As part of your job search it is inevitable that you will have to write to or ring employers. You may be applying speculatively for work experience, asking for more information about a job or have a query about the application process or interview.
Employers are not ogres but they are busy and will have expectations about how you should communicate with them.
- Some employers will put their name and contact details on a job description. They want you to ring / email them and ask questions, it helps candidates and should mean the applications are of a higher standard. Don’t expect an immediate response though they do have jobs to do, recruitment may only be a small part of it.
- If no contact for enquiries is given you need to get creative, look on the company website, ring their switchboard and ask for HR, graduate recruitment, the head of marketing or whatever function you are applying to.
You need to be professional in your communication at all times, this will create a good impression and make the employer more likely to take you seriously. Really, you would cringe to see some of the emails I have received with regard to jobs I have advertised.
- First decide – is this an appropriate conversation to have by email? If you need information quickly or to explain something complicated it might be better to ring.
- Are you contacting the most appropriate person for your enquiry? Do your research first.
Your email should be a formal business communication, the language you use should be similar in may ways to a cover letter. See examples in this guide
You should be quite formal starting your letter with Dear XXX and signing off appropriately. If the recruiter chooses to reply using Hi XXX then it would be acceptable to mirror this in your next communication. However, don’t make the mistake of becoming too informal, this is not a text to a friend. If sending emails from your phone encourages you to be brief and take short-cuts in your language and grammar, wait until you can get to a computer and do it properly.
- Be polite. It is easy to send an email that sounds quite demanding or aggressive.
- Get to the point, be clear and concise. No one has time to read long emails.
- Answer any questions you have been asked.
- Read it again and check for spelling and grammar errors.
Are you ringing a switchboard and asking to be put through or ringing a specific person on their number. You need a game plan, what happens if the person is not available, will you leave a message or find out when to call them back?
What specifically do you want to know from the call, and how will you ask? Good preparation helps you sound, and feel, more confident.
- Be clear, who are you, why are you ringing, what do you want?
- Be polite, is it convenient to talk now?
- Make notes – what do you want to say, what information did they give you.
A note on Social Media & LinkedIn
If a company has a graduate recruitment Facebook page or Twitter account, you can ask questions there. Again be polite and don’t expect an immediate response. It’s also likely that any response may be quite generic or measured as this is a public arena. Be aware also that by doing this you are practically inviting that recruiter to look at your profile, make sure it’s respectable!
LinkedIn can be a good way to find out information about companies, and you may be applying to jobs advertised here too. This is a professional networking site so if you are asking questions be polite and professional in your language and approach, and again make sure your profile is up to date. See our guide on LinkedIn and our Jobsearch guide for tips.