Don't send in a poor application!

This news article was originally published here

Dear Career Advisor:
I am the proprietor of a medium-sized business which employs over 50 full-time workers in addition to seasonal workers. Consequently, we frequently receive applications from people seeking employment. I have been noticing a worrying trend; many of the correspondences received via e-mail do not have a subject line descriptor and many of those that do have very vague headers such as “my application”.

Additionally, many of the letters are poorly written with no clear structure.

Please forgive me for taking the liberty of suggesting that you consider providing your job-seeking readers with guidelines on how to effectively communicate with prospective employers.

D McDermott

Dear D McDermott:

You have the distinction of being the first employer to submit to the Jamaica Observer’s Career Advisor’s mailbox and we thank you most sincerely for doing so.

Your observations are very relevant. The questions and suggestions of all our readers are welcomed and highly appreciated. Do continue to read the Career Advisor and please do not hesitate to send us your suggestions and observations.

Indeed, there are certain protocols that should be observed as a part of all written communication, and especially so for career preparation and advancement. Job seekers will do well to be guided by the summary guidelines below.

All written correspondence will convey to the reader the level of your communication skill. Be aware that your writing — whether sent by regular mail or by e-mail — will illustrate to your prospective employer your level of professionalism. The reader will be at liberty to infer whether you take pride in your output, respect your reader, and have effective communication skills.

Rule of thumb for written communication

Whether you are a job-seeker or seeking to advance in your career be sure to observe these three basic rules.

• concise – Get to the point in what you want to say.
• clear – State clearly and in an organised manner your purpose for writing.
• compelling – Your proposing should make a case that inspires the reader to take the action that you desire, such as invite you for an interview.
E-mail guidelines

Since is electronic mail is often the preferred and more efficient way of communicating, it is important to get it done correctly.
Below are a few tips that should prove useful.

i. Include a subject header: Never leave the subject line blank. Use an appropriate header that summarises the content of your e-mail. Possible examples are, “Response to advert for Customer Service Rep” or “Experienced Graphic Designer – potential employee”.

ii. Greetings – Use the formal approach in your salutations, unless instructions are given to do otherwise, such as, Dear Mr or Ms; Sir/Madam; or HR manager. Be sure to spell the name(s) correctly.

iii. Proofread – Do not skip this step. Use a spell and grammar checker.

iv. Be professional – Do not include slangs, coarse expressions, emoticons, multi-coloured background designs, and large overly stylised fonts or font sizes.

v. Attachments – Indicate in the body of your e-mail that you have attached documents and tell what they are.

I trust these communication guidelines will prove useful for all our readers.

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at

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Jamaica Job News, Regional Job News

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