Did you know that, according to some psychologists, first impressions are usually formed within 7-17 seconds? Just think about that for a minute. If you make a good, positive impression you can reap the benefits ten-fold; but if you make a bad first impression it’s gone forever and you can’t hit the undo button.

What do your email communications say about you? What image are you portraying to recruiters?

Here are my 11 tips to improve your professionalism through your email communications:

1) 9 out of 10 emails that I receive through Aussie Resumes contain spelling errors. Given the technology available to you, and the fact that you can check and correct your document at the push of a button, having spelling errors in your email is inexcusable. This can be flagged as a ‘lack of attention to detail’ by recruiters and, worse, demonstrates a nonchalant attitude. Do you really want recruiters thinking you don’t care about THEIR image when you communicate to their clients? After all, the majority of roles require written communication in one form or another.

2) Don’t leave it to a spell checker. Once you’ve checked your email with the spell check, read through your email. For instance, if your document reads “Fro your records I have attached…” the spell checker isn’t going to pick up on your mistake. In this example given, the word “fro” (as opposed to “for”) is correct. Better still, if your spell checker has the functionality, opt for a grammatical check, in addition to a spell check, as most of these errors will be picked up.

3) If the job advert contains an individual’s name, then use it in your email. Don’t use Dear Sir / Madam when the advert clearly states to address applications to John Citizen. Your email will be perceived as a copy and paste of something generic.

4) When using someone’s name, ensure you address them formally. For instance, if the contact’s name is John Citizen, then don’t start your email with “Dear John”. It should read “Dear Mr Citizen”.

5) Double check and then double check again the correct spelling of the contact’s name.

6) Send your email from a professional email address. If you don’t use an email from your ISP (eg: example@bigpond.com), then consider an account with gmail instead of hotmail or yahoo.

7) Ensure a professional username as part of your email address. An email address such as prettypinky@hotmail.com may be fine when emailing your friends, but what impression are you giving to a recruiter? Where possible, include your name in your email address; but something which is easy to remember and catchy. If your last name is hard to spell or remember, then consider omitting it from your email address. I would recommend you don’t have email addresses with heaps of numbers in it – eg: johncitizen0349877@hotmail.com.  If your name is already taken, get creative.  As an example: employdave@gmail.com or project-manager-dave@gmail.com

8) Don’t just copy and paste your cover letter into the email and think that will do. You only need a very brief message; attach the cover letter as a file.

9) Include the name of the position in the email, as well as a job reference number if provided.

10) Is your subject boring? Either be professional or do something different which stands you out from the hundreds of other emails sitting in their inbox. The subject is the first thing they see – along with your email address. For instance, don’t state something like “Resume attached” or “Here is my application” or “Please find my resume attached for the application you recently advertised, please consider me.” The subject shouldn’t be too long so they can read everything you are saying. Examples of the right way to do it include: “John Citizen: XYZ Vacancy” or, if you’re game enough “I’m the ‘Job Title’ you’re looking for”.  You get the picture 🙂  But a caveat here: some adverts may ask you to state something in particular in the subject line – ensure you follow their instructions to the letter.

11) Lastly, dare to be bold. Put your own unique personality into the email – but do so in a professional manner. There are numerous approaches you can take to stand out from the crowd before they even get to your application; if you’re willing to try something a little different (and as long as you feel it is appropriate for the type of position you are applying for). Do some research on the Internet for marketing and copywriting tips to get some ideas on how you incorporate some snazzy headlines (subject) and content into your email.

Remember, your email is the first impression the recruiter makes of you BEFORE they open your application. You can have the best, super duper resume and cover letter in the world, but if you don’t take the time and steps to ensure a good first impression via your email, it may not make any difference in the world.

Happy job hunting! 🙂