Lessons from a Colorful Job-Seeking Email

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So, this email from a job seeker has been making the rounds on the internet lately. (see the article here)

rainbow-email_2

First of all, we’re not 100 percent sure this is real, but it is hilarious. Poor Matthew. So unfortunate. Let’s take a moment to see what his misstep can teach us.

Lesson 1: Like fire or a samurai sword, email is deadly when misused.

One thing about email that is both awesome and terrible is its instantaneous nature. It allows you to fire off a reply so quickly, you don’t take the time to carefully think about your response. If Matthew had taken the time to mull over Carl’s question, he might not have made his response quite so—magically delicious. No matter how eager you are to get the job, it’s better to write your reply, then take a little while to think it over and make sure you’ve got it right. A thoughtful response goes much further than a fast one.

Lesson 2: Be careful with your fonts.

Any design nerd (and we use the term affectionately, since we qualify) will tell you that Comic Sans is a no-no in a professional email. We think it’s a no-no in general, but we’re not going to judge you as harshly if you use it in a “please make more coffee if you drink it all” letter in the break room as we would if you use it in a professional context. Cutesy fonts just make you look goofy. Stick to something more serious, like Helvetica or Arial or even Times New Roman. Your potential employer may not care, but better safe than sorry.

Lesson 3: Proofread.

Then proofread again, and once you’re done, proofread one more time. Aside from looking like a bag of Skittles, this email is a grammatical mess. No matter how excited and eager you are to get your response back to a potential employer, it’s worth the extra time it takes to make sure you send a clean and correct reply. Even though email is a fast and informal means of communication, grammar is still important. Matthew says right there in his email that he pays attention to detail (you can’t miss it; it’s bright orange), but his sloppy grammar doesn’t do much to help his case. It matters.

Lesson 4: Asking a question is not unprofessional.

Clearly, Matthew didn’t understand what Carl was asking. And you know what? That’s OK. It’s fine that you don’t know everything. If you have access to a more established mentor, forward the email and see how they interpret it, or reply to the original sender and ask if they can explain their question more clearly. Sure, it might make you feel dumb and inexperienced, but you know what makes you actually look dumb and inexperienced? SENDING A FLIPPING RAINBOW EMAIL.

One thing that works in Matthew’s favor is that he’s clearly eager about his job search, and that’s a good thing. So thanks for being a cautionary tale, Matthew. Best of luck in your search!

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