home »

dear headhunter columns »

career insider columns »

syndicated newspapers »

internet/on-line readership »

the buzz about George »

biography/references »

order advice/order book »

send email »

career insider

Read My Lips: No New Faxes

Have you received a telegram lately? I don’t think so! The speedy delivery of documents and letters has moved from the pony express to telegrams to airmail to faxes and now e-mails. You can contact a person on the other side of the globe in seconds through e-mail.

This column was prompted by my client’s response to a thank-you note sent to him via U.S. mail. My candidate’s interview was on a Wednesday. It was now Monday, three business days later, and my client and I were discussing the candidate’s interest level in his job opening. He said, "I’m not sure if she’s interested - I have not received a thank-you note." I immediately called my candidate to find out what happened; she said, "I sent the note by U.S. snail mail." I always instruct my candidates to follow-up every interview with a thank-you note A.S.A.P. I informed my client what happened and he was not pleased. "She should have e-mailed me the next day. I want to wait and see if the note ever arrives."

The message of this story is that in the business world today communications are expected instantly. Three days is a long time in our new electronic world. Have you ever stared at your microwave counting the seconds, waiting for your popcorn? Our perception of time has definitely changed since the use of the internet and e-mails.

Three tips for thank-you notes and follow-up letters:

1. E-MAIL. Send e-mails whenever possible. Most business cards have an e-mail address for future correspondence. Most recruiters will not accept a faxed resume. You must have a digital resume ready at all times. If you are interviewing with a company that doesn’t have e-mail, think twice before you join. That company may be lagging behind their competition’s technology. Again, forget faxes, "NO NEW FAXES." Faxes are worse than snail mail because you will be perceived as a person not in-tune with today’s business environment. A thank-you card or note can be sent after the e-mail. The address and message should be hand-written to reflect a more personal approach.

2. SPELLING. Spell check every e-mail, then read it aloud. Spell check will not correct the word "and" to replace "end," but reading aloud will help you find those easily missed typos. One typo can distract the reader. Multiple typos can cause you to be eliminated from final consideration.

3. FOLLOW-UP. Prompt follow-up is critical to make the best impression. Don’t wait two or three days after a meeting or interview to send an e-mail. Waiting may reflect procrastination or lack of confidence. Send your message the same day, if possible. Delaying your message will only dilute its effectiveness.

Finally, some good news, my client did get the snail mail thank-you note and my candidate will get a final interview. The not-so-good news is that my candidate will have to overcome any doubts about her interest level and enthusiasm. I’ll let you know in a future column if she gets the job.

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.