RTs: This is How to Write a Professional Email to a Prospective Employer

Professional Emails
Even if you’ve been writing emails for a while, the type of email you write to your family and friends is not the same as the type you would write to a prospective employer.

As a human being on planet Earth, you’ve most likely been writing emails for a long time now and you probably feel like you know exactly how to do it. However, writing an email to your family and friends isn’t the same as writing an email to a prospective employer. Respiratory therapy managers and educators who work with job seekers have plenty of pet peeves about this form of communication, and six of them share their top do’s and don’ts with us here.

Brian Cayko, MBA, RRT, GFC MSU Respiratory Therapist Program, Great Falls, MT

Do’s
  • Be concise. RTs in administrative roles will likely be used to receiving emails from those looking for employment and will not finish reading a three paragraph narrative.
  • Spellcheck. A professional email is not the same as a text or social media post. Represent yourself as a professional.
  • Highlight key attributes and credentials.
Don’ts
  • Do not flood their email. Be occasional enough to display your interest and be remembered, but don’t be annoying. One email every few weeks that arrives a few days after a mailed resume/application or after an interview is sufficient.
  • Is your email address appropriate/professional? If you chose your email address when you were an adolescent, it might be a good idea to register for a new one. Try to avoid silly or unprofessional emails; partyrocker@gmail.com doesn’t exactly create confidence that you will be showing up to your shift on time. Try using your name and a simple number string.
  • Don’t use text slang, acronyms, or emojis. Telling the manager you will connect with them over “Snapchat” isn’t suggested.

Renee Angstrom, BSHCA, RRT, Legacy Health, Silverton, OR

Do’s
  • Show enthusiasm for your career. What motivates you to come to work each day? Why do you think you would be a good fit at our organization?
  • Be confident, but don’t tweak your resume by counting your clinical hours as “experience in the field.” Students are ground zero at graduation. They tend (possibly from counseling at college) to report their clinical hours as experience, and when you start drilling down, you realize their “experience” was supervised learning hours.
Don’ts
  • Don’t write in “text” language — i.e., all small letters, running sentences together, abbreviations, etc. I want to see the “best” of an applicant. If you cannot write a sentence in a professional manner, I do not have the confidence you can chart on a legal document appropriately.
  • Spellcheck! Getting a resume or a “request for interview” letter with misspelled words is an immediate reject. You have a college degree. Write like your life depends on it!
  • Don’t tell me about plans you already have to be out of town on vacation. When I start calling for interviews, I want to be able to have a face-to-face within a week at the latest. Usually sooner.

Robert P. Weaver, BS, RRT, Hendricks Medical Center, Danville, IN

Do’s
  • As a general rule, emails should be used only after an application has been submitted They are not the proper vehicle to send a resume or a detailed introduction. If you cannot say to me what you want in 4–5 sentences, I am moving on. Proper use of the subject line is just as important as the body of the email.
  • To get an interview: Keep it short and on point. Introduce yourself, let them know you have researched the company, and ask to meet in person or speak with them on the phone. Use proper English and spellcheck.
  • After an interview: Keep it short and on point. Say thank you. Let them know whether you feel that the two of you are a good fit — remember, you are interviewing them as well. Use proper English and spellcheck.
Don’ts
  • Don’t use casual addresses; use Mr., Mrs., Ms.
  • Don’t misspell words and/or use bad grammar.
  • Don’t write a lengthy multi-paragraph introduction.
  • Do not use acronyms or jargon (you can’t assume the employer knows those terms.)

Betty-Pauline Polanco, MEd, RRT, Pima Medical Institute, Chula Vista, CA

Do’s
  • Be as concise as possible. Especially in emails, no one wants to read a novel.
  • Be considerate when using “reply all”; most of the time this is inappropriate.
  • Be diligent with grammar and spelling.
Don’ts
  • Do not use contractions — they come across as too casual.
  • Do not use “textese”— this has become so commonplace that individuals need to be reminded to not use it.
  • Do not fail to use the prospective manager’s name in the salutation — it makes one wonder if the prospective employee has done their research as to whom they will be working for. (This, of course, does not necessarily apply to cover letters.)

Jeff Anderson, MA, RRT, Boise State University, Boise, ID

Do’s
  • Be brief, yet explain your situation (i.e., “I am a new graduate from XXX program,” or “I have X years of experience in X specialty”).
  • Explain to the best of your ability why you would like to be employed in that facility (i.e., “I understand that your department utilizes protocolized therapy and that is attractive to me”). This shows you have done some research.
  • Consider whether there is anything special that you can provide to that facility — make yourself attractive enough to get an interview.
Don’ts
  • Don’t ask about salary. That will be discussed should you get an interview/offer.
  • Don’t mandate what shifts you will work or which units will fit your needs.
  • Essentially avoid anything like, “what can you do for me.”
  • Proofread your email thoroughly before you send it — don’t simply rely on spellcheck software.

Diane Baltzell, Texas Health Presbyterian Allen, Allen, TX

Do’s
  • Introduce yourself and let me know how you found my information or if we have a shared contact. For example, “Dear Ms. Department Director, My name is Jim SuperNewGrad, RRT. Your colleague from BigCityMedicalCenter, Curtis GreatestPreceptorEver, RRT, suggested I contact you for information about the Dallas/Fort Worth job market for respiratory therapists …” or “Dear Ms. Department Director, I came across your information via LinkedIn and realized you are the hiring manager for the position posted on the BigCityHospital job board. I have the skills and qualifications listed in the posting and have submitted my application … Cordially yours, Jane SuperExperiencedTherapist, RRT”
  • Keep it brief and make sure everything is spelled correctly.
Don’ts
  • Don’t misspell words or use bad grammar or run on sentences.
  • Don’t use a tone or include content that suggests the writer is immature or has not performed even a cursory investigation about the position or job market they are asking questions about.
  • Don’t go too long — information from a resume should not be duplicated in an email.
  • Don’t include explanations or excuses about previous employment/scholastic mishaps/complaints about former employers.
  • Don’t expect me to do basic job market research for you. In a metro area, all major employers have job boards and lots of information online.