Email is the most frequently used method of communication in business today. Most of your communication with a potential employer will take place in a series of email messages so there is basic email etiquette that you should observe during all communications with businesses. For a short check list of email etiquette, click here.

First, you should always be using a professional email address. While we all like to express our individuality with email addresses like "hotstuff", "steelersrule", "borntofish" , "borntoparty", or the like, this display of personality is likely to turn off an employer before he or she has ever actually read your email. Since you can use any of the commercial services to create and delete email accounts at will, it is recommended that you create a professional account to use with all of your professional correspondence. These can be as simple as your last name "Smith" or last name and first initials "SmithK" or a combination of name and birthday "Smyth1223". Any of these are lot more professional looking than those cited above. After you have created this account make sure and always use it in résumés, cover letters and other correspondence while working on your job hunt.

Next up is body of the email. Though very few of us write formal letters these days, you need to view the body of an email as a type of formal letter to your future employer. Therefore all of your email correspondence should include the following:

  1. A Subject line must be included that is meaningful and related to the topic. The subject line should be short, yet include enough information to help the recipient know what the email contains when he or she receives it. For example, Internship Application" John Doe or Letter of Inquiry
  2. The email should have an opening. The opening is your standard opening on any type of formal correspondence: "Dear Mr. Gold"; "Dear Dr. Angelo". Through your research or through the job advertisement you should have an individual to address your email to. However, should the job advertisement list only a title such as Human Resources Manager or Hiring Manager, you should still address it in a formal way "To the Human Resources Manager, XYZ Widget Company." Then the greeting is Dear Sir or Madam. However, it is strongly advised that during your research phase you locate the specific individual to whom you can address your email correspondence. This will make your communicate flow much easier.
  3. The body of the email is the same as that of a formal letter. State why you are contacting the person, what job you are interested in and why you believe the company should consider you for the position. You should always alter the body to fit the needs of the communication you are writing or responding to and make sure that everything you type is spelled correctly and your sentences are grammatically correct.
  4. The closing is your formal end to your message. At the least you should thank the person for considering you application. If you have talked with person, either in-person or on the phone, you may also include something like "I enjoyed our phone interview on Wednesday" or "I enjoyed meeting you and the staff during our interview". These phrases just go to adding the human element to any communication.

    • The invitation to an interview.
    • As a follow up after the interview.
    • An invitation to a second interview.
    • After the second interview.
    • And yes, even if you receive a rejection email you should send a thank you note.
  5. Finally, the closing. Unless you have grown very close to the person, the best way to go is with "Sincerely, Your Name."
  6. As we've said before, your email is a formal communication; therefore there should be no use of shorthand (H R U? G8 2 C U, LOL) etc. This will undoubtedly get you rejected before you even get your foot in the door.
  7. Also, the email should have no misspellings and use correct grammar and punctuation in all cases.
  8. After you have written your email message, go back and read it again very carefully. Make sure it says what you meant to say and cannot be interpreted in any other way. Make sure it sets a pleasant tone and shows respect to the person. Once your email is sent it cannot be retrieved.

Social Media

Social media on the web can impact your ability to obtain an internship or job. When looking for a job or an internship, social media can and does play and very important role in helping you make those initial contacts that you need to find the jobs and then to maintain those contacts as you move forward with you job search. However, there have been instances where social media has hurt a person's job chances, and with the continued expansion of social media, potential employers now have another avenue to discover more information about you than just from your résumé, cover letter and interview. Therefore, it is critically important to your job search that you take a very critical look at what you have posted on your Facebooktm pages, said in your Twittertm postings and what your friends have said about you or photos they have posted of you on their pages.

There is no definitive list of things that may cause employers to reject your application based on things you've posted via social media so it is very hard to say exactly what you should remove or have your friends remove from your pages. You want to portray yourself in the best light possible so here are few recommendations of things to remove:

  • Remove all photos of you living it up at wild parties.
  • Remove all photos of you consuming alcohol or doing drugs.
  • Remove all photos of you or anyone in the picture in a provocative or suggestive pose.
  • Remove all photos of you doing "dumb" things; i.e. jumping your bike off a building, doing head-stands on your motorcycle, etc.
  • Any other photos that a potential employer could find objectionable. You must look at all your photos from the perspective of your employer not your friends.
  • You should also check all of the comments that you and your friends have posted and remove any that are unflattering, denigrating to someone or those that contain profanity.

Social media is not all bad. As a fact it is now the singular most popular way that people are making contacts and building job networks. One of the most popular sites that everyone who is looking for a job should join is Linkedintm. This is probably the fastest growing website for job seekers and employers on the net today. LinkedIn has forums and groups for people seeking jobs and those advertising those jobs so you should not overlook this resource when looking for your first job or internship. Just make sure any postings reflect positively on your potential as an intern or an employee.