Telephone and E-Mail Tips

Telephone and e-mail communication are essential tools for your job hunt. Use them to find out about the job and its availability and to set up interviews. Because this is often your first contact with a potential employer, it is important for you to make a good initial impression by phone or e-mail.

Some employers may wish to interview you by telephone when you first call them. Don’t panic! The employer can’t see you, and must therefore draw his or her first impression of you from your phone manner.

First Impression of the Employer

The first call or e-mail exchange is not only the first impression the employer has of you, it is also your first impression of the employer. Use this first contact as an opportunity to determine whether or not this job is a match for you.

  • Does the job match your interests?
  • Do the hours match your schedule?
  • Will you be able to travel to the job site?
  • Are you qualified to do the job?

Also use this first contact to help you determine whether this is an employer with whom you would like to work. Phone manner or writing style can be an indication of personality or professionalism.

Never feel that you must accept a position that does not interest you. You need also never disclose any personal information that isn’t necessary prior to your accepting a position (e.g. Social Security number or address). Identifying ethnicity, a disability, etc. should never be required when applying for a position.

Before You Contact the Employer

Have the information from the job listing (i.e. job title, contact person, phone number, e-mail address, pay rate, location, etc.) in front of you when you make your call or write your e-mail. If calling, also be sure to have pen and paper handy to jot down notes.

Here are some questions you may want to ask the employer:

  • Where will the job be located?
  • How do you get to the job site?
  • Is the job site T/bus accessible?
  • Are there any special requirements?
  • What tasks/duties does the job involve?
  • How long will the job last?
  • What is the rate of pay?

Making the First Call

Ask to speak to the contact person, referring to him or her by either full name or title (Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr.) and last name.

  • Identify yourself.
  • State the nature and purpose of your call.
  • Answer the contact person’s questions and ask any questions that may be helpful to you.
  • If appropriate, set an interview date and confirm the time, location, and date again before ending the call.
  • Politely exchange closing remarks and thank the employer.

If the contact person is not available at the time of your call, leave a message. Whether your message is left with another person or on a voice mail system, remember to leave your full name, your phone number, the reason you are calling, and specific hours you can easily be reached.

Sending the First E-Mail

  • Put the job title in the subject line.
  • Begin the e-mail as you would a business letter (e.g. Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr.).
  • State the nature and purpose of your e-mail.
  • Give descriptive information about yourself relevant to the job.
  • Ask any questions you have about the job.
  • Give both an e-mail address and a phone number for the employer to respond.
  • Politely close the e-mail and tell the employer that you look forward to his or her response.

Remember not to use informal Internet jargon (i.e. “how r u?”) in your e-mail.

If you do not receive a response to your e-mail, it may be appropriate to send a follow-up e-mail one or two days later verifying that the employer received the first one. If there was also a phone number in the job listing, you may wish to follow-up with a phone call.

Helpful Hints


  • Speak slowly, clearly, and audibly.
  • Be polite, courteous, and patient.
  • Sound motivated and interested.
  • Be personable.
  • Use the contact’s name when appropriate.
  • Listen attentively.
  • Ask relevant questions.
  • Write down important information.
  • Use professional language and tone.
  • Confirm the interview appointment before ending the conversation.
  • Follow up with another phone call if the employer does not promptly return your message. Persistence can pay off!

Do Not:

  • Eat, drink, chew gum, or smoke while on the phone.
  • Rush the phone call.
  • Use slang terms, derogatory language, or online jargon (e.g. lol, omg, how r u?).
  • Use repetitive “space filler” sounds (e.g. uh, um).
  • Interrupt while the contact person is speaking.
  • Anticipate the contact person’s questions or responses.
  • Be vague or unresponsive when asked questions.
  • Slam down the receiver.