advice to students in search of a job...

OK, I understand it is the time for students to be searching for a job, but i have been overwhelmed with the amount of poor emails from such students lately,…

I’d like to repost here some advice previously given in the hopes that those looking for a job/internship may take notice-

One addition- “colloquial” greetings such as “YO”, “hey there”, hi dude" do not start the dialog on the right foot… Pretty much any email I get starting with a greeting as such goes straight to the bin. I’m pretty good generally at replying to almost everything I get, but those emails which I can tell are either copy and past (“dear sir/madam”) or “yo guy”) are not worth my time to even reply to. Why should I spend my time typing a reply when the original sender can’t even spend his/her time in crafting an original email.

When I send soliciting emails to a company/individual, I make sure each one is individually written. Even if it’s it’s basically the same content ("I’m met XX at YY tradeshow, I’d like to follow-up on potential business opportunities…), I make sure to add something personal and unique to the email (ie. " I really liked Z product you were showing, we discussed AAA, etc.). To ask the same from a student looking for a job, I don’t think is too much.

I’m posting this out of frustration, so please consider as such, but it baffles me how people expect to get a job (esp. in this economy) with such poor first contact emails.

I’m one who sees the value in communication. If someone sends me a personal email, for a portfolio review, thoughts on their business opportunity, I’d be happy to reply, at length. A form email, not so much.

You get out of any communication as much as you put in, is the bottom line.


PS, And no, I’m not currently hiring.

why :frowning:

back to the point, doesn’t it strike you as just lazy they couldn’t be bothered to research the job they will be spending 40hr+ a week doing? I thought most graduates/students would have the common sense to do this. Before finding my placement (years paid internship, well it wasn’t really internship as i was actually doing work which was refreshing) heavy emphasis was placed on me by my university to do your homework as no one will part with their hard earned money for someone who doesn’t care about the job?

Is this correct in thinking that? i know its quite a strong opinion, but does this lack of ability sort the proverbial men from the boys?

I think those letters are revealing that those candidates are really just shooting in the dark hoping to get something, anything, and that it doesn’t really matter. Some are just looking for their first stepping stone but don’t seem to have any qualms about treating it as such. Being humble is one of those traits that’s slowly disappearing.

Any advice on writing follow up emails? I’ve had a few interviews with companies that seemed extremely promising. After sending my thank-yous, I was left in the dark. I’ve sent some 2nd emails to try to keep in touch, reiterating how excited I would be to work for them and how I’m still interested in the position. Most people don’t reply, I’ve gotten a few “we’re still considering candidates” responses.

I waited about 3 weeks to send my 2nd emails… its now been about 3 weeks since. How long should I wait before sending a 3rd email to the people who responded to my 2nd? Should I say something like “when might you expect to have a decision?”

I would limit it to one follow up to be honest. I think I might actually call rather than email. Send too many emails and it gets a bit stalker-ish and you can end up putting them off.

Don’t send a 3rd. Assume the position was either filled, or went away.

after that it falls into the “he’s just not that into you” category…

Please people, follow Richard’s cover letter advice. To be respected as a professional, you must act like one.

after that it falls into the “he’s just not that into you” category…

:laughing: Job interviews are a bit like dating - we’ve all had dates where they were so keen they put you off, bombarding you with texts and emails.

If theres one thing I’ve learnt from being freelance - if people want you to work for them, they’ll be in touch. No amount of hassling from your side will change that. Build relationships, network like crazy, but never ever hassle people - if you’re not getting work from them, it’s usually becuase there isn’t any or it’s gone to someone else! Just concentrate your energies on getting your work out there and known.

Please people, follow Richard’s cover letter advice. To be respected as a professional, you must act like one.

Yup: I find once you are in the trade you are not only a designer, you are a diplomat when you visit the factory and a politician when you present to the board. You have to be able to articulate yourself.

I just had to put this in here. After getting back from the North East Conference and doing some portfolio reviews, I have started to get some thank you emails. My biggest piece of advice to students about this and other email being sent out is SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK! There is no excuse to spell a persons name wrong and not use proper grammar in a professional email. It is also a big turn off especially when you have the person’s business card.

I am not the best and have made my fair share of grammatical errors, but when you are trying to make an impression on someone who may be able to help you find a job; this is a very easy mistake to avoid and should not happen.

Only a couple days after I posted above, I got emails from companies this morning.

Looks like I’ll have an excuse to dress up a bit this week :wink:

this is a very easy mistake to avoid and should not happen

Just use Firefox’s spellcheck feature, though it won’t work for there their and they’re.

Great advice above.

One more suggestion - that will seem obvious to many - but you would be surprised how often this happens.

If you are going to send general emails out to numerous companies at the same time… PLEASE… use BCC. (blind carbon copy)

Nothing seems to bug me more than opening an email with the standard canned greeting including the prerequisite “I am really interested in your work and think I’d be a great addition to your team” and then see 30 other design firms in the “sent” field.

It happens - more often than you’d think

Hey man, sorry we didn’t run into each other!

Or maybe take the 10 minutes to actually send the email individually… it’s only your future on the line…

I saw you at the Gala and got a bit of your sketching session, but got wrapped up. Maybe next year or if I am in Boston we’ll bave to grab a beer.

exactly. thats the whole point of my initial post. If you are a student or someone looking for work, time is the one thing you have on your hand. do your research, address emails personally, target the body copy to the company.

For me, it’s got to the point where a “dear sir or madam” letter goes straight to the G-file (garbage, that is). My name is clearly listed on my website. The least you could do is copy and paste that.

It all may seem trivial but if someone can’t spend 2 minutes to make a personal email and pay attention to details, how could they be expected to check a tech drawing or read the brief for a design project?

Honestly, it baffles my mind, really.

As for corporate not getting back to you after interviews/applications, I can understand the frustration. I’ve experienced similar things in which I was flown out for interviews, second interview, told by the VP design/HR I’d hear something after X amount of time…then nothing. It’s for sure frustrating, and while I can appreciate that corporate and HR depts. have a lot going on, to me it really reflects poorly on a company. I make a point myself to never to the same and to reply to any personal (ie. not form letters) I get. That being said, I guess it’s the companies who hold the power in the situation, so not (unfortunately) likely to change in the future…


I came up with a strategy that helped me network. I would locate the name of the owner of the firm and then I would locate others that worked for that firm usually by googling “@(firmswebsite)” usually an email and name would show up. Most firms are set up with the same email setup, for example; firstinitial last name @ website. So I would send an email to what I thought the CEO’s email would be with a eye catching title include my resume and sample of work. It has worked rather well. The CEO will forward it to the people that hire and they usually get back to me quite quickly. The message did come from their boss :slight_smile:

^ That’s a good way to do it.

I’ve developed a loose standard format for my emails, but I do personalize it after finding out about the company for 30 minutes or so (if I have no prior exposure to them). I mention their work that I appreciate, and how I meet their needs. I also email each place individually. I think it’s a pretty good way to be efficient while still being sincere.

I’m only applying for internships, though.

a point…

Don’t be afraid of picking up the phone. Just a few moments speaking with someone can do a lot more than emailing. People are very busy and often won’t have time to speak but at least then they know your voice and have some extra contact with you beyond a random email.

I have sent plenty of emails and never received a response and so called. Most of the time I have got a positive, friendly response usually with something like “sorry haven’t had time to reply by email but we would like to talk properly soon”.

Also the point about personal interest in their business goes a long long way.

This is more for my freelance business but I’m sure it would be useful for some…


This is really important. Having a dialogue is important.

Someone sent me a text message as a first contact the other week when I was stewarding on a march in London. I was there in my high visibility vest keeping the crowds back! How on earth am I going to remember you if you texted me at a time like that?

Needless to say I can’t find that text anymore, which is a shame because I think I wouldv’e been able to help them.

I try to respond to all my emails but when I’m busy there are times when I don’t get round to it and sometimes the emails might not get flagged or misfiled.

The other thing someone did recently was email me to ask me to do some work for them but the return address didn’t work! I had no other contact details. Be sure to double check your email address and phone number.

There’s some etiquette here as well. Be sure to properly introduce yourself, and the reason you are calling. But before you dive into your sales pitch, be sure to say something along the lines of “are you available to talk for a few minutes?” so that you aren’t interrupting them.

I answer almost every phone call that comes to me because I’m usually expecting return calls. Sometimes I don’t have time to chat because I’ve got something going, and if you take the courtesy of asking if I have a few minutes to spare you’re definitely moving up my list.