Job Applicants’ Emails That Win With Bebe

Last week I taught a business writing class at a sophisticated communications company in San Francisco. One of the attendees was a recruiter, Bebe, whose responsibility is to fill jobs in San Francisco and Seattle.

When Bebe read my revision of an ineffective email, she cried out, "THIS is what I need from applicants! I wish they would give me THIS!"

What Bebe wants from job candidates who write to her is this:

  • A subject line or a short opening sentence that names the job the applicant is applying for.
  • Short chunks of text. No paragraphs longer than four lines.
  • Short sentences, each one 25 words or less.
  • Bullet points that concisely list experience and accomplishments that are relevant to the job.
  • Headings, where appropriate, to make something stand out.
  • Nothing irrelevant–only information that Bebe needs to determine whether she should forward the resume to a hiring manager.
  • Nothing unprofessional such as a bold red font or wallpaper backgrounds.
  • No more than one follow-up message. After that, Bebe feels pestered, which is not a way to win her respect or her goodwill.  

My best advice for people who are writing job-search messages is this: Remember that you are writing to get the interview–not the job. You do not have to tell everything. (Doing so will lead to a bloated message.) You only have to tell enough to communicate that you are worth interviewing.

Do you have tips for job-search emails and letters? Please share them with the applicants who read this blog.

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  1. Thanks for the excellent tips. I would add this: Read the job posting carefully. If you do NOT have the basic requirements, don’t send a resume, especially if the job requires specific skills that you don’t have.

  2. D. Siegel, I like your advice. Too often applicants think that getting their resume in front of a recruiter is the goal. But when applicants are obviously not qualified for a particular job, submitting a resume sends the message that they can’t read, have an inflated view of their abilities, or are acting in desperation.

    Thanks for commenting.


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