Why Communicating Through E-mail Is An Ineffective Job Search Strategy

Are you using an ineffective job search strategy? As an agency recruiter and career coach, I speak to 30-50 job seekers a week on average. Inevitably, one of my first questions is: "What have you done thus far for your job search?" The typical response includes:


  • I have posted my resume on various career sites.
  • I have set up job alerts on The Ladders, Indeed.com, and so on, and periodically check target company sites for new job postings.
  • I apply to job posts that I find online through the job post links.
  • I e-mail people in my "network" to see if they have any job leads.
  • I periodically e-mail agency recruiters to let them know I am still looking.
All of these are necessary actions when you begin your job search. However, I have noticed that after several months with very few interviews, candidates continue to rely on the same "e-mail-heavy" strategies. These steps are initially proactive, but ultimately become reactive… waiting for someone to e-mail you back. So, you might ask yourself, “What other proactive steps can I take?” If you aren't making any traction with your job search and feel frustrated and pessimistic about your prospects, then I boldly suggest that you stop focusing on e-mail as your main method of communication. Don't panic just yet. I am not suggesting that you unplug your computer, disable your wireless connection or stop checking e-mails and job alerts. I am simply proposing that you make a new commitment to yourself. For one month, make in-person or phone conversations your main mode of communication. For that month, e-mail contacts for job leads and apply through job sites as a LAST resort. Pick up the phone, meet for coffee, attend networking meetings and career workshops, and make every effort to interact with people “live” and in person. Continue to look for job leads and research potential employers online, but use these strategies in tandem with your new, more personal approach. Here's an example: You get a job alert that company XYZ has posted a new position. Usually, your next step would be to apply through their link and wait for a response. Instead, look on LinkedIn to see who you know at that company or who could introduce you to a contact at the company, and then call them. Yes, call them! We are all inundated with e-mails, but a friendly call is harder to ignore and gets a dialogue going. Just touch base, and ask the person if he or she would mind finding out the name of the hiring manager or who in HR is handling that position. You never know where a conversation might lead. At the very least, in-person meetings or phone conversations will re-energize and add some much needed change to any stagnant job search. Below are a few helpful hints for your new, more personal job search strategy:

Be Friendly

When you call or meet with people, make it friendly and social. Yes, you would like their assistance, but one-sided conversations never have much success. Make sure your energy is positive and the talk is not solely focused on you.

Be Respectful

Be respectful of people's time. Most people don't have an hour to "chit-chat," but most can spare 10 minutes to “catch up.”

Be Positive

Make the conversation pleasant and positive. Your job search may be difficult and frustrating, but people are more receptive if you’re upbeat and optimistic. Listening to someone complain for any length of time is never fun.

Make Sure You're A Fit

If you are going to ask others to forward your resume to their HR departments, make sure you are a strong fit for the role and that you have tweaked your resume so it "bleeds" the job description. When you forward your customized resume, make sure you include the job description (including the job number) and a few bullets that recap your relevant experience. Sometimes we need to shake things up in our quest for the next great opportunity. Focusing on more personal modes of communication adds a human element to your search process and can lead to a more positive attitude toward your job search as a whole. Conversations also give you more opportunities to showcase your “value proposition” to potential employers and may lead, directly or through referrals, to the interviews you seek. Author: Elisa Sheftic Enjoy this article? You've got time for another! Check out these related articles: Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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