The whole process of modern jobhunting has shifted online, with plenty of platforms and apps available for the average jobseeker.
And since this move of “everything online” is still a pretty new thing, I completely understand why the job emails that some of you have been sending out look… troubled, to say the least.
Lesson 1, these are NOT the kind of emails you should be sending. Not only will you not get the job, but you’ll probably sour that particular employer to any future applications you send their way.
They say that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So here is a list of problematic emails that we have actually received before, and an explanation as to why they are not good for your job prospects.
Most of the emails below are recreations, unless otherwise stated, because we don’t want to hurt any feelings.
This mistake is especially unforgivable now that Gmail actually notifies you if you forget to add attachments (try to send an email that says ‘attached’ without attaching anything and see).
It’s especially egregious if what you’re forgetting is the CV that should, ideally, convince the employer why you should be hired.
Not to mention, this email doesn’t provide much detail. Employers are usually busy people, and they have no time to scour through your (nonexistent) resume to figure out what job you’re even applying for.
Tips on how to avoid it:
Firstly, prepare a template email in your drafts with all of the basics already attached and written-out, like the initial greeting and the CV attached.
Next, include some sentences that explain why you are the candidate for the position you’re applying for. Ideally, the second part should be unique to each and every email. Focus on the different aspects of the job, like the job-scope and how you can uniquely contribute to the company without forgetting basics.
Secondly, be proactive! State clearly what job you’re looking for. If you think you suit more than one job, point out all of them in the email, within reason of course. Don’t indicate 6 different jobs.
This not only shows that you’re decisive, but also that you’ve done at least some research on the company and know what the company is looking for.
As you can see, I write this from a place of experience. I understand sending out emails from templates to save time. But the downside is that you might forget to change the name of the employer in the body of the email.
I got lucky in that I found a very understanding employer who didn’t mind, but not everyone is so forgiving.
Tips on how to avoid it:
With the volume of job applications that today’s applicants are sending, it’s definitely beneficial to have a template. But it won’t hurt to have a checklist of all of the things you need to double check before you send each of those emails out.
After all, the one with the missed typo might’ve been the job of your dreams, and it puts a little damper on that “detail oriented” description on your CV.
In this email, there are some hints of good etiquette. For one, there’s specification. The sender, applying for a writer position indicates that she already has experience in writing, and even provides something of her portfolio in the email. She’s also very clear about which job that she wants, which is actually better than the previous “any job” post.
However, it’s still too casual. Some employers are actually chill with really casual job application emails, but it’s better to err on the formal side. That first email is actually the employer’s first hint at how well you communicate. And in this case, if you’re applying as a writer, then you definitely need to showcase that you’re great at getting the message across.
Tips on how to avoid it:
If you’re not sure how to structure formal emails, there are templates that you can Google online that can easily be converted for your own purposes. After that, you can play by ear. If your potential employer then acts super chill and mellow in the email, it’s fine to follow suit to show that you’re cool. But don’t forget to at least initiate contact with a certain level of formality. Do leave off the smileys, unless the employer uses them first.
Don’t forget to check your England before you send that important email. This rule applies to any correspondence you send out formally. Again in this email, it’s particularly bad because this particular candidate was applying for an editor’s job.
More than just something that might annoy a particularly grammar-nazi employer, using chat speak and bad English might, unfortunately, reflect poorly on you. It indicates a lack of professionalism, and a slapdash personality.
Tips on how to avoid it:
Get someone to help look over your emails to proofread them before sending, if you need to.
The email above might not appear too bad if the sender at least formatted it to make it look more formal and taken care to capitalise the beginning greeting. Remember, emails are not WhatsApp messages (which have an etiquette of their own). If you’re typing a job application email, perhaps use your laptop or computer rather than rushing it out on your mobile.
So How Do I Write My Emails Then?
First of all, make sure that your resumes and any Cover Letters are saved in the right format. Employers here tend to prefer PDFs, but certain websites say that you’re allowed to save it in a Microsoft Word document as well.
Next, the question is, is a cover letter important in an email job application? The answer is: that depends.
BEAM asks you to pitch your case in 140 characters, and Jobstreet has a similarly limited ‘pitch’ that you can submit on top of your resume.
We asked an employer in an education-related SME and she told us, “Honestly in Malaysia, no one reads the cover letter for an average job. They look straight at the resume to see if the person fits with what they need.”
Meanwhile an executive at a large telecommunications company who has worked there for 20 years said, “It’s all important. All contact points are taken into consideration.”
We asked if not providing a cover letter would reduce their chances of getting hired, and he replied, “It depends, sometimes. But if they don’t provide a cover letter, it’s as if they aren’t serious in asking for a job.”
So again, play this by ear.
And the reason we asked is because:
How detailed you are in the email depends on whether you’re sending a cover letter or not.
If you’re sending a cover letter, then a short and professional email is enough to get employers invested in your application.
If not including a Cover Letter, The Balance has created an excellent article that shows you what you need to include in your email body, so make sure this is all present no matter what email you send.
As for an email with a cover letter:
An example of an email without a cover letter:
Here’s an example of an email that’s personalised, but still professional
The important thing about writing that first email, or in a cover letter is to inject your personality! Make sure that it’s professional, but don’t forget to make it interesting.
If you’ve done volunteer work at the bottom of the ocean to benefit orphan fishes or something, that’s definitely something that has to be somewhere, be it in your resume or email body. If not, let your personality shine through from your writing style.
Even indicating that you’re a die-hard fan of Doctor Who, as long as it’s done in a formal format and with a touch of class, can make your application stand out from others.
Happy job-hunting and good luck!