Could your emails be hurting your job hunt or career? It's the small details in written communication that might be undermining your message. One popular UCLA study found that 93 percent of a message is interpreted by the nonverbal components, in other words, your tone and body language. So what does this mean in your written communication? How is the reader interpreting your message as they view it? During a job search and in your career, creating the correct professional impression is within your control. Think about how some of these overlooked details could help you get ahead.
1. Use a professional font within your email messages. When you use an unusual or colored font, you may send the wrong message. Your outgoing messages should represent your professional image; therefore, consider using a standard style such as Arial and black font. Individuality is important, however, be selective and aware of how the recipient of your email may interpret your style.
2. Use an email address that is clearly and professionally you. The email address you choose to use shouldn't be confusing, too personal, or your family account email. Your email address should contain your name, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you have a common name, consider using your middle initial or some variation of your full name, such as email@example.com or johnathan_j_doe@xmail. Avoid using your birth date, numbers, or information that would make your email difficult to recognize. Here are some examples of what NOT to do:
3. Don't use humor. It's difficult to convey humor or sarcasm in writing, therefore, the safest bet is to avoid it. The same is true for "LOL" or other modern acronyms or abbreviations used in texting frequently. These may get lost in translation and cross the line into being too personal or familiar.
4. Never use emoticons in emails. Email is not the same as texting. Smiley faces or any other type of symbol used to convey emotion or feelings could be perceived as unprofessional. Therefore, avoid using them in all of your job search correspondence.
5. Copy in appropriate people. Be selective when copying other people into your messages. If you're following up on a job posting submitted to human resources, don't copy the company's CEO or others of high rank. Nor should you copy in your mom, dad, career counselor, or others as a way of keeping them up-to-date. The receiver of the email will see these and may wonder why or may even feel threatened in some cases.
6. Wait to send an email if you're angry or frustrated. It is best to wait until you're less emotional before sending a message. You may think your tone is neutral or you may even feel it is within your right to be angry, but do not ever send an email that is emotionally charged.
7. Use a professional email signature. A professional email signature leaves a lasting and invaluable impression, and setting up one to appear in every message saves you time. Your signature should include your name, primary phone number, and job title, or work you're seeking. Adding your LinkedIn profile URL is certainly a valuable addition as well. Consider how you reference messages sent from your mobile devices too. You may want a slightly different and shorter signature to indicate it is being sent on-the-go. Don't miss out on this opportunity to separate yourself from the pack.
8. Always check spelling and grammar. Double and even triple check your emails to prevent careless errors from slipping through. Build a process for reviewing your work before you send it. Even one simple typo can convey you lack attention to detail.
Strong communication skills, both verbal and written, are extremely valuable to employers. Every message they receive from you will serve to form an impression. Be aware and alert of the impression you're sending. And most importantly, know that first impressions are lasting impressions.
Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.