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Responding to job opportunities online requires patience and creativity, as the process can become boring and tedious. To keep your replies from reading like a template, re-write each introduction or cover letter specifically for the job to which you're applying. Strike a tone that is professional, confident and interesting; even though it's a virtual introduction, this is your only chance to make a first impression.
Before composing the email, double check the job description to make sure the position is the best match for your skill set and experience. Read each opportunity carefully, and respond only to the jobs you’re confident you can perform well. Even if you’re tempted to blur your boundaries because the search has been going on a little long, stick to what you know.
Maintain Your Public Profile
Check your social media accounts before replying so your online profile matches your professional persona. According to a 2011 ABC news article by Jeff Farnham, a company called Social Intelligence, located in Santa Barbara, CA, conducts Internet background checks for employers looking for info on job candidates. These checks are compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If this is evidence of a future trend, it means job seekers have to know their private profiles could incur public repercussions.
Shenise Cook, Organizational Development Specialist at Chicago State University in metropolitan Chicago, says you must send your message from a professional-sounding email address. “Do not use an email address not fit for a job,” she warns. For best results, she recommends using an email with your full name, or your first initial and last name. “If your email address matches the name on your application and resume, there is also a better chance that we will remember you,” Cook says.
Addressing the Email
The email must be sent to the right person, and you have to spell that person's name correctly, Cook says. If that information isn’t readily available on the job announcement, take a few minutes to call the company and find out specifically to whom your email should be sent. Sending an email with a generic salutation like, ‘Dear Sir or Madam,’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern,’ may work, but it should be a last resort.
Body of the Email
Follow instructions carefully when composing the body of your email, Cook says. Some employers will ask you to attach a resume and a page-long cover letter; others will ask you to attach the resume and nothing else. If you aren't asked for a separate cover letter, use the body of the email to make a brief impression. Take a paragraph to introduce yourself, and give a quick overview of the experiences that make you a good candidate. "If you want us to read your email, keep it kind of short," Cook says. "When we've got a lot of applications coming in, it's hard to read long letters." On the subject of signing off, Cook says you must make sure any automatic signature is appropriate for the job. If it's not, she says it's up to you to take it out before you send the email.
Read the email out loud to yourself to ensure it sounds the way you intended, Cook says. She also recommends having someone else look over your document, in addition to doing a spell and grammar check. "Spell check does not catch everything,” she says.