Is Your Email Etiquette Costing You the Job?

hey dena its michael, here is an updated  resume…thank you so much for taking time out of your day for helping me with my resume!

Would you respond to this email if it came from a complete stranger? No? An employer wouldn’t either.  This is an actual email I got about 3 years ago while working at a university from an alumnus who had graduated a year prior.  He called me because he was having a hard time finding a job in his field and wanted me to take a look at his resume to see if it needed improving.  A few days later that one line is what I received in my inbox with his resume attached.  My initial response was to delete the email because I was so put off by the lack of professionalism and not to mention he didn’t even capitalize my name!!  After a few hours of thinking about what I am called to do as a Career Consultant, I retrieved the email out of my trash folder and took a look at the resume he sent.  I responded to the email with my suggestions and explained to him the inappropriateness of his email. I told him that his lack of email etiquette is a reflection of his lack of professionalism and this could very well be contributing to his inability to get the job he desired. I explained to him that I initially deleted his email and that an employer would have surely deleted it without a second thought.  I reminded him to always be professional especially with those whom he does not have a close relationship with and is requesting help from.  This was the response to my email:

Good afternoon Ms. Bilbrew,

I am so glad for your help with my resume. Your time and effort is greatly appreciated!  Here is my updated resume with the following corrections that you advised. Hopefully I am getting somewhere with it. Thank you so much for your help with this.

Michael Jones

I am convinced that something happened in January 2014.  I think I missed the memo that said all email etiquette has gone out the window.  Did anybody else miss it? I mean there must have been a memo that went out because this is when I started receiving an abundance of emails with no subject, no greeting, and nothing written in the body.  I guess the memo said that the person whom you are sending the email to will just automatically know what you want them to do with the document you attached??!!  Also, I believe our daily messaging on social media and in text messages contributes to our lackluster email habits.  In case no has told you, communicating on social media is different from communicating with an employer.  Employers receive hundreds of emails each week from potential candidates and their time is very valuable.  They don’t have time to try to figure out what you meant to say and they most definitely do not have to give you a second chance like I did with the person I mentioned at the beginning of this article.

I get emails every day from people requesting my help and keep in mind these emails are from people who want assistance with getting to the next step in their career.  If you are unprofessional with me, how unprofessional are you when communicating with potential employers?  Your email etiquette is a reflection of you and your professionalism.  Sometimes it may be the only thing a person has to go by if they do not know you personally and it should ALWAYS be professional.  Now of course, I’m not talking about the emails you send to your family and friends.  I’m talking about the emails you are sending to a potential employer to apply for a job, follow-up to an interview or networking event, or inquire as to your status in the hiring process.  Failure to effectively communicate in the emails you are sending could very well cost you the job!  Most of the time you will only get one shot and there are some important tips to keep in mind:

1) Be Professional

Be as professional in your emails as you would be if talking to them in person.

2) Include a Subject

Employers receive tons of email so you want to choose a subject that will get their attention and perhaps cause them to open your email first.  Examples of subject lines would be – “Assistant Manager Job Opening” or “Thank You – Assistant Manager Interview” or “Professional Networking Event Follow Up” or “Jane Doe Resume for Assistant Manager Position.”

3) Start with a Greeting or Salutation

When you walk up to people in person, you normally speak first, right?  Well a greeting/salutation serves the same purpose in an email.  Something as simple as “Hello Mr. Smith,” or “Good morning Michelle,” will suffice. (Note:  Use their first name only if they have told you it’s okay or you know them well enough to do so.)

4) Get to the Point Quickly

Did I mention that employers are busy?  They don’t have all day to read an email with you beating around the bush.  You should be able to say what you want to say in a few sentences.

5) Give Them a Reason to Respond to You

This may take a little thought as you will need to be strategic.  If following up to an interview or networking event, you can always ask them a question about something discussed when you met.  If you are reaching out for the first time, mention what you are wanting from them without being too overbearing.

6) Type the Email Address Last

When sending an email to an employer, you will probably be nervous while you are making sure you are communicating effectively.  Be sure to type up your email and attach any documents FIRST and THEN type in the employer’s email address last.  This will avoid you inadvertently hitting the send button out of nervousness and your email wasn’t ready.  Oops!

Keep in mind that employers are using email more and more these days to communicate with candidates. They are more likely to respond to you via email to set up an interview or follow-up with you than call you on the phone.  So email etiquette is more important now than ever before.

Happy Emailing!!

Dena Bilbrew has given career advice to over 3000 people nationwide.  Her career has spanned 20 years and has included 3 different industries – information technology, retail management, and career services.  Her keen ability to connect with the people she advises is due to the several changes in her own career.  With each career change she realized the importance of transferable skills and the value of “reinventing” yourself.  Dena’s passion for helping others led her to launch DB Professional Concepts (, which is designed to assist jobseekers nationwide with the tools needed to be successful in their careers.  She wants to empower others to take their future into their own hands and have the career they desire.  You can email Dena Bilbrew directly at to get assistance with resume restructuring, cover letter development, interview preparation, job search strategies, LinkedIn profiles, personalized coaching sessions, etc.