The Best Ways to Communicate During the Job Hunt

Consider your audience.

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Lindsay Olson
With so many different ways to communicate these days, which one is the best one to ensure you stay in the running for a job opportunity?

Consider Your Audience

While you might prefer sending emails, the other person may be easier to reach on the phone. Stick to what the other person prefers. It may not be possible to know a hiring manager’s preference for communication methods, so look for clues in the job description and throughout the process. If it specifically states in the job description to send your inquiry via email, make sure you first follow those directions. If it’s unclear and several options are listed, it’s OK to start with a phone call and follow up with an email. Use the method of communication the job description dictates.

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How to Use Email Effectively

If you apply for a job or follow up to it via email, always refer to the job description, job number, or other reference point so that your recipient knows which job you are referring to. The hiring manager or recruiting team may be juggling several job openings at the same time, so you’ll save them time if you make it easy to figure out which one you’re applying for.

Make sure your signature includes any useful information the hiring manager might want to look at, such as a link to your blog or LinkedIn profile. By keeping all of your social sites and links in one place, you make it easy for the employer to research your background.

When it comes to emailing your resume, there are two options. You can include an attached file for your resume or paste it in the body of the email. Some mail servers flag emails from unknown recipients that have attachments as spam, so you may want to paste your resume in the body of the email to make sure it is received. Most people send their resume as an attachment. PDF format looks nice and clean. Doc files are also accepted—just make sure your change tracking is turned off before saving and sending it. Send an appropriately named file—your first name and last name should suffice.

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It’s easy to be casual via email. It’s safer to go with the more formal address for your introductory emails. Maintain a professional tone.

Picking up the Phone

Some people still prefer to use the phone to communicate. Even if you’re not a phone person, if you know the company prefers to handle business over the phone, pick it up!

Always speak slowly and clearly. Remember that you’re taking someone off guard with your call, and they likely won’t be completely tuned in when you say your name. You may need to repeat it and give them a second to change gears.

If possible, schedule a time to chat ahead of time to minimize inconvenience. If you’re calling impromptu, always ask if the person you’re reaching out to has time to speak with you. (“Is now a good time to talk?”)

When leaving voicemail, lead with your name and phone number. If you leave that part until the end, you risk the listener moving on before having a chance to write it down. Then leave a short and concise message, repeating your name and number at the end. Make sure you mention the reason for your call.

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When to Send a Letter

Very few companies will ask you to mail a resume (it’s too slow!), but you may need to fill out their paperwork and mail that in. Make sure to fill out paperwork legibly and ensure you’ve addressed the envelope correctly.

Looking to stand out after a job interview? A failproof idea is to send a thank you card in the mail. So few people do, your handwritten note will stand out.

Things to Keep in Mind

No matter how you prefer to communicate, you should always default to the preference of the person you’re reaching out to. Pay attention to cues (if you keep calling her, and she replies via email) and respond appropriately. Always maintain your professionalism!

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.