For last year's words belong to last year's language,
And next year's words await another voice.
E-mail could be your first introduction to a potential employer and is a tool that you will likely use during your job search. Composing e-mails showcases your writing ability, responsiveness, communication style, and professionalism. A job search can demand a lot of time and attention to detail. Considering the importance of crafting a good impression and the amount of e-mails you might send when applying for multiple jobs, you will have an easier time in your search if you have prepared and saved a few e-mail templates. The e-mail topics below represent communication touchpoints that employers might expect during a job search. We will review why these communications are beneficial and give a few suggestions to consider when writing. The composing of the template is up to you!
1. Asking for a Reference
Many job applications require references, people who can vouch for your professional experience and work ethic. Choose references carefully, since employers may contact these individuals as a part of screening job candidates. At the beginning of your job search, long before an employer has a chance to reach out to references, you should send a request to your chosen contacts to ask if they will be a reference during your upcoming job search. If your contact is willing to be a reference, let them know where you might apply and update them as your job search progresses. Some employers immediately send out a request to your references upon completing an application, so maintain your contact early and often. Keeping in touch with your references regularly during a search helps them prepare for potential questions about their experience with you and fosters a positive relationship between you.
- Start with a short greeting. If you know the reference well, like a former supervisor, this greeting might be a casual hello and asking how they are. If you are on less familiar terms, like with an instructor in a large class environment, consider using “Dear” followed by an honorific (Dr., Ms., Mr., etc.).
- Immediately state your intent about the reference request or phrase the request as a question. Make the reference person aware of your upcoming job search.
- If needed, remind this person how they know you. In any case, describe what they did to impact you. While working together, did they help your professional outlook? Did you learn something unique from them that will help you in the future?
- Conclude with a hopeful assertion that they will be able to attest to your work ethic or skills.
- Provide relevant application materials so that your reference knows further context and details about your experiences and skills.
Dear Dr. Burnley,
I hope your semester is going well. I am writing to ask: would you be willing to serve as a reference for my upcoming job search? I am preparing to apply for positions in the library science field. I really enjoyed my ENGL 4000 class during Spring 2019 and learned a lot from you about researching literary criticism. The project where we visited the Special Collections Library confirmed my interest in this field. I hope that you will be able to attest to my interest and skills for prospective employers. I have attached my resume and cover letter in case you could use a comprehensive view of my experience.
Thank you very much,
A.B. English, class of 2011
2. Requesting an Informational Interview
An informational interview allows you to learn from someone who knows the job you are seeking or the industry you are trying to join. Interviewing by this method is less formal than applying for a job, but it is still an opportunity to impress someone connected to your job search. The person with whom you conduct an informational interview might not be the same employer to which you are applying or connected to any specific job application. Reaching out to this kind of tertiary contact makes your interest in other potential jobs clear and communicates that you are eager to learn more.
- More than likely, you do not know this person very well. It may be necessary to provide context and background information about yourself.
- Try to establish common ground where you can find it:
- Do you have a mutual acquaintance?
- Have you worked in the same job, company, field before?
- Did you attend the same university?
- Acknowledge that you are seeking to learn more information about their profession in the hope of transitioning to their occupation in the future.
- If you have done any research on their website, company, product, or service, mention something that stands out to you about their work.
- Remember that this person is potentially doing you a favor. Describe how meeting with them would be an opportunity for you.
- Suggest a short timeframe for the meeting to occur. Will it be 15 minutes, maybe 20?
- Indicate your flexibility for interview format: in person, phone, video conference, etc.
- Suggest that you are looking to conduct this informational interview at a time of their convenience but within a relevant time period. “Soon” or “in the near future” are phrases that help you introduce a timeline but also allow your contact to choose a good time for them.
- Offer to suggest your availability if that is more convenient for your contact.
- Specify a topic you would like to review in the interview. You may want to know their personal career pathway, how their education and training helped them in their position, what skills do they use most often in their work, etc.
My name is Justin Burnley. I was given your name/found your name by ___. I am a (class year) at UGA and am interested in arranging an informational interview to learn more about your journey to _____. Please let me know when would be a good time for me to meet with you over the phone, in person, or via online video for a half hour conversation. I am happy to provide dates and times that are suitable for my schedule should you find this more convenient.
3. Introduction: I Have Just Applied for the Position
Always apply through the appropriate channel per the employer’s specifications. Even so, your application probably sits alongside many others. If you want yours to stand out after you have applied for a position, introducing yourself in an e-mail just promotes name recognition. Additionally, it allows the employer to notice your application even if they are proceeding onto interviews and are no longer reviewing new applicants as they arrive. This kind of email is another opportunity to establish your interest in a particular position and highlight your unique qualifications.
- If uncertain who to contact, research the company directory as available and reach out to someone you consider to be a person of influence and related to the position in question
- Indicate genuine interest in the position
- Connect 1-2 specific skills or experiences to the perceived needs of the position
- Avoid implying an expected response; imply that you want to express your interest
- Attach your application materials for convenience (resume, cover letter, etc.)
Hello Mr. Burnley,
I wanted to reach out after submitting my application for the position of Career Consultant for the UGA Career Center. I am looking to enter the field of career services and felt this position was in alignment with my educational and professional experiences. I have previously served as a Career Development Intern and assisted with career-related presentations. I have attached my resume and cover letter for your convenience. I am very excited to potentially contribute to your organization and welcome the opportunity to discuss this position further or provide any additional information needed. Thank you for your consideration.
4. Inquiring About the Status of an Application
Some employers post positions with an estimated start date. Some industries start new hires during a particular time of year. Sometimes the timeline for hiring is not clear, and you can use an e-mail as a tool for clarifying expectations. Maybe it has been two weeks since you have applied and you want to re-demonstrate your interest in the position. You might be making progress on one job offer and want to check up on the job that gave you an interview a while ago. A polite follow-up e-mail is a potential way to gain more information for your search.
- Use a straightforward subject line that names the position title
- Mention your continued interest in the position and briefly reiterate why you are a good candidate for the position
- Indicate your contact information and ask about next steps in the application process
- Keep the e-mail concise, only a few sentences
Dear Mr. Burnley,
I hope the application review is going well for the Career Consultant position. I am still interested and hope to contribute my 5 years of experience advising students on their academic and career goals to your department. I wanted to inquire if you are moving forward with selecting applicants and if there is any further information I can provide for now. You can reach me any time at (phone number or e-mail).
Post-interview Thank You
You have just interviewed and want to leave a lasting impression. A thank you e-mail is an opportunity to communicate new information to your interviewer. You now have more knowledge about the position, your future employer/coworkers, and the work environment. Your answers to your interview questions attempted to illustrate your fit in the position and you can mention that specific fit again in your follow-up message. Most of all, this e-mail expresses gratitude to the employer who took the time to find out more about you and will potentially offer you employment.
- Take note of the people in your interview and write each a brief thank you message either the same day or next day
- If you cannot locate the names and e-mails of everyone in your interview, write an all-inclusive message to your main correspondent
- Mention conversation pieces from your interview or something new you learned about the employer
- Include details from the interview that illustrate your fit to the position
- Sincerely express your gratitude for the employer’s time and consideration
- In addition, thank the employer for something more specific: informing you more about the company/position, offering a tour of the facility, welcoming or greeting you, and/or providing answers to your questions
Dear Mr. Burnley,
I wanted to take some time this morning to thank you and your team for our interview meetings yesterday. I enjoyed having a conversation with different members of the Career Center and your insights on assisting students with their job search e-mail templates. I hope you received everything you would like to know about me as a candidate and how my years of experience working with students will translate to this role. I certainly left with a great impression. Best of luck with your search, and I hope to hear from you soon.
I am thankful for small mercies. I compared notes with one of my friends who expects everything of the universe, and is disappointed when anything is less than the best, and I found that I begin at the other extreme, expecting nothing, and am always full of thanks for moderate goods.