In addition to operating a successful resume writing business, I also have a very busy pet sitting service – Snug as a Bug. I know. Very odd combination, but it works. And it combines my two passions – writing and animals.
Since my pet sitting service offers in home care for people’s pets, I spend a good deal of time in my car going from client to client. A few Sunday’s ago I was listening to The Garden Hotline, with Ralph Snodsmith on our local talk radio station, The Big Talker.
At one point during the show, Mr. Snodsmith told listeners to send their garden questions to him via email. He then went on to give “his rules” for emailing. At first I thought, you’ve got to be kidding. How arrogant. I couldn’t believe he was telling people what he will and won’t read based on the presentation of the email question. He went so far as to say he deleted unsigned, badly worded and unpunctuated emails. Oh my.
Then he said something that quickly changed my opinion of his position on emails. He said, “I’m giving you my time to read and answer your questions. The least you can do is present it in a readable format, in proper English.” I went from “how arrogant” to “right on Ralph” in about 2.7 seconds.
His comments made me think back to the emails I used to get when I was a professional recruiter. Frequently, I’d get a blank email with an attachment and nothing in the subject line. Was that job seeker thinking about me the recipient? No. I had to open the email, figure out which of my 20 open job orders he was responding to and then figure out if he was a fit. Considering I frequently received more than 300 email responses for job openings in my inbox overnight, I’ll promise you, those “mystery emails” were opened last, if at all.
This writing from a reader’s perspective parallels the job search process. If you submit your resume via email, take a moment to draft a brief note to the person on the receiving end, letting them know why you’re contacting them. And take the time to do it in proper English, with correct spelling and punctuation. Don’t make them guess why you’re sending in your resume and don’t make them decipher some sort of coded shorthand with phonetic spelling. In my November 13, 2008 post, I told you the job search is all about them. That approach should start with the very first contact. Before they even see your resume, they’ll see your email. Make sure it’s a proper representation of the image you’re trying to convey.
Here are a few of Mr. Snodsmith’s “rules for emailing”. Following them will absolutely set you apart from the rest of the pack.
1. Sign your emails. Don’t assume your email address reveals who you are. And if it’s pertinent, put your location and contact information so the receiver doesn’t have to dig. I don’t care if it’s on your rez AND your cover letter. Put it in the cover email too.
2. Make your subject line meaningful. Use it to help convey your reason for contact.
3. If you’re referring to yourself, the correct way to do that is with a capital “I”, not a lower case “i”. Capital letters also begin sentences, names and proper nouns. (How difficult is it to hit the shift key?)
4. Periods, question marks, exclamation points denote the end of a sentence. Use them.
5. Spell out the information you’re trying to convey. L8R or UR GR8 is fine for a text message to friends. It is not appropriate for business correspondence.
6. Use your spell checker (but don’t depend on it.) Take a moment to read what you wrote before you hit send and ensure what you’ve written is what you’re intending to say. (Good advice for EVERY email you send.)
Mr. Snodsmith boasts more than 50 years’ gardening experience. I’d say, in addition to gardening expertise, he offers an important lesson in communication.
On a final note:
As the United States prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, remember, even with the current economic outlook, bailouts and a future filled with uncertainty, we still live in the greatest country in the world. Gather your friends and family and take a moment to be grateful for all life’s blessings. If you’re honest, you’ll find them way too numerable to count.
If the only prayer you said in your whole life was “thank you,” that would suffice.