Tips for Using Email in the Job Search

Email is evolving as a medium for communication in the job search process. There are few absolute rules, and the best idea is to use your judgment and default to a more conservative use of email correspondence. The following are some tips to guide you in the process.

Use a professional account name.

Your e-mail account name should convey a professional image. Using 'cyberbabe' or 'lawyerking' is inappropriate. Using '' or your WCL email account is acceptable.

Don't forget the attachments!!

If you refer to an attached cover letter and resume in an e-mail, remember to attach the promised documents. Give an appropriate title to each document sent to an employer. Make sure no documents have viruses, do a scan before sending. Most employers recommend that attachments be sent in Microsoft Word or RTF format.

Avoid casual speech in the text of the email.

When emailing prospective employers, steer clear of the casual and informal dialogue you may use when emailing friends. Never use emoticons or ALL caps to convey tone, and avoid acronyms like 'BTW'. Always address the recipient using a professional salutation such as 'Dear Mr. Smith.'

Be cautious about emailing thank you letters.

The protocol for using email for certain types of correspondence between legal employers and applicants is still evolving. Although some email thank you letters are acceptable, some employers still express a preference for handwritten or typed thank you letters. If you are uncertain about whether an employer is e-friendly, stick to using hard copy!

Pay attention to employers' preferences when sending application materials.

Unless they specifically request otherwise, many employers still prefer to receive application material via regular mail or fax rather then email. Employers are concerned about viruses, unusual document programs and formatting problems. Make sure that if the employer asks for an emailed resume that it is scanable.

Avoid mass mailings.

Avoid the temptation to send out resumes and cover letters to a host of recipients. Email makes mass mailing easy, but employers generally take offense at this practice and will quickly delete 'To Whom It May Concern' emails. When emailing an employer, make each email personal and state your interest in that specific employer.