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Job Search Email Tips: The Dangers of Skimming and Pressing Send

Job search tips - dangers of skimming and pressing send

Are you a skimmer? Are you one of those individuals that quickly skims emails? Do you respond immediately, just so you can hit file or delete without thinking about your response? I get some pretty bizarre responses to basic requests which ultimately has helped me identify some email job search tips that can help candidates improve their chances of being hired.


When you are seeking a job, your responses to emails are being evaluated regardless of who is receiving the message. Job seekers often feel recruiters are only interested in closing the deal, which is very far from the truth. Personally, I have a College Diploma in Business Communications and a BA in History. I spent many hours reading boring text books and writing essays for the privilege of saying that.

When my clients want a candidate with “excellent communication skills” I am constantly evaluating the content of the emails I am sent from applicants. That’s part of my job; ongoing assessment. Other skills that recruiters look for in job seeker’s emails include attention to detail and resourcefulness.


It can be tempting to use the same email template when searching for a job. Just swap out the name of the position and the company and you should be ok, right? Wrong. Recruiters and HR Managers can quickly identify these types of emails and rule you out as a candidate. They pick up on this when the message doesn’t speak to the specifics of the job posting. Be sure to directly address the qualities the employer is looking for and the tasks the employee will be responsible for.


Blatant spelling mistakes will probably get identified or corrected automatically, but just because there are no red underlined words in your email, doesn’t mean it’s ready to send. For example, I sent off an invite for an interview to a candidate, and they immediately replied back and asked what industry the client was in. The name of the company was clearly indicated in the email I had sent, along with the address and contact name for the interview. It would have taken literally seconds to Google the company name!

Before pressing send, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my message clear? Or does it include vague terms like “they”?
  • Are there grammar errors? Use a tool like Hemingway to analyze your email for readability
  • Are there questions that you could find the answer to yourself? Show the recipient your resourcefulness by doing your own research

Read carefully, respond after thinking, and proofread before you press send.

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Will you be my EA?

Will you be my EA? I don’t know. Are you sharp and on the ball? Can you think on your feet? I can be difficult and I have the occasional mood swing. I’m fussy about what I eat. I hate going to the airport 5 hours early and I hate waiting for taxi’s and shuttles. I hate BAD customer service. What do you think so far?
Here’s the thing. I’m not looking for an EA right now but I look constantly for my clients, and I’ve seen and heard A LOT out there in the marketplace. If you want to be a great EA you really need to be proactive and resourceful. Thinking on your feet is an understatement, so when someone I am representing asks me for directions to get somewhere, or for an address, or for a good parking lot, I really have to take pause and wonder! But you’re the EA… I’m thinking. Look up the address on the website, then google the directions from your starting point, then find a City lot or street parking. There are websites for that. So, yes, I’m still wondering???? Will you be my EA? Not likely! Will you be an EA to the guy who throws staplers when he gets frustrated? Not likely, unless you’re up for a head injury.
Show your stuff during the interview process. Be the best you can be…at all times. We know you can!

So you think you’re a Recruiter?

Why do so many people think they can hang out a shingle proclaiming they are a “professional” recruiter? Here’s my take on this! Most people have no idea how much work goes into a professional search. There are many moving pieces, expenses, compliance and legal issues and relationships to stay on top of. We have rent to pay like everyone else. We also pay software costs to protect our candidate and client info. We need to have a solid understanding of the marketplace, the industries and the cities we work in.

Connecting an Executive with the right Assistant will affect both of their lives for a long period of time so it is important to have all of their needs in mind when matching them up. We may send a select few for interviews but that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen triple the amount of people to narrow it down to the best “fit”. So, the next time you see, “send us your resume”, check out where it’s landing. Some associations and networking organizations do not have the HRIS in place to protect your identity or the confidentiality of your application. Who knows where your resume may land, right back in the hands of your boss or one of his direct reports?

It’s a complicated business that requires years of experience and training to get the best results.

BCC:…The Way to Go!

This is a protocol that is basic, but prudent.  If you are sending your resume out en masse, don’t just cc anyone and everyone you can find on the internet with your resume and press send.  Do I want to be included with 20 other agencies on an email?  No I do not!  It doesn’t make me rush to contact the individual, in fact, just the opposite.  The BCC tool is a beautiful thing.  You can put as many emails as you like and no one can see any of the other addresses.  I actually had one of the “Big 5” Banks respond to an RFP in a mass email once.  I could see all the other agencies that had RFP’d in one shot!  Totally inappropriate!  From then on I’ve had a real “thing” about it.  How to wrap it up in two words or less:   “good manners”.

I Assume you Intend to be in this Job for Life?

Why is it that when some people land a job they ask to be taken off all the distribution lists they were on when they were actively seeking a job? In this economy can they be certain they are going to be a “lifer”? This is really short sighted! If you want to be removed from Indeed or Workopolis I can understand. They send a volume of emails for jobs that may not be relevant on a daily basis. However, staying on the “radar” with a focused recruitment agency can pay off down the road. We always appreciate it if people pass our Job Alerts along to others as well. If you’re not looking why not share potential opportunities with friends or colleagues who are? Networking and learning should be on-going in any career. Don’t live in a one-job bubble because when the bubble bursts you’ll have nowhere to start looking and no contacts to reach out to.

Why No Voice Mail?

I cannot stress this enough!!  If you are looking for new opportunities you have to make yourself “reachable”.  If I have to chase after people who say on their resumes that they are organizational wizards and extremely tech savvy; then their phone just rings and rings and rings, I have to wonder?  If you are actively seeking employment go crazy and spend the $5.00/month to add voice mail to your phone, or even better….answer it!

Don’t Kill The Messenger…

When you work with a Professional Recruiter be cognizant that we DO NOT make the final decision.  It is our job to screen, interview, make appropriate introductions, provide consulting services, and perform due diligence. We do not, and cannot, choose an EA or PA for a President or CEO. This would be like an arranged marriage; really a gamble whether it will work out. The relationship between an Executive and his EA is a very personal one. If there is not trust there, there will definitely not be a successful business partnership. So please keep in mind that if you are not chosen as a successful candidate don’t kill the messenger.  We are just a guide to the process.  If you send us an angry response that blames us or paints us in a bad light chances are we won’t present you for other roles as they come available.

Interviewing, you must find a way!

How are you going to change jobs if you can’t interview?  If you’re working in Mississauga, but you want to work downtown be prepared to find the time for interviewing. Some employers require 4 or 5 meetings!  If you constantly turn down times and dates to meet with potential employers because you can’t leave work you are not going to make a move.  Save up a couple of vacation days or time in lieu of OT.  If you really want to go you’ll make it work.

Excuse my French…

A lot of people tend to mention a second language on their resume. This is of benefit, UNLESS, they are not fluent in that language and wouldn’t feel comfortable using it in a business setting. If the language was spoken at home and you are fluent in the spoken word but not comfortable writing, indicate this on the resume. If I ask someone if they are bilingual in French and they say “I took a little bit in high school”, I have to wonder why they have put French on the resume. If you can’t use it…lose it.

Make Sure the Carpet Matches the Drapes….What’s in your Online Profile?

Does your online profile match what is included in your resume?  Don’t delude yourself into thinking that recruiters are not using every tool they have at their disposal to research those candidates they are considering for a face to face interview.  Interviewing face to face uses valuable time and resources, and the costs just keep rising.  Corporations are also using social media in their background screening and security checks.  You can be declined even after being offered a position if they find anything online that would be derogatory in nature to their company.  This includes radical political views, religious views, nudity of course, or anything they think may reflect badly on their firm.  I’ve seen it happen, and it’s unnecessary if you follow a few simple guidelines.

Recently I have had to address this issue with quite a few candidates.  I have their resume in hand and have reviewed it.  My next step is usually to see if they have a LinkedIn profile.  We look at the details of this profile to see if it matches the resume.  This includes discrepancies in dates of employment, employers that don’t show up on the resume at all, education, and the head shot.  If the stars are not aligned on all these points this is a big red flag for us!

Make sure that your LinkedIn Profile exactly matches all of the information in your resume, and keep it current.  Also, do NOT use headshots that are:

  • You on vacation in a bathing suit
  • You in a floppy hat with a cocktail in your hand
  • You striking a sexy pose
  • You standing in your bedroom or bathroom
  • Wearing sunglasses
  • From 25 years ago and so “Photoshopped” that you are unrecognizable upon meeting you in person ie Oprah on the cover of “O” every month.  How she loses 100 lbs every time she gets her picture taken is a miracle!

I have seen all of these things.  Pretty unbelievable, but TRUE!  In the age of the “selfie” don’t be tempted to put up every picture of yourself.  Save it for your “non-public” Facebook page.  As I have learned over the past year or so, I can also see people in my “people pane” in Outlook in LinkedIn or on Facebook.  You need to turn this functionality on, but once you do you’d be surprised what comes into your inbox.   Just something else to keep in mind….

Once you’re on the internet it is all fair game, and really who isn’t today?  Big brother is watching, and if you’re seeking employment or just open to opportunities, you really need to be cognizant that “the carpet matches the drapes”.