Hey Google! Hey Micosoft! A Fix Please

Last week I discovered that Google and Microsoft have changed their requirements for creating an email address. They now insist on a user to include their phone number or a secondary email address. So if you have no other email to add and cannot afford the luxury of a cell phone, you effectively cannot create an email. In short, Google and Microsoft would appear to be excluding the poor from communicating digitally in 2019.

As an Employment Counsellor working with those in receipt of social assistance, I find myself instructing 12 recipients in the basics of computers. One of the key reasons we include such a course where I work is to empower these people with email so they can communicate for both pleasure and professionally. As most of you know, employer’s are insisting potential applicants apply online for the jobs they need to fill, thus learning to use the computer to construct resumes and apply online is critically important.

So imagine my surprise when I had all 12 create a professional address and we couldn’t circumnavigate the phone number requirement. I mean yes, I could have had them put in my work email, but then I’d either have to be the one to get verification emails moving forward on their behalf, or then show them how to change the email to a secondary one later on, overly complicating what should be a simple process.

Listen up Google; listen up Microsoft: not all the poor can afford cell phones. Your new policies are effectively denying them access to what is now a basic communication tool. I’m hoping your intent was good and just not well thought out.

This weekend I felt it ironic as I googled, ‘make an email without a phone’. The solution it gave me was to use Google Chrome and go incognito mode (this is great for those experiencing paranoia by the way) then bypass the phone field and lie about one’s age making the person under 15 years old. Apparently the big boys assume 15 and under users don’t have their own cell phones. Today all the people in my class are going to revert back to being young teens. But should we have to do this?

Now of course I’ll have to tell the people I’m teaching that in order to recover any lost email access, they’ll have to remember this fictitious date of birth too. When they write down their password and email, now they’ll also need to record their made up date of birth. I think algorithms are going to be skewed in the future when more and more people say they were born on January 1 2006. Hey, am I becoming a hacker? No, not in the sense I’m trying to sabotage a system. I’m just trying to work around a problem; a problem that shouldn’t exist.

So Microsoft and Google, I’m hoping my readers pass on my blog today to their own audiences until it reaches your attention and you address this problem of your making.

I’m open to being wrong on this one too. As I stood in the classroom with 12 people looking at me as the computer instructor – oh and with a College placement student equally lost and frustrated at trying to get a workaround on the spot, maybe I missed something. I didn’t though. The phone field is mandatory unless you have a secondary email. Someone learning how to use the computer for the first time who taps the keys with one finger and takes an introduction to computers class just doesn’t have a secondary email though.

So, on behalf of the poor, I’m advocating for you two as leaders in the tech world to get it right. Which one of you – Google or Microsoft – will amend it first and get it right?

Those living in poverty often can’t afford cell phone plans on top of paying rent, buying food and getting around. Those that do have phones often have no time on their phones or very little on their data plans. Most don’t have personal computers or laptops and those that do often can’t afford the internet. So they resort to libraries, community resource centres and the generosity of friends when they do go online.

To reach financial independence and break free of poverty, they need jobs. To get a job, one must apply online, do internet research, attach a resume to an email; you get the point. This digital world we live in has to include everyone. Most of us who are computer literate don’t fully appreciate how fortunate we are to have these basic skills. We take for granted the ability to go online, email and have conversations with distant family and friends.

Like I said, educate me and inform me of my misinterpretation of your phone/previous email requirements. How does one without either actually create an email and join in on the digital world?

This isn’t about me shaming anyone, but it is about calling you out on this practice and asking you politely to be accountable. LOVE to get not just an explanation of your motives, but rather a drop in the mandatory phone field. Get back to making it optional.

Until resolved, there’s going to be a lot of 15 year old and younger new users, suddenly exploding onto the digital world.

The impoverished already feel marginalized and excluded, and Google and Microsoft…for all your billions of dollars, you’re both better than that.

Think What Your Email Address Says About You

When applying for jobs, many people take great care to hide their age on their resumes, and for good reason. They’ll go out of their way to omit jobs pre-2000, decline to add the year they graduated from high school, College or even University if it’s going to make it easier for an employer to figure out how old they are by doing some simple addition. All that effort is lost however if their email addresses contain the year they were born.

I see this time and time again in my position as an Employment Counsellor. Just yesterday, I spoke at the tail-end of a workshop on interview skills about this. When I asked what her email address was, she told me her first and last name plus the number 60. “Are you 57 years old by any chance?” I asked her. To this she looked at me somewhat surprised and confirmed I was correct. “How did you guess that?” she asked. “You told me yourself by including your birth year in your email”, I replied, and then the light of realization switched on.

The thing is a lot of people include their age in their emails. They’ll either put the year of their birth or their actual age. Having several times watched people attempt to create their email using their name only, I know that computers will often suggest various email addresses which are available, and they almost always include a number. Don’t allow a computer to randomly suggest an email address for you that you’re then going to let represent you! That kind of random generation might be okay for your phone number, but not your email.

Unfortunately giving your age away isn’t the only problem I find in emails. There’s the inappropriate sexy ones, the childish ones, the nonsense ones, and downright insulting ones. None of these I’ll give examples of, so just use your imagination. It never ceases to make me wonder how serious a person is about their job search when they preface telling me what their email is with the statement, “I know it’s not very professional; I should change it probably, but I’ve had it for a long time.”

Okay so enough with making the case for what not to have, here’s suggestions for what it could or should be.

My first suggestion is to begin with either the word, “contact” or “call” followed by your first name and last. In my case it would be, contactkellymitchell@ or callkellymitchell@. If your full name is too long or is already taken, try a period between your first and last name, or your first initial and last name such as callkelly.mitchell@ or contactk.mitchell@

As the person at the receiving end silently reads your email address at the top of the résumé, they cannot help read the words, “contact” or “call”, and aren’t these the very actions you want them to take? You want to be called or contacted by the employer with the offer of an interview. Your suggesting the action to them just by reading your email address alone. Not too many have caught on to this strategy yet so get yours while the getting is good.

Another strategy I suggest is reserved exclusively for those people who are committed to looking for one career. So take me for example. I want to brand myself on those I meet as Kelly Mitchell Employment Counsellor. So my email address is employmentcounsellorkelly@gmail.com Yes it’s a little long, but easily remembered. The email address includes my job title and my name; the two are now linked together creating the lasting connection.

If a PSW, you could opt for PSWjillwhyte@ or j.whyteyourpsw@ Get the idea? The only drawback with this email address comes if you should then start applying for jobs that are similar in nature but use different titles. A Personal Support Worker might apply for jobs as a Health Care Aide, Personal Care Provider etc. and the like, and while having PSW in the email wouldn’t be entirely inappropriate, there are cases where you might want to switch things up entirely and look outside your typical field and your email wouldn’t work. So a PSW now applying for a job as an Office Receptionist might hurt rather than help her chances by using PSW as part of an email address.

The first suggestion I made, using the words, “contact” or “call” don’t present this problem. You could use these indefinitely and for a variety of employment applications across any sectors. So my overall suggestion is when applying for employment, turn exclusively to using an email that either prompts action on the part of the receiver or brands yourself with your occupation.

Continue to use your existing emails for friends and family; your social address. Create and use a professional email reserved only for employment applications, running your business, or professional networking. By keeping the two mutually exclusive and not using your job hunting email for anything but looking for work, you’ll also avoid cluttering up your inbox with spam and junk mail. This means you’ll likely never miss seeing some important reply from an employer and mistaking it for your horoscope, dating website or those large sums of money just waiting for you to claim from some lawyer representing a person in another country!


What Does Your Email Address Communicate?

One of the most fundamental things you’re going to do when looking for work is create an email address. One day in the future the email address will become antiquated and out of fashion; replaced by something more effective. Today however, it’s still highly used by many employer’s as a way to receive applications and communicate with applicants. Many online applications and websites demand you have one to apply for jobs and without one, you can’t.

So with respect to your email, what does yours say about you? Consider that this is going to appear at the top of your résumé; it’s going to be on a cover letter, and it’s certainly going to be what someone in the organization you hope to work for clicks on or manually enters digit by digit when they contact you. So are they going to think about what it is and what it says to them? You’d best believe it.

One of the worst things you can do is choose to use an email that has your age in it; be it your age when you created it or the year of your birth. Yet time and time again when I’m asked to give my opinion on someone’s resume, there it is. I’ll often ask someone if they think it’s a good idea to put their age on a résumé and typically the answer most of the time is a confident, “no”. I’ll reply then, “So why did you tell them you’re 47? This usually startles the person and they ask me, “Where did I put that?” and I’ll point out their email which says, “billsmith47@…”

Also a poor idea is to include a number which could be your birthday or age even though it isn’t. Anyone reading it won’t know what that number means to you but they’ll certainly be entitled to make that assumption. So 47 might be Bill’s house number or he was born on the 7th of April, but that’s not what most people are going to infer.

Very common too are the emails suggested by the computer software when you try to use an email already claimed by another person. You’ve seen I’m sure the ones where some random numbers follow some combination of your name or what you were trying to use. Why anyone would choose to allow a random email generating program to choose their personal email is beyond me. Well, that’s not true really; I know people use them out of frustration, or they simply don’t know better. Still, this is a bad choice my friend.

Finally, stay away – please! – from the cute or sexy email names. Do you want to be thought of as juvenile, over sexed, or just plain inappropriate? My all-time favourite for ridiculous was someone with the email that began, “fluffybunnykins@…” Fluffy bunnykins? That apparently was the email created for a woman by her mom when the woman was 12 years old. While cute, it didn’t fit the professional image this grown woman was going for. In the same vein, avoid things like, “sexyxoxo@”, spankme@”, “loveme69@”. I didn’t invent these, and they’re taken already. Sometimes I just shake my head.”

Alright already, enough with what NOT to do! Let’s move on to one of two different strategies that I would recommend.

The first strategy is good if you know exactly what it is your after job or career-wise. I’ll use myself here as an example. I’m an Employment Counsellor by profession. Aside from my day job where my employer dictates my email address, I also provide employment counselling services and job search help in my personal time. So the email I have is, “employmentcounsellorkelly@gmail.com” This email address BRANDS me by profession and now the email serves a dual purpose. Sure it’s how people get in contact with me but it also brands me and what I do. So if you’re a committed PSW you could be, “pswbriansmith@…” or “brianpswsmith@…”. Some version of the name and the job title embedded together is what you’re after.

The second strategy I use more and more isn’t so much about branding yourself by profession. This then is good for the kind of person who is looking for work in more than one line of work. It would be hard to brand yourself as a Personal Support Worker like the above when you’re also open to a job as an Office Administrative professional. That, “pswbriansmith@…” would only work for one of the jobs you’re after and send the wrong message for any other types.

So what to do? Consider what you want the employer to do when they receive your résumé. What you’re after of course is a call or contact in some way from the person arranging interviews to set one up. So why not say what you want right in your email? Consider, “callbriansmith@…” or “contactbrianqsmith@…” Adding the words, “call” or “contact” to your email has the effect of making the reader actually say to themselves a version of “I should call Brian Smith”. This is exactly what you’re hoping for in submitting your résumé.

Now while there’s nothing wrong with some version of your name only, as in “brian.q.smith@…” it’s pretty plain and straight forward. Nothing wrong as I say, but it’s not really DOING anything for you is it?

Your email might be something you’ve just taken for granted and never really thought much about. Think about it now!

Make Your Email WORK For You

How much thought did you put into your email when you created it? For many people, they tried to make their email only to find that someone else on the planet already had it, and so they selected a computer generated one. The computer generated email no doubt contained some portion of the person’s original attempt and threw in some random number.

Now why on earth someone would choose to use a randomly chosen email is beyond me, unless of course the person isn’t thinking at all about what the email communicates; or fails to communicate.

Here we have hit upon one of the most significant differentiating things which define those who see an email address as just an email address, and those who see the email address as a chance to brand themselves. In other words, your email can actually market you to others, and to fail to recognize this is to miss an opportunity. Allow me to provide you with some concrete examples of both the good, the bad and the just plain and insignificant.

Let’s say your name is John Edward Brown; you’re looking for work as a Personal Support Worker and you want to create an email. I’ve intentionally selected a very common full name because the likelihood of finding that johnbrown@ etc. is still available is absolute zero. So you make the initial attempt and finds it fails. The platform being used, be it Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo etc. is going to say that gmail isn’t available and in order to expedite the process and keep you from being frustrated at the same time in further attempts, it suggests johnbrown238@, johnnbrown578@, etc.

Randomly selected, these could be misinterpreted by a potential employer in your job search as meaning you wer born on the 23rd of August, maybe May of 1978 etc. These are only marginally better than johnbrown1978@ which clearly suggests you wer born in 1978 and puts your age smack at the top of the resume; a major no-no.

Now of course you might be smart enough not to accept these computer generated emails, so let’s give you credit. Maybe you go for johnebrown@, john.e.brown@, j.ed.brown@ etc. These and other versions like them, certainly communicate a name without a number embedded in the email and that’s an improvement. There can be nothing revealed or suggested about your age or personal information like a birthday, and this also prevents some identity theft.

However, while the suggestions in the previous paragraph have their advantages over emails with numbers, they still aren’t saying anything about John Brown yourself in terms of the work you are identified with. What then if you thought about creating an email that both was devoid any prejudice and at the same time lent strength and identity to your personal brand?

Remember you; our hypothetical John Edward Brown are looking for work as a Personal Support Worker. If you chose an email such as PSWjohnebrown@ or iamjohnbrownpsw@, both your name and your career profession are embedded right in the email. Considering the location of the email at the top of your resume, it is one of the first few things the eye of the receiver sees and reads as they look at your resume.

In addition, whenever the employer clicks on your hyperlink to your email, or types in it manually addressing an email, they must associate you with your profession because it’s so visual.

A second option is to return to the whole point of having an email in the first place; you want someone to contact you. If then the point of your email on a resume or cover letter is to prompt action on the receivers part, you could opt for a different approach to constructing your personal email. This option works well when you are not specifically after one job or career only, or you are going for a job that might have different titles with different organizations.

So what is this second option? It’s choosing an email such as calljohnbrown@ as an example. This email address doesn’t label a profession, but it does state a desired action; a phone call. So if you were John Brown and you wanted to be a Personal Support Worker, but you knew sometimes the job is called, Health Care Aide, Support Worker, Personal Support Aide etc. you may want to have some flexibility with respect to your email address and not limit yourself to the single job title in the email address.

My suggestion is to also avoid the underscore in an email at all costs. john_brown@ may look good when there is no hyperlink embedded in the email, but as soon as the blue hyperlink underlines the entire email, the underscore disappears and appears to be a space in the email. Novices and those who give email a quick scan may actually type what they see and find their attempt to contact you is rejected. They may not bother to try a second time. How unfortunate. You can eliminate this remote possibility entirely by avoiding the underscore.

So there you have it; some ideas to help both yourself and others with your email address.

Your Job Application Says More Than You’d Think

Over the course of any given month, I’m scheduled to supervise a drop-in Resource Centre where people can come in and have use of a computer hooked up to the internet, photocopiers, fax machines, telephones and even get free paper and envelopes. While they take advantage of all the above, only seldom do they take advantage of the Employment Counsellor with years of experience there to help them.

Now if I went into a brake shop and there on the wall were a number of brake pads, grinders, rotors and a car hoist, I might be able to tinker away and eventually leave with something that may or may not stop my car on the road. However, if there was a licenced professional brake installer standing there just waiting to help me for the asking, wouldn’t I be much better off asking for his or her expertise? I’d like to improve my chances of stopping.

Unfortunately, many people think they can put together a job application. They usually see the cover letter as a lot of effort and don’t do one at all, or if they do, it broadcasts all kinds of things about the person who wrote it that the person is oblivious to and wouldn’t want known. And the resume? Sorry folks but resumes are usually poorly composed without some second opinion.

So take yesterday. I’m watching a guy photocopy a number of documents which, in my experience tends to be a resume. Just as he was finishing this, I engaged him in conversation. I asked him if he was doing a resume and he was. Then I asked him if his job search was going well or if he was pretty frustrated and got the answer I expected; frustrating. Next I took a chance and told him he was going about the job application process the way that worked way back in 1995.

You see anytime someone is making multiple copies of their resume, I know it’s not specifically targeted to a specific job and this same resume is going to be sent out to different employers. It will never match up the best for any job, because it’s going about things backwards. The first step isn’t to make a resume and then find a job, it’s to find a job and then make a resume. “A” resume, as in singular.

Now as it turns out, he was pretty cautious about me looking over his resume. Most people I speak with out of the blue who don’t know me in the Resource Centre open up immediately and accept my invitation to look over their resume or cover letter and give them some advice. Others like this fellow are more guarded and I change my approach with them.

Here’s something I find pretty basic yet I see more often than I’d like. At the top of the resume I almost always see the person’s name. There is nothing else on the first line, just the name. That makes sense to me. You wouldn’t for example put, “Name:” to the left of your name because it’s obvious right? So then why is it some people will put the word, “Email:” and the beside it put their email address? Isn’t that obvious too? If someone can’t figure out what your email address is just by looking at it, then putting the word, “Email” just before it probably won’t help either. And the same goes with the phone number. Just put the number without announcing it’s a phone number. The employer is smart enough to run a business and can probably identify a phone number without you pointing it out.

In the case of the person I was speaking with, he sheepishly grinned a bit when I pointed this out, and a connection was starting. I could see the first glimmer of his trust forming. What he was really doing was visibly showing me that he recognized he had something to learn from me. Now he asked me for more.

And let’s be honest here. Resume Experts and Job Coaches don’t know everything about everything. If the person leaning against the wall watching me install my brakes came over and pointed out something I didn’t catch at first, I’d certainly ask them for pointers too. But even in the job searching industry, no one person knows everything, least of all me. Things change and so does the job application process.

He asked me if I could guarantee I could get him a job with a resume and I said that I couldn’t. For a moment he almost reverted to his original protectiveness, but he didn’t retreat all the way. I pointed out that the objective here wasn’t to get a job at all, it was to get an interview. The resume was really just one tool needed to get an interview that would be the next step in landing a job. The better the resume the more the odds swing in his favour.

This column is way too short to tell you how to make an exceptional resume. And this post isn’t an advertisement to drum up business for myself. The point is this: Get your brakes installed by a professional, or do it yourself only after having been instructed by a professional. Likewise, get your job application (cover letter and resume, social media profile etc.) looked over by a professional in the Job Coaching/Employment business. Then you’ll be skilled enough to do it on your own with a good chance of success.

They Want My Money OR Want To Give Me Theirs

I’m pretty sure that somewhere I’ve won a lottery or contest of some sort; that itself is unusual because I don’t buy lottery tickets. The number of people who are asking me for money is growing at an alarming frequent rate and I suspect you similarly might be affected.

This week, (and it’s only Tuesday), I’ve learned that the energy supplier I subscribe to has decided to raise what they charge by 40% due to a lot of heat being used by homeowners this winter. Uh, this is Canada an in the winter it gets chilly. How unfortunate that the weather didn’t follow the schedule the provider forecasted in terms of the fuel homeowners would require this winter. I went home and lowered the thermostat.

This morning I heard that the three large cell phone providers in Ontario have simultaneously raised their rates by $5.00 for new subscribers. Now there’s fines for collusion, but the three companies have denied doing this, they just all happened to make the same announcement quoting the same increases, for the same new clients. Were I to start with a cell phone plan, I’d be hit with this.

When I filled up my little SMART CAR this morning, it was quite low on fuel, and I paid $42.25 for gas – the most I’ve ever paid to fill it up. The guy who took my money was smiling, laughing, and overall quite merry, and I couldn’t help but feel he enjoyed doing his job of filling my car at 6:40a.m. But gas I need, money I pay.

From time-to-time I get phone calls from various organizations or someone knocking on the door asking for a donation to a cause; the cause being any one of a large number that if you weren’t being asked to provide money you would agree is a good one. But when you’re asked to fork over some money to a stranger, you can’t help but wonder about a scam.

Now on the flip side, I’ve been getting some emails that are interesting. It appears that there is a woman who passed away in Africa who of all the people in the world, instructed her solicitor to contact me directly and notify me that I’ve been designated to receive just over $2 million dollars. Yes I’m to take some of that for myself but also to pass on the money to charities and causes I support. I can hardly wait to get the money and it seems all I need do is hand over my banking information and this stranger is going to deposit it all in my account. Oddly, I won’t be doing this.

And if memory serves, it was late last year when I was notified that a horrendous mugging had taken place in South America and one of my relatives was being treated in a hospital there and needed a money wire in order to pay their bills and return home. Now I’ll admit that I’m getting more forgetful but the relative in question didn’t immediately come to mind, and unless some of my extended family has children unknown to me living somewhere, these people don’t exist.

It seems to me that if you are on the computer a great deal, the more you surf, the more likely you are to somehow come up on someone’s list as a potential sucker. Case in point, I’ve been contacted by The Royal Bank of Canada, (RBC) to verify my account details or my account will be closed. How do you close an account when I’ve never held one at RBC in the first place? But apparently all I have to do is give them my account details where I do bank now, and everything will be magically taken care of. Although St. Patrick’s day was yesterday, I see no pot of gold waiting for me.

But what I do suspect is that these appeals and scams work. After all, scammers on the internet can cast a very wide net and they only need to get a small percentage of people to respond in order to make a fortune. And while many job seekers are focused on their job search, I’ve seen less savvy and dedicated job seekers opening and reading these emails and saving them in their inbox. Why? Best not to even open the email that looks suspicious in the first place. Then there’s no lasting digital trail to your inbox.

Now I don’t want to judge anyone, but have a look at your own inbox. Do you have emails from horoscope providers, dating websites, people offering you free computers, surveys that will pay money for your opinion, or possibly an appeal for money? Most if not all are hoax emails. They send messages back to the scammers that you may be a potential victim, and so you get an increase in this scam.

If you are looking for work but can’t resist the urge to indulge in all these kinds of requests for your money and promises of love, fortune and success, do yourself a favour, and anyone who is helping you along. Create a separate email used exclusively for job searching. Don’t tell any of your friends or family about it. Use it only for contacting and responding to employers. Keep that other email for your social life.

IF you follow this advice, see if your job search email doesn’t stay free of spam…oh and could you all send me $10 for this advice please?

One Way To Doom Your Jobsearch

In the middle of February, I will be facilitating yet another intensive job searching group for a couple of weeks. This is a group of twelve people; handpicked by my fellow Employment Counsellors, who have in the recent past demonstrated they are self-motivated to find employment. In addition, they must have some basic computer skills, know the kind of work they want, be prepared to come dressed professionally daily, and above all else, be open to receive constructive feedback on how to effectively improve their job searching skills.

Now in my own case, I decided at the outset of first designing this program that I wanted to invite these people via the phone to the program rather than have a clerk fire off a letter of invitation. My reasoning is that over the phone, I can check their voice message if I get a recording, I can hear if it rings forever otherwise, hear the tone of their voice, how they talk on the phone etc. Also I can gauge better their situation and determine if their situation has changed which would preclude their participation.

And in one gentlemen’s case, I have found a unique problem. Upon reviewing the file, the referring person indicated that he doesn’t always have phone access, so he should be contacted by email. Now if I were looking for work and applying for jobs I’d have an active telephone. If money was the problem and I had to rely on email, you can bet I’d have it on all day so I could hear the ‘ping’ whenever I received one, or I’d be checking it many times a day. How odd then that I emailed this fellow on Tuesday of last week and have yet to hear from him.

If this fellow should reply to me prior to the class being full and get accepted, the first of many things I would do is issue him funds to get his phone connected and active. You don’t have to be an Employment Counsellor to understand surely that if an employer finds it difficult to contact you as a potential interview candidate, they are going to move quickly on to others who are likewise qualified. This is after all, a competitive market with many qualified job seekers for almost every position advertised.

This is self-destructive behaviour which is likely to sabotage ones job search, and doom a job search to a very prolonged matter.

So let’s assume – for assumption is all we have – that this fellow has money issues and can’t afford to put money into his cell phone and has no landline. Okay, now with that premise agreed upon, it now becomes a situation that reveals a persons problem-solving skills or a lack thereof. So what would be other potential solutions if we brainstormed a bit?

Well for starters, one might borrow the money from family or friends. There’s also the option of him asking his Caseworker or Employment Counsellor for up to $30 per month in his case to restore his phone to service. Then there are phones in local resource centres and employment agencies which are free of charge. In our resource centre we even have a message service. How it works is a person puts this number on their resume, and when they come to the centre, they can ask if they’ve received calls, then call them back. No phone, no problem.

And there are other solutions too, like making the phone a priority and doing without something else even when funds are tight. Now before anyone starts to educate me on how someone on social assistance has so little funds in the first place and can’t afford to short change themselves in some other area, I know all to well how hard it is to get by on the little they receive. I am not insensitive to this situation.

But it does seem a huge waste of energy and time to send out even a single resume and apply for a job if in fact you close off the very form of contact which an employer might turn to in order to invite you in for an interview. Yes while it’s true more employers do correspond by email than in the past, some still want to make personal contact so they can quickly ascertain if you are interested, your availability, and hear any enthusiasm in your voice. Why make things harder on yourself?

If this fellow has a computer with internet access, there are more options like Skype which can put him in contact with others, and if there is no internet access or he has no computer or smartphone, he is at yet another disadvantage. Unfortunately, until such time as he initiates a response to me via email, or should happen to make contact with another staff member of the organization, I am at a loss to be able to communicate with him and sort out the nature of the problem and offer a solution.

In you own situation, may I suggest that in this age of multi-communication media, you do your very best to make yourself widely available to being contacted. If you are going to list a phone number, ensure it can receive calls and that you don’t get it so filled with messages you are unable to receive more. If you list an email, check it and respond. Be accessible!

Applying For Work Using Email

How far we have come in such a short period of time. How few years ago was it that if you were applying for a job you got dressed appropriately and traveled to the job site or the company and spoke to the person in charge if you could, and either gave them your resume or even said, “Put me to work” in the hope you could demonstrate your skills and be hired. Well I wish licorice pipes were two cents too but they aren’t and they aren’t likely to be again in my lifetime.

So when you apply or inquire about a job opening using email, one of your first decisions has to be that you actually use an email that doesn’t get you rejected just because it sounds ridiculous or gives your age away. I’m talking about jaredsmith1988@…., fluffybunnykins@….., studguy69@…. or juliewhite39@… Oh and just in case you think I’ve invented these, fluffybunnykins@ was the email a client of mine had been using up to the point of our meeting; her mom made it for her when she was 12 years old. Enough said.

When you apply, the subject line of your email should be the job title followed by the word, ‘vacancy’ or ‘position’ as in, “General Manufacturing position”, or “Financial Investment Officer vacancy”. Did you know that it is critical that you actually capitalize the first letter of the job title itself just as you would the first letter in your own first and last name? Because that is the standard measure of how to print or write a proper noun, you give away your lack of education or professionalism if you use lower case letters for each word. In other words, your words send a message that screams, “I don’t know basic grammar!” or, “I couldn’t care less even though I know how to do it properly”, or possibly, “I’ve been texting so long like a teenager myself I didn’t think anybody cared anymore!”. Hmmmm….they do.

In the body of the email, it is equally critical that you include a brief paragraph stating that you are applying for the job matching the subject line, that you are qualified, highly interested, have attached your resume and/or cover letter, and want an interview and provide your contact information. These couple of lines or a single paragraph show the reader of your email that you can string together a few sentences using proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. This reveals your level of literacy and will exude professionalism or smell of illiteracy. Proofreading this prior to sending your email is critically important therefore and you might get another pair of eyes to look it other before you hit, ‘send’.

Some people don’t think it necessary to actually include a phone number or email address in the body of the text, but if they can’t open your attachment, (or heaven forbid you actually forget to attach it at all!), they will have a number accessible to contact you. I would hope you aren’t applying for an IT position if you fail to include the attachment, but some careers/jobs that don’t require a high level of computer expertise are a tad more forgiving but best make sure you double-check that you’ve attached it to look competent. Failing to attach something as important as your resume, especially when you say you have, will reveal your lack of attention to detail, your ship-shod, sloppy way of doing things that are important, and probably rule you out from other moving forward.

If you include a cover letter, you have a choice to make. You can do one of three things really; 1) make the body of the email itself your cover letter, 2) have a single attachment being your cover letter and your resume further down as you scroll, or 3) have two attachments, a cover letter and your resume. So what’s best? Well first of all not all employers want to read a cover letter, so while you may get different takes on this advice, I’d avoid option #2. Because you don’t know the level of computer expertise the person has who is opening your email and how much time they will devote to it, they may actually not scroll down your cover letter to find the resume, and may assume incorrectly you included the cover letter only when you said you had attached the cover letter and resume. This would be their error, but your email gets deleted and they’ve moved on to other applicants.

The option of two attachments gives the receiver the choice of going right to the resume and ignoring the cover letter altogether, or opening both separately and reading them. As you don’t know when you apply if the employer appreciates a cover letter all the time, at least they can quickly open what they want and go from there. Should you opt to use the body of the email as your cover letter and have a single attachment being your resume only, it’s good advice to write a shorter cover letter that gets right to it and motivates them to move on and open your resume. A long cover letter may just be tiresome to read, overly wordy, and actually put them off.

Please use spellcheck features and proofread your document. Some people just rely on the computer to point out errors like incorrect spelling, but it will miss your use of an improper word that you have spelled correctly often. Because you will have the tendency to see the same mistake and miss it again and again, another pair of trained eyes is always a good bet.

Selective Email Sharing

Anyone who uses the Internet will agree I’m sure that it is a great source of information on so many topics. There are so many websites, each containing information albeit some useful and some less so that some people get overwhelmed trying to sort through all the data available. Without some personal discipline, you might find yourself surfing from topic to topic by clicking on links and hours later you realize you’ve wasted a lot of time looking at pages of information you had no idea of looking at when you first sat down. How do you get all of it under control?

In your surfing, you may come across some websites that you find would be of interest to other people you know; perhaps a website devoted to antiques for cousin Eugene, electronic gadgets that are up and coming for your sister Pam, recipes for your nephew Todd, and a job site for Uncle Mark. It is so tempting to pass these things on in the hope that what you are sharing is useful and appreciated. However, anyone who has an email account will tell you that from time to time there is a lot of garbage and spam that ends up being shared. Some people have a really difficult time with this influx of unwanted email, and yet don’t have the assertiveness to politely ask their family and friends to remove them from their distribution lists.

I myself have a certain person who routinely forwards what I consider to be junk email at least once per week. Do I really need to know this information? No. However, I haven’t requested she stop sending the information as the person is relatively new to my circle, and for reasons of nurturing a contact and not wanting to hurt the person, I simply continue to receive and delete. It’s a harmless email really, but if the volume increased, I’d take action to request that only emails of importance be forwarded. What’s of interest to one person is not necessarily of interest to another and vice-versa.

What I suggest however is that you consider carefully about the emails you forward to others and especially to those who are looking for employment. There are two sides to the job seeker and email. On the one hand, the job seeker needs to be focused, and will probably be hoping that any unread email received is from an employer, a job lead, a response to an application submitted or an opportunity for professional development etc. On the other hand, the job seeker might appreciate a break from consistent job searching on the computer, and appreciate something humourous or some short distraction. However, what you don’t know and can’t know, is how many OTHER people are sending these distracting emails that can derail a person from their job search.

Think about the email you are about to send. Is there a way for you to indicate in the subject line of the email what you are forwarding that would permit the receiver to know exactly what the content will be without opening it? For example, if you have a job lead, you could type, “Job lead: posting expires August 20” If on the other hand your email is something you stumbled across about the persons favourite band, you might type, “Beatles cover band coming to town”. In this example, the person could choose quickly to either open it right away if they wanted a diversion, or it could be something they set aside because their in a groove and don’t want to lose the momentum.

One thing that could happen in a negative way is that you postpone an email from a family member assuming it’s not work related and as it turns out it’s a job lead that is time sensitive. You ignore the email until a day or two goes by and then by the time you open it, the opportunity past because it didn’t seem from the subject heading to be job search related. The subject heading of the email was, “Hi”.

A second thing that often happens is you are in the middle of job searching, feeling really energized and making some headway for a change, and then you get an email that pops up and has the subject heading, “Job idea” from your brother. You open it immediately as it’s got, “job” in the title, and the email reads, “Ever thought about going back to school to be a plumber? By the way, your other brother Tom is in the hospital with a bout of chicken pox. Man I didn’t think you could get that as an adult. How about those Canadiens eh? Think they’ll make the playoffs this year?” etc. etc. Now with this kind of email, you’ve been sucked away from job searching and are now dealing with feelings about your brother who is ill, your favourite sports teams prognosis and all of that energy that was job search focused has to be found again.

The best thing I can personally suggest is that if you know someone who is looking for work, limit the amount of emails that you send that are purely of entertainment value. Sure a picture of a baby tiger play fighting with it’s siblings might be cute to you, but necessary to send? Doubt it. If many people are just sending the odd picture, the job seeker might have 15 or 20 junk emails that can also clutter up the inbox. What if, in deleting the garbage, you accidently deleted an important email responding to your application for a job? Ouch.

It comes down to just being respectful of the job seeker and their focus on getting that next job. If you are in doubt of how much or how little to send, why not just ask?