I recently attended the Land 8 Lounge webinar about getting jobs in the industry and standing out; the guest Lara said that emailing was they way to go these days for contacting people and especially herself.  If I was applying to a post then I would follow what they request of course, but I am talking about approaching firms  that may not have a job posting. 

My profs at university are insisting that if I were to apply to any of the baby boomer generation, those who head a large portion of firms currently, that mail is the way to go and that they wouldn't even give an email a serious thought.  Lara is definitely younger than these baby boomers, so am I to judge people by their age?!?

I'm torn... am I to assume that if I see a grey hair on an individual that I'm supposed to use mail over email?  What are your opinions?

Tags: ageism, email, mail, portfolio, resume

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I have not applied for a job lately, but I send proposals and invoices by email and US Mail. I start the email out with "Please find the attached pdf file of ... .. A hardcopy is also being sent by mail". This allows me to do both without having it appear that I'm being pushy or impatient. It should be no different with a job ap.


Email is fast, but hardcopies are professional.



I'm with Andrew, both.  Email allows larger firms to pass on to multiple people in the office faster, it also allows them to pass on to their contacts.  Hard copies can be kept on a "to be considered later" pile if they keep one (believe it or not some places keep a "ranked" pile around for months).  It does depend on the firm, culture, and their current outlook so covering your bases with email, hard copy, phone call, and asking to schedule a visit is not a bad idea.

That is an interesting tactic, both!

your professors are wrong. most of those types of firms have hiring managers. digital is the way to go. good luck!

I've always found the most successful way is to send by email and then follow up with a phone call a day or two later. It shows you're actually motivated and not just sending out mass applications to every firm.

This appears to be a very common question, that in its broad sense is really about digital vs hard copy or old school vs new school (not inferring age here).  In my experience, I would send a hard copy, though sending both is not bad either.  Touch point is key here.  In addition, with a hard copy you have absolute quality control. i.e. how the colors and text read.  You will not have that control digitally with monitors all be calibrated differently.  Ask yourself this, if you were invited to a friend's wedding, would you rather have an actual invitation that you received in the mail, or an email/evite invitation?

Prrof reading and having someone else proof read your correspondence is not a bad idea either. In this day of texting, people get into writing habits that are less than what would be the best representation of one's self.


I agree that it is not a good idea to apply a standard operating proceedure to every LA firm. There are very old school people, very cutting edge, and everything in between. Unless there are clues to how they operate, give them your best shot from all angles at one. Something should land in the right place ... and repetition increases familiarity.

The bottom line is there is no single approach to please all of the people all of the time. Your profs are wrong to make such an absolute blanket statement, and I've had enough contacts and responses to prove it.  Age/generation alone does not decide this issue - it's one unto itself. Some people/firms are intensely anti-digital, some are playing the 'green' role and trying to minimize paper, and some don't care and are more concerned with the content than the media.

I use digital exclusively unless a firm's website or job posting specifically requests hardcopy only (or someone requests it as a follow-up to my initial contact). I do typically take a hardcopy to an interview to leave behind if they want it. In a general job search this is the best and most effective use of my resources - particularly time and money.

I'm a practitioner and a prof....and my opinion is that email is not always the way to go. I get tons of email every day, some of which are emails from prospective applicants but are way at the bottom of my inbox and will be weeks, even months before I even see them; most end up in my junk mail and just get purged. When you email, it can get forwarded easily yes...but most of the time to the wrong person (HR dept) who knows nothing about design and the skills sets needed for the current backlog of work. What I tell my students:

1. Contact the person by snail mail with a letter, resume, and a few work samples of your portfolio.Have a nice and professional letter about yourself and what you are looking for. Do some research on that firm and try to tailor your letter to why they would want to consider hiring you. If they like what they see, they will email you/call you.

2. After a few days, follow up with a phone call to make sure they received the information.

3. Email to thank them taking the time to speak with you and reviewing your material. A thank you card via snail mail doesn't hurt either.....I always keep thank you cards from prospective employees. It shows initiative and proactive follow up.

Digital is good....but it should not be the only vehicle used to get you out there. I get extremely frustrated viewing someones work on my blackberry.

Every form of communication tells two distinctly different things about you:  what you can do, and who you are.  An employer wants to know about both, usually in that order.   Email tells much about the first and very little about the second.  An interview is at the other end of the continuum.  In between are mail and phone conversations.  

A super cad monkey with the personality of a mineral may get a job through email/mail, but a personable glad-handing verbal communicator will get it through the phone/interview. While you will probably be required to go through all 4 stages, try to go with your strengths.  It does no good to make a phone call (because this is what is "done"), if you are not good at phone communication..... 

Email and mail can be overlapping, but mail can say a little more about you personally.  If you do send mail (especially in the form of introduction letter or thank yous), take time to pick your medium (paper type and weight, size, color, envelope style, watermark, etc), as these are the things which will communicate yourself before the message is even read.  And finally--and this is incredibly old school--know and follow the proper compositional form of a letter/thank you.

Thank you for all the replies, it is great to hear everyone's opinions!  Mark, you raise a great point about communicating personality.  Very helpful.

I have not really looked for a job in more than a decade, however, I do remember that when looking for my first job after graduating that my professors ( who in most cases had not been in the job market and working as a landscape architect in decades and really...lets face it... they are in a different field---which is  teaching) gave me all kinds of bad information about portfolio design and business contact etiquette at the time which was the nineties and email was just coming out.  That was a long time ago and email still the way to go then and now.  Most will not open attachments so you need to make sure it looks good in the body of an email.  Many times servers are so limited that you cannot send samples so you may need to set up a web address they can go to to see your portfolio and simple link.  for me when hiring or advertising if anyone sends me something by snail mail and does not email it - I think its weird.  Also faxing that is a definite no...I dont even know our fax number although we do have one.  I would say email and follow up with a phone call. 


Beware if ads that do no identify the firm as on craigslist where they can have an anon link...that is just stupid.   If someone puts out an ad for a position and does not expect to get phone calls or be contacted they are narcissits and thing they are better than  you and you dont want to work there.  That behavior is assuming their time is far more valuable than yours in the potential mutually beneficial relationship you BOTH hope to establish.  I can't stand the directive of 'no phone calls please'....  that attitude is probably the reason you need help in the first place--all your people walked out becuase you are an elitist and not interested in mentoring or talking to those coming up in the profession to even speak for five minutes.  If you put out an ad expect to spend a ton or your week for a week or two just responding to enquiries.  In the day, I used to at the very least get a thank you for my portfolio submission but I have heard that firms have such ill manners that they dont even acknowledge  the applicaion. That is wrong and hopefully firms that do this (most these days) are reading this.


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