This may come as a relatively mundane thing to discuss, but, especially in job search, I’m amazed at the number of e-mails I get and our clients get that are ridiculously long and don’t get read. Most things that are sent and received online are scanned not read. Psychologists have found that when people read things online, they jump around a lot. They usually start in the middle of the page move to the left then move upward to the top of the page. They do not, for some reason start at the top left corner of the page and read across the page like we do when we hold something printed in our hand.

The average businessperson receives 140 e-mails a day. E-mails are opened on average for 15 to 20 seconds. Job seekers think that Hiring Authorities carefully read the resumes and the e-mails that accompany them when they send them. They don’t. I’ve always contended that the average resume get scanned in 10 seconds. E-mails of job seekers probably get less.

If you are looking for a job, your resume needs to be very clear and specific about what you’ve done and where you worked. The e-mails that you send when you send your resume need to be short and powerful. I suggest no more than two or three sentences with maybe a bullet point or two. The subject line could be something that grabs the attention of the receiver and causes them to want to read the rest of the e-mail.

I’ve had candidates who introduce themselves with a subject line like: “Hire a top performer,” or “remember Michael Jordan…” And then in the body of the email they quote Michael Jordan about all of the shots he missed. It’s a compelling quote. The writer then went on to compare himself to Michael Jordan. It was all done in about five sentences that could be read in about 20 seconds.

Follow-up e-mails from candidates often don’t get read because they are way too long. Something short and to the point like this example works:

“Mr. or Ms. Smith, thank you for the opportunity to interview with you yesterday. The conversation was stimulating and enlightening. You made it clear that you wanted to find someone who was:

  • Experienced in your business
  • a top performer
  • someone who has passion and commitment to their profession

Let me remind you that:

  • I have 20 years of experience in the business
  • I’ve always been a top performer and my past reviews reflect that
  • I have passion and commitment and my references will confirm that

When might we get together again to discuss the opportunity further?

Thank you again,

Tony Beshara

it’s not hard to be more creative with this, but the point is to keep the e-mails short and to the point. A three or four paragraph e-mail is not going to get read.