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Communication Essentials

Every time you communicate with an employer, be as professional as possible. Always use correct grammar when speaking or writing. Don’t write an e-mail like a text message, or with the same tone or language that you would use when writing a friend.

Even if e-mail is your preferred way of communicating, check with your contacts to see what their preferred contact method is so you can communicate with them most effectively.

Using the phone

Don’t take a cell phone call or page when with another person–it’s rude. This is especially true during an interview, site visit, or other professional event.

In fact, be prepared to silence your phone and put it away. Texting, checking your phone for e-mail, and otherwise being constantly distracted by your phone is likely to make you seem uninterested. It’s not going to make a good impression.

When leaving a voice mail or message, speak slowly and clearly so your message is clear. Keep your message short. Leave your name and phone number to ensure the employer can call you back.

Return calls the day they’re received. If for some reason you can’t call back the same day, call within 24 hours.

Thank You Letters

 Always send a thank-you letter after an interview or other personal interaction. Show the people you met that you appreciate their time and attention. Thank-you letters can be sent via e-mail, a hand-written note, or formal letter. For more information on thank you letters visit here.

Effective E-mailing

Don’t use an unprofessional e-mail address (e.g., The recipient could delete the message thinking it’s spam or porn. In fact, employers tell us hotmail addresses almost always end up in their junk folders! Your university e-mail or a Gmail account is the best bet.

Include a meaningful subject line that makes it clear what will be covered in the message, such as “Jose Vega—Confirming Friday Interview Time” or “MSU Food Science Junior Seeking Information.” 

Be sure to include your full name and contact information in each e-mail.

Remember that there is no guarantee that an e-mail is private.

When replying to a message, include the previous message in your response. Keeping the thread of the discussion together will help both you and your contact to follow the course of your e-mail discussion.

Re-read and spell-check every e-mail before you hit “send”. Sadly, employers say they’ve received e-mails from students (or recent grads) that are so casual and/or full of grammatical and spelling errors that they just hit “delete.” Sadder still, employers who are alumni have said these messages hurt their Spartan pride. Remember, you play a role in keeping MSU’s reputation strong!