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.