Having an impressive resume and great portfolio can get you in the door with many software companies, but one thing can easily disqualify you — sending an unprofessional email.
Employers will sometimes look the other way when it comes to a bad online profile picture or a weak portfolio, but unprofessional emails can be a huge red flag to recruiters — and could make them disregard your application completely.
At Microverse, throughout our curriculum, students work to prepare for interviews, landing jobs, and starting their career as a remote software developer. So I wanted to share a few of our top tips so that you can get closer to landing your dream job too.
Communicating with potential employers demands a serious attitude and an excellent first impression.
Unfortunately, one of the most common mistakes that can ruin your first impression is using an unprofessional email address.
Maybe you created your email when you were younger, or you chose your address to be funny. When applying to jobs, take the time to create a new email address that won’t cause your email to come off as unprofessional or immature.
When you create a new email address, stick to gmail.com or the domain of your personal website, and avoid numbers. While a bit silly, I’ve met hiring managers that completely disregard applications from emails like “JohnDoe84@hotmail.com”.
Example: Create and use “email@example.com” instead of “JohnTheDestroyerOfWorlds@hotmail.com”.
In terms of creating a good first impression over email, the subject line you use is as important as your email address.
A good subject line should be concise and inform what the message is about. While you might be excited, avoid being overly eager and trying to cram too much in.
Example: use “Interest in Ruby Developer position” instead of “Please respond. Following up about the Ruby job I applied for last week and haven’t heard back about”
You should communicate with potential employers much differently than your close friends.
As a simplified rule when writing potential employers: use “Dear” to begin emails and “Best” to close them.
Depending on how much you know about the person, you can alter the salutation to something like “Dear Human Resources Manager” “Dear Jane Doe” or “Dear Ms. Doe”. In general, address the reader using gender-neutral terms to avoid potentially awkward situations, and if you don’t know who you’re emailing, use “To Whom It May Concern” until you do.
Once you’ve established a relationship with the person, you can switch to something as simple as “Hi Jane”.
Example: use “Dear John Smith,” instead of “Sup John,”
Long, flowing emails can take up much more of a reader’s time than short, concise emails. To show that you respect the reader’s time and come off as a professional, write short paragraphs and get to the point.
Unless you’re asked to provide more information or you’ve already exchanged several emails, as a rule of thumb, limit your first emails with a potential employer to 150 words or fewer.
Emojis are too casual and take away from the seriousness of the communication. Capital letters make it seem like you’re angry. Excessive exclamation marks come off as shouting!!!
Don’t use any of them.
Example: Use “I’d be grateful to have an opportunity to work at Acme Co.” instead of, “I’d LOVE to have the opportunity to work at Acme Co.!!!! :)”
Potential employers can forgive occasional spelling and grammar errors, but consistent errors show laziness and a lack of professionalism, especially with all of the tools available to check your writing.
Example: Correct “I was gonna continue my finance career but I choose to become a dev instead” to “I was going to continue my finance career, but I chose to become a software developer instead.”
If you’ve come far enough in your journey as a software developer that you've interested a potential employer, you don't want to ruin your chances by sending an unprofessional email.
Bookmark this article and refer to it any time you’re emailing a potential employer. These tips can help change the next response you receive from, “Thank you for your interest, but the position has been filled” to, “We’d like to make you a job offer.”
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