Communication Breakdown – Don’t Let your Email Hinder your Job Prospects

Emails. There is no getting away from them. Log onto your laptop and they are there waiting for you. Pull out your smartphone and your inbox is accessible with a couple of taps of your finger. Emails from friends. Emails from family. From ebay. From Facebook informing you about friend requests. From scammers trying to prize your bank details away from you. Emails have become as much a fixture in daily life as breakfast.

It occurred to me while catching up with my emails on the train home yesterday that the vast majority of the students I work with will not remember a time before email was commonplace. It is something they have grown up with and is completely natural to them. And yet for some students, poor use of email can be a hindrance in looking for placements and internships.

Here are some tips to follow when making applications.

Choose your email address wisely


You can spend hours putting together an amazing CV, but that could all be for nothing if you have given an unprofessional sounding email address in your contact details at the top of the first page. First impressions do count, so opt for something simple rather than a funky email address to amuse your friends. JoeBloggs@gmail  looks much better than SloppyJoe@hotmail.


Beat the spam filter
A nice tidy email address will also help you here. If you want an employer to read


your CV or application, don’t let it get caught up in their spam box. A sensible email address, along with a clear subject line should do the job. A blank subject line is likely to trigger the spam filter so be sure to put the title of the job you are applying for, or follow the instructions laid out in the job description.

Fill the void
When a job spec tells you to send your CV off to a certain address, it can be tempting to do just that and nothing more. Don’t. A blank email with a CV attached not only passes on the opportunity to start a dialogue with the recruiter, but also demonstrates a poor level of communication skills. As a bare minimum, include a brief cover note to inform the recruiter of who you are, where you study and what position you are applying for. Indicate that your application can be found attached and that you look forward to discussing this further.

Keep attachments simple


Students studying creative courses such as Design or Music may wish to include a portfolio of their work as part of their application, to showcase their talents to employers. There is nothing wrong with this, and in some industries you are unlikely to be considered for interview without one. Just be careful about what you send to an employer, as bulky attachments will either clog up quota space, or see your email pushed into the spambox. A link on your CV to an online portfolio is therefore encouraged, instead of sending large documents.

These may seem like pretty obvious things to do, but it is not uncommon to find students tripping themselves up by failing to stick to the basics of email communications.

About the author


ThePlacementOfficer works at a well known British University, helping students to gain valuable work experience through sandwich placements. TPO is author of the 'Tales from the Placement Office' blog and tweets from @placementblog.