I usually don’t read the cover letter” (Key learning: do not believe everything you read)
- Make it specific: An effective subject line will give a summary of the email that follows. What is the purpose of your email, what makes you special and why are you a good fit for the job? Rather than “As discussed” or “Stegemann CV”, write “XYZ Manager, 12 years international experience in B2B, leadership of multi-site teams, English and Spanish”. Hiring managers get up to 100 emails on a job ad. With a subject line like this, you get their attention if what you write is meaningful to the job advertised.
- Make it general: Beware of personalised parts such as “working for you, Penny-Ann, would be…”, “a role at Google is” or “I have been passionate about the morgue industry for a long time”. One out of ten applications like this that I get, don’t read the right names…
- Make it interactive: Many companies use email signatures as commercial space. Why don’t you do the same and add your LinkedIn profile and (if you have) your Twitter account? I guess CVs will not exist anymore in ten years and everything will be online, so you just go one step into the right direction. Your LinkedIn profile should be a streamlined version of your CV and show your capability to sell yourself and to manage priorities. Twitter, on the other hand, is a powerful tool to demonstrate how and what you communicate.
Do not try to prove creativity in the science part of your application. Do, however, show your sales and communication skills and priority management in the second part and we will be happy to invite you to the interview.
About the author:
Jorg Stegemann has been working in professional recruitment since 2001, has coached thousands of professionals from entry to C-level and found a new job for hundreds of candidates. In the past, he has held various managerial and corporate functions with three major players in this industry and with a pan-European scope. Jorg blogs on My Job Thoughts | Career advice from a headhunter.