Let’s talk email. For the longest time I looked at each email I received as a mini homework assignment. I really hated it. By not responding, I saved lots of time, but unknowingly, I missed opportunities because I was upsetting everyone I didn’t respond to. So I needed to find a way to use email to my advantage. Here are 4 key tips to help you use email to your advantage.
First, since email is free, create a new one for your job search. Pick a name related to the job you want, or the industry. For example, if you are looking for a job as an accountant, create an email address like [email protected], or [email protected]. When people get emails from you, the immediate impression is NOT that you’re blasting your resume for any kind of job, but rather that you’re only applying to accounting jobs because that’s what you love doing. If you have multiple specialties, have multiple addresses. People are drawn to people who are passionate about what they do.
Second, de-organize! Since email is searchable now, you can stop creating all those folders; you don’t need them. It actually takes longer to go find the folder, then search the folder for what you need, instead of just keeping one archive folder and search there. It’s a hard habit to break, but try it, you’ll move faster.
Third, you must be able to reply faster. Personally I use Microsoft Outlook and this tip works GREAT for Outlook users, but you can do this in Gmail too. I suspect you’re all familiar with email templates, pre-written emails that you send out over and over. These can be a pain to have to go find, and they’re useless if you have to reply to an email because you can’t just insert the template into your reply, at least not in Outlook. Many people keep templates in shortcut icons, or copied into a notepad folder so they can cut and paste them into reply emails. No more! You know how you can customize your Outlook signature? You can actually have multiple signatures; one to say ‘Have a Good Morning’, then your name, or ‘Have a Good Weekend’, or whatever, followed by your name and whatever information you want to include. However, you can ALSO include a completely written template email in there! I keep all my templates in my signatures in Outlook and it saves me incredible amounts of time, even on reply emails. Just ‘insert signature’, and send!
In Gmail, go to Settings, Labs, then look up “Canned Responses” and you can set this up to accomplish the same thing.
Fourth, Delay Delivery is a must! Why? Let’s say you meet someone at a networking group and you want to stay in touch with them, or you’re interviewing with 3 companies and have different days you need to follow up with each of them. Instead of writing yourself notes to send follow up emails on whichever days you need to, write them NOW while the information is still fresh in your head! Write them from the perspective of the time they would be sent, so you would reference “last week when we spoke…” even though you’re writing them today, then click “delay delivery” for the day and time when you want that email to go out. Now you’ll be following up with everyone when you should be, and you won’t forget anything that happened when you met because you wrote them right after the events happened. Be sure to BCC yourself so you know the email went out. For networking contacts, you can pre-write a series of 5+ emails set to periodically send over the next 12 months!
To use Delay Delivery in Gmail, you need to go to http://code.google.com/p/gmail-delay-send/ and install the application. The guy who made this has a quick video tutorial so you can see how it works. There are others out there like this, but this is the only one I found that was free. I use it myself, it does work, so I’m confident in recommending it.
Update: As of iOS 10, Boxcar, the app recommended below, has been discontinued. You can use this link to search for alternatives: https://alternativeto.net/software/boxcar/.
Here’s a bonus tip: Boxcar. If you have a smartphone, I recommend this free app because you can be alerted to important emails immediately. I personally love it. I know not everyone has a smartphone which is why this is just a bonus, but if there’s an email I want to know about right away, Boxcar will audibly alert me to when that person or place sends me an email. Very cool app, and allows me to respond to important clients and candidates in seconds.
So these are a few of my best email tricks to speed up your search. If you’re able to respond to email quickly, you won’t miss opportunities, and it makes a great impression.