oh, how far we’ve come.
Monthly Archives: February 2009
recently i’ve received several e-mails/messages asking for advice regarding job searches and interviews from people i’ve never met, and frankly, am quite surprised at the quality of messages/e-mails coming through.
granted i am more than happy to help out and feel semi-flattered that people would even think/consider me as having some sort of “expertise” in this, it’s been pretty amazing to see the lack of professionalism and courtesy in many of these messages. rather than thinking of these e-mails or inquiries as separate from the job search process, think of them as an addendum — who knows, perhaps the person you’re e-mailing may know of another opportunity that would fit your interests and background. leaving a good professional impression never hurts.
first off, i have no obligation to help you, and demanding my help with “i have an interview; give me the answers” type of e-mails will not engender the best feelings of good-will. especially since i’ve never met you and have no idea who you are, what you’re about, and what your qualifications are.
instead, ask. politely.
secondly, if i’ve never met you, tell me a little bit about yourself. it’s very hard to give you advice if i don’t know anything about you and your specific needs (needing answers to interview questions does not count as specific information).
with that, here’s what i think would make for a good “please help me with more information” e-mail:
1) who are you and where would the person you’re e-mailing know you from?
are/were you part of the same group? twitter? google …? some kind of context.
2) what are you looking for and how does it fit into your background and interests?
provide details like major (when applicable), general career interests, past experiences — no need for a life story but a couple sentences help.
3) how can the person you’re contacting help?
keep in mind that whomever you’re e-mailing won’t be able to give you all the answers to your upcoming interview; rather what they can give you is an idea of what they do, what kind of general questions you may expect.
it’s also your responsibility to let them know how they can help, and not have them guess.
4) close with a thank you, contact info, and a timeline.
when do you need the information by? keep in mind this might not work with the person you’re e-mailing’s schedule, but it helps to give them an idea of the time frame you’d like some information by, and at least the opportunity to try and accommodate.
and don’t forget to say a simple thanks (maybe i’m old fashioned but if you’re going to ask a stranger for a favor, a simple ‘thank you’ never hurts).
in short, be polite, clear, considerate, and professional (which also means using spell-check).