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Email and your Job Search

Email Considerations

It is becoming increasingly common for much of your job search communication to take place via email. Despite the informal nature of email, it is still important to maintain a level of professionalism that mirrors any other formal letter. You may use email as the preferred means of communication when the following apply:

  • An employer has instructed applicants to email in references to a job opening.
  • An employer contacts you via email, and you are responding to them.
  • You follow-up to confirm important details you will want in writing, like a scheduled interview time or a job acceptance.

Some situations require more formal correspondence. Email may not be appropriate when a company specifies that printed materials need to be mailed or electronically submitted via the organization’s website. Use discretion discussing job offers, salary, and benefits through email. A phone conversation regarding these topics is the best means of communication to eliminate any misunderstanding.

If you use an email address other than your JMU address, make sure your email address sounds professional and reflects your name (e.g. james.madison@gmail.com).

Like you would with printed correspondence, keep copies of all job search emails you send and receive. Create an organization within your email account to store these emails.

Composing Your Email

When composing an email, you want to follow the guidelines for writing a cover letter or business letter. However, you do not want to include the date in your message, since an email is automatically stamped with the date. Since you treat an email as a cover letter, there is no need to attach a separate cover letter to the email. Choose a descriptive subject line for your email (e.g. Application for Position #112).

An email is not a text message, so be sure it is professional. Like a cover letter, you need to start with a salutation (e.g. “Dear Mr. Smith:”) and end with a formal closing (e.g. “Sincerely, James Madison”). Under your signature, you should include your full name and contact information (i.e. address and phone number).

Attach resumes and other attachments as a .pdf file, if possible. It is also wise to label attachments with your first and last name. Try not to send large attachments, and keep your file size to a minimum.