When it comes to job hunting, the more you put yourself out there the more successful you’re going to be. Far from sending a couple of applications and hoping for a positive response, the vast number of students straight out of university applying for jobs means that employers are looking for a little bit more – and its down to you to make yourself known.
Thankfully, universities offer plenty of networking opportunities, and nowadays its even easier to contact potential employers via the internet and social media. However, as if it wasn’t nerve wracking enough to reach out and put yourself on the radar of those you hope to one-day work for, the danger of committing a grammatical faux pas is a lingering worry. With just one fell swoop, your chances of securing that dream job could crumble around you.
So, we’ve put together our top 5 tips for you to follow when writing to any potential employer, to help you stand out from the crowd and help you along the way into the job that you always wanted.
Start as you mean to go on
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so tailor the opening of your email to the person you’re writing to. If you’re writing to someone from a law firm, “Hello” is probably not the best start; if its someone from a niche magazine, however, “Dear Sir” is going to be too formal. Think before you click send.
There are two main factors to consider: the person and the company. Do your research – know the company, check their social media, endlessly pour over their website. It sounds superficial, but tone is everything, and if you get off on the wrong foot you’re just setting yourself up for failure.
Flattery gets you everywhere
It’s a cliché, but its true. And, it shows your interest in the company.
If there’s one way to stand out, its to look like you’ve been obsessing over their website/history for at least a week… and then some! Cite specific articles or details that you enjoyed, and always relate it back to why you’re getting in contact. It not only shows your interest, but also lets them know that you fit right in with what they’re doing. Its win-win, really…
Keep it real
As we said, tone is everything when you’re writing to someone for the first time, and if you’re putting it on its probably going to stand out a mile off. Yes, sometimes you have to be a little more formal that usual, but if you lay it on too thick its going to work against you.
Again, this all depends on the person that you’re talking to, but even ‘formal’ has its limits. A few pointers:
‡ Long sentences won’t make you look good – it just looks like you can’t use grammar!
‡ Same with big words, just don’t do it! You just know you’ll use one in the wrong context and look a fool.
‡ Show an interest in the work, but don’t pretend that you live and breathe it! You’re speaking to a real person, with a life outside of the office – they’ll see right through it!
Its always good to evidence work that you’ve done, but be sure to be neat about it. Endless lines of blue URLs will do you no favours – not only does it look unappealing, but it also looks like you don’t know how to embed hyperlinks into the body of your emails.
A far tidier way is to attach the link to certain words (probably the title of what you’re referencing, or the name of the website on which its published). This way, the email reads coherently, and its clearly signposted to the reader where the link occurs.
Much like beginning your email, the ending is the last thing the reader will see, so its essential that you get it right. And, again, it all depends on who you’re speaking to.
As a rule, if you’re acquainted with the person, you can probably be a little more colloquial. Similarly, if it’s concerning a job that requires you to be a little more sociable, you don’t want to be too rigid. On a simple level, “Regards” or “Best” are probably safe bets, especially if you’re reaching out on a personal level.
Its all about being approachable, and making that person want to be in contact with you.