Dear Students, Don’t “Hey” Me

Smedstad-HeadshotShannon Smedstad, Employment Brand Director, Global Communications & Engagement Team, CEB
Twitter: @shannonsmedstad
Blogs from Shannon Smedstad.

I can recall my mother telling me, “Don’t ‘hey’ me,” when I was a teenager. This was her go-to response after I would start a statement or question with “Hey, Mom.” To her, it was too casual. “Hey” was something you said to your friends, not to your parents. Or it was something horses eat.

Many years later, I find myself thinking the same thing when college students begin job-related messages using the word “Hey.” During my time as a campus recruiter, I recall receiving too many e-mails beginning with “Hey, Shannon.” Now, in my work in employment branding and social media, I still receive the occasional, “Hey.” Recently, I received and responded to a direct message via Facebook that read:

“Hey. I’m an undergraduate management student. Looking for summer internship. How do I approach it?”

What I wanted to say was, “Let’s start the conversation by being a bit more professional, as this will help you greatly during the job-search and interview process.” But alas, I didn’t.

Are students too casual when writing to or engaging with recruiters? Is it OK to be casual or is this a pet peeve that we can collectively nip in the bud? My hope is for the latter. My simple request is that career center staff (and professors and parents) will coach their students not to address company representatives or people with corporate social media using “Hey.”

Job Seeker Tip! Don’t address your e-mails and cover letters with “Hey, Recruiter.” Be more professional. Up your game. #careeradvice

Job Search Tip of the Day: Do not begin e-mails, cover letters, and conversations with recruiters or hiring managers using “Hey.” It’s way too casual. Throughout your job search strive to be friendly, conversational, and professional.

Maybe this bit of advice is something that is shared during Job-Search 101 sessions or mock-interview days. Or, maybe I’m just getting old.

What do you think? Is it OK to address a recruiter with “Hey?” Share your thoughts in the comments.

5 thoughts on “Dear Students, Don’t “Hey” Me

  1. Maybe it’s easier to replace a word with another while trying to break a habit. I tend to start with Hi, insert name, and then take off on my statements or questions. Perhaps “Hi” is too relaxed but I only use that when I already have a connection with them.

  2. Hello All: Yo! Like what is wrong with ‘Hey’!

    Great article Shannon. Yes we in CS try to instill a sense of professionalism in our students, but talk as we may, it must come down to the individuals themselves. Either they will act like a Pro…or they will act like a Jamoke.

    If they choose to be a Jamoke, perhaps this scenario will await them: “Hey, like over here pal, like where is my double mocha latte, cinnamon, skim, extra foam?” I bet after a few months of hearing this, the Jamoke will drop the ‘hey’ from their vocabulary.

  3. mm.. I think you can hey other people with you get to know them more.. When you contact a person who you’ve never met, you need to be professional and polite.

  4. Hello Shannon;
    I like your article and believe it has merit, from the stand point that some college students tend to be too casual when approaching a recruiter or an employer. As a Career Counselor, I always emphasis my students to be courteous and proper when engaging any person during their job search.

  5. There is a place and a time for Hey, and looking for internship or a job it is not the venue to use it. It is like being dressed in beachwear while going to a job interview, it does not belong. When joining a professional organization or looking for job leads, anything career focused or professionally focused, it is not appropriate to call recruiter “Hey”, along with IDK, TMI or BFF, leave those to your friends and family.

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