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E-mail and Job Search Etiquette

Ashling McWilliam for local2 sault ste. marie
November 4th, 2011 at 1:04pm

This article is a column or editorial.
The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of LOCAL2.


I recently overheard a story about a young woman who was applying to a master’s of science program. If you’ve ever gone through this sort of application process you know what kind of stress she was under. Application forms, reference letters, deadlines, letters of intent, different standards depending on which school and what their requirements were.

hand shakeShe was applying to every university across Canada and her papers were strewn everywhere across her living room floor. This was her third year applying and she was using the same references as in past years. One of her three references was a past professor from her Undergraduate program. After a few months, she again received rejection letters from all of these universites.

She couldn’t understand it, she had everything these universities were asking for, and more. Feeling frustrated, she decided to rip open an extra reference letter she had from her professor, only to find that he had given her a bad reference! For the past 3 years Jane had been busting her butt distributing applications that were directly resulting in the immediate rejection of her application.

The purpose of this story is to explain to you that it is perfectly reasonable to ask someone who can attest to your abilities for a reference. Furthermore, if you have any doubts about what kind of reference you may be getting, ASK. Simply enquire, “Will you be providing me with a positive reference?” Usually that is enough to strike up an honest, straightforward conversation. Remember, work, educational and personal references need to uphold their reputations and therefore will likely provide others with their honest opinion, whatever that may be.


It is also important to use proper e-mail etiquette. Don’t send an e-mail without first doing your research. Asking questions that can be easily answered by some simple research will make you look lazy and unresourceful. It also looks bad if you claim to have “excellent research skills” on your resume when you’ve asked a question that could have been answered by reading their “About Us” page.

The worst thing do to is send an e-mail that says, “I’m not sure if this is the right person to send this e-mail to, but I`m hoping you could forward this on….” DON’T HOPE! Just get it right the first time. Do your research and then explain why you contacted them specifically. “You were listed as the Human Resource contact for DY Financial institution`s Job Fair and I am writing to…….”

If an employer e-mails you, then you can respond by e-mail, however be sure to read the e-mail sent to you and follow all instructions. Cara from DY Financial may have e-mailed you, but instructed you to fill out a form on their website and then contact Heidi Dubé in the Communications Department. It`s important to read over these e-mails more than once to verify the WHO/WHAT/WHERE/WHEN/HOW.

When you are sending out applications by e-mail, stick to a specific subject line, such as, General Labourer Job Quote # 245601. Providing a general subject line with titles like; information or please read are redundant because really, every e-mail contains information and is meant to be read. By specifically providing the position title and job quote number you are making their job easier.


E-mailing thank you notes after interviews isn’t a bad thing. In fact in can be beneficial, because if it is going to be a quick decision, or if the employer travels quite a bit they will receive it much faster. If possible, also send a hard copy by snail mail right after the interview. This demonstrates initiative and organization. Thanking someone for his or her time is always a respectful action and, sometimes, might put you head and shoulders above your competition. At the very least, it will leave the potential employer with a positive impression of you.

If you ever need help with an online application form feel free to come on down to the Sault Community Career Centre and ask any of our helpful resource staff for advice!


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