3. Professional Correspondence

telephonePhone Etiquette

What do I say to a contact or potential employer on the phone?

  • First, make sure you set realistic expectations. Many people you call are not going to answer or be available to talk at that time. Also, many employers may be cautious about giving information over the phone. Consider setting up an informational meeting for which your goal is to gain information about the employer and the company, rather than interview for a job.
  • Research the company as much as possible beforehand so that you already have a basic working knowledge on which to build a conversation.
  • Prepare a script in advance. Be sure to explain who you are and why you are calling by using your prepared introduction speech. Your goal in this initial contact is not to get a job interview but simply to ask for counsel and advice in light of your present job-searching circumstances. The company representative will typically be encouraged that you are showing interest in the company. Do your best to make a good impression, because this initial contact may encourage the company to consider you for future employment if and when the opportunity arises.
  • Be careful of your tone of voice when you call. Make sure you smile as you talk; this pleasant attitude will come through over the phone.

Email Etiquette

As electronic applications are becoming more and more prominent, it is important to emailmake sure all correspondence is professional.

  • Use a professional email address that includes your name, but avoid lengthy or elaborate addresses because they are harder for employers to remember and to type correctly.
    • Professional: jsmith@gmail.com, john.smith@gmail.com, jpsmith@gmail.com, johnsmith@gmail.com
    • Unprofessional: catlvr1994@yahoo.com, need_for_speed95@juno.com, John.Paul.Smith.Jr.1986.Accountant@gmail.com
  • Write a subject line that clearly communicates the contents of your email.
  • Be concise and to the point, but do include important details. Use formal language. When corresponding with a prospective employer, do not use abbreviations or emoticons, and be careful how you address the recipient.
  • Be sure that your tone is friendly and respectful rather than pushy or demanding.
  • Proofread for correct spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.
  • Include a signature that provides your contact information, including your LinkedIn or ePortfolio URL.