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Using E-mail and the Phone to Contact Employers

The telephone and e-mail are important tools to use well in your job search. Let's first cover my thoughts on e-mail; then we can turn our attention to using the phone.

Contacting Employers by E-mail

E-mail is a wonderfully efficient way to communicate. It offers a variety of advantages that a phone cannot, including the following:

It's more convenient. You can send e-mail any time you want, and the recipients can deal with the messages as they choose. An e-mail message does not interrupt people as a phone call can.

You can attach files. You can attach a copy of your resume, JIST Card, or anything else you want.

You can forward it to others. Your e-mailed resume or message can be easily forwarded by the recipient to others who might be interested, along with a note from him or her to consider you.

It's fast. There are no delays as there are when mailing or transferring papers within an organization.

It's free. You incur no long-distance phone charges and no mailing costs.

Some people prefer e-mail. I am one of many who prefer getting work-related e-mail instead of phone calls in most situations. The reason is that phone calls interrupt what I am doing, but I can deal with e-mails in a more controlled and time-efficient way. I get so many phone calls from telemarketers and other nuisance calls that I will often let incoming calls whose numbers I don't recognize (via caller ID) go to voice mail. Many employers also prefer e-mail, particularly from people they don't know, and some will insist that you communicate with them only via e-mail.

You may also prefer to use e-mail yourself. Even so, I think you should primarily use the phone during your job search, for these reasons:

E-mail is easily ignored and deleted. One of e-mail's advantages to the recipient is also its disadvantage to you. E-mail allows employers to ignore a message until they choose to deal with it. A busy person may wait days before responding, quickly view and put it aside for a "later" response, or simply delete it as junk e-mail from someone they don't know. Think of e-mail as a locked car sitting in your driveway. You don't think much about it until you want to use it.

Phone calls get a bit more attention. A phone call, however, is more like a car alarm going off. It's far more likely to get your attention or at least get you to wonder why it is going off. E-mails can get attention, but you have to remember that most e-mail users get lots of junk mail and learn to quickly delete anything that looks like it comes from someone they don't know. Attachments to e-mail are particularly dangerous to open because they can contain viruses. So unless your e-mail is to someone you know, it has a good chance of being ignored or deleted. We all get junk phone calls too, of course, but almost everyone will at least listen to voice mail before deleting it, which is more attention than most e-mail gets. And calling someone presents the possibility of getting to that person in a more direct, personal way.

A phone call provides a different and more interactive experience.

If you prepare well, a direct phone contact allows you to have an impact that an e-mail simply can't. Even if you only get to the potential employer's voice mail, a well-done presentation will at least be listened to. If you do get through to the potential employer, a phone conversation allows you to interact with that person in a more personal and natural way. The employer hears your voice and can ask you questions in real time and get your responses, experiencing your verbal communication skills. An interactive phone call also allows you to react to what's being said and allows an employer to make a decision whether to see you in an interview or to follow up in some other way.

Saying no to you is harder on the phone. Phone calls provide an experience that is closer to being face to face. It is a much more personal interaction and one where you both have the opportunity to interact, react to questions and tone of voice, and correct misunderstandings. If you ask the employer to set up a time to see you, you are also much more likely to succeed than you would be in asking the same thing in an e-mail. This assumes, of course, that the employer likes how you come across in the phone call.

Keep in mind that my objective is to help you to get interviews. Making direct contacts with employers is one of the most effective job search methods there is. E-mail is most effective when it's used intelligently and appropriately in combination with the phone techniques in the next section.

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