There are so many different ways to communicate these days, that it is hard to know which method is the best to leverage during the job search.  Email, phone or handwritten letter….which method will help you stand out and get noticed in the sea of applicants?


Email is extremely efficient.  With email, delivery is instantaneous (unlike mailed letters) and devoid of pregnant pauses (unlike the spoken word).  However, if you chose email, employ these best practices:

1)      Use a professional tone.  Do not sound overly personal with the recipient and do not use slang or abbreviations.  The hiring manager is not your “dude”

2)      Immediately refer to the job number or job description so that the recipient has a reference point

3)      Double check your signature line and make sure that it professional and includes links to your LinkedIn profile, blog or website (if appropriate)

If you attach a resume to your email, make sure that the file name is appropriate.  “ResumeVer123.doc” is probably not a good idea; it makes me wonder what the other 122 versions look like.

Follow the instructions for resume submissions; employers want you to do what they ask and they don’t have much tolerance for applicants who don’t.  If, in the job posting, they ask you to send your resume as PDF file, don’t send a Word document – convert it.  Newer versions of Microsoft Word allow you to convert your document to a PDF file. If you do not have a newer version of Microsoft Word, a Google search for “Word to PDF conversion” can find many online tools to help you.


With the proliferation of texts, instant messages and email, it is hard to believe that some people still prefer the spoken word.  Therefore, even if you are not a “phone person”, if that is the way you have been asked to respond to a job posting, pick up the phone and dial the number!

However, rehearse your opening statement before you make that phone call.  Many times, the way we hear ourselves communicate is not the way others hear us, so practice beforehand.  Speak slowly and carefully, and even practice in front of the mirror so that you can better grasp your communication style, cadence and tone.

Once you pick up the phone,  be prepared to repeat the information for you may have caught the person off-guard and (if so) they will not be completely tuned in when you introduce yourself.

Written Word

Very, very few companies will ask you to mail a resume; it is just too slow for today’s work world.  However, everyone needs to fill out an application (and other paperwork) during the process.  Therefore, make sure that your handwriting is legible, especially your email address and phone number. I have seen many applications get set aside, simply because the hiring manager could not figure out how to contact the candidate.

In addition, double-check your spelling.  Even smartphones have free dictionary apps that you can leverage if you doubt the spelling of a particular word.  There is no excuse for poor spelling, and it can cost you the job.

Bottom line

Follow the cues of the company.  If they state that a particular method of communication should be used, then use that method initially and follow up with other methods.  If nothing is stated on the job posting, then start the communication process with the method that you are the most comfortable with and then follow up with others.

However, under no circumstances, should you text or instant message; these are casual forms of communication and should not be leveraged during a formal job search.

The key to find a job today is using all of the appropriate communication tools available to you – technology, verbal communication skills and even your own handwriting.