Before You Hit “Send” on That Employment Inquiry

Posted by on Apr 26, 2012 in CHI Contemplation
Tags: public relations, integrated marketing communications, pr tips, pr, resume tips, career tips


As the owner of a small business, I often receive several unsolicited job inquiries each day, many from recent or soon-to-be graduates. I usually take at least a quick look at all inquiries--even if we don't have an opening--but I know from networking and business forums I participate in that most owners don't do that. I also know that owners and executives in larger businesses receive even more inquiries than we do--and they tend to have HR people who only pass along the strongest candidates.

Today, I received an inquiry from a young person that arrived with the subject header “Employment.” Her cover “message” (It didn’t rise to the standard of a cover letter) said only:


I was emailing in regards to possible employment with your company!
I have attached my resume, please let me know if there is a potential fit.


Give prospective employers a reason not to hit “delete”

This made me wince because it was destined for many reasons to hit the electronic recycle bin before most prospective employers bothered to open the resume, which also needed help. This is why I’d like to share a few constructive suggestions with job seekers like this young woman who are trying to get a foothold in the career of their choosing.

To get the attention of busy people and make yourself stand out, take these steps:

  • Hook the reader with your subject line -- tell me in a few words why I need to open your e-mail. "Employment" doesn't do it.
  • Make your e-mail cover message compelling. Did you spend any time on the prospective employer's website before sending your resume? Did you learn something about their company that will help you tell them why you are a great fit for their company rather than asking the recipient to look and see if you are a "potential fit"? Put what you learned to work, and tailor your message to that employer. As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Wow them with your e-mail cover message.
  • Say what you are interested in doing. Her “objective statement” said, “To add value and impact to an organization by leveraging my skills in working with people, creativity, visual communication, leadership, planning, and coordinating resources, and to gain experience that will continue to develop my skills.” There are lots of words there, and I appreciate that she wants to “add value and impact,” but I honestly had no idea from her e-mail message, this objective statement or the rest of her resume what type of work she was interested in doing--graphic design, broadcast journalism, writing or public relations.
  • The cover letter should also tell the employer if you are seeking a full-time or part-time position and summer/temporary vs. long-term employment. For soon-to-be graduates, your cover letter and/or resume should also indicate when you expect to graduate.
  • If you have done work you're proud of, such as graphic design work or writing, provide a link to work samples or an online portfolio.

Best of luck in your career pursuit.

Jane Cooper, President
Cooper Hong Inc.

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