Email: The Yin and the Yang of it!

Email Etiquette

By Wanda Parker-Smith, University Recruiting Program Manager

It doesn’t matter if you are a Millennial or a Baby Boomer — email etiquette reminders are always good to have in your back pocket. Like it or not, email is still the most commonly used communication in today’s workplace. I’ve seen it all in my tenure at Amtrak.

Heck, I remember when we didn’t even have email! Millennials, can you imagine?! Maybe that’s why I still believe in certain situations, a face-to-face or telephone conversation may be the best communication style. That’s lesson number one for my Millennial colleagues. Lesson number one for my Baby Boomer colleagues is sometimes email is safer and smarter, and sometimes you just have to adjust your communication style depending on with whom you are communicating.

I guess it’s the yin and the yang of communicating today. Without further adieu, below are a few tips from me on how to effectively communicate with your colleagues via email:


  • Identify why you are writing to the recipient(s) in the subject line.
  • Think about what you want to say before typing your message.
  • Keep your email message short and concise.
  • An email message is a reflection of you. Always read over your email message before hitting the “send” button.
  • Check your email often and respond to the sender in a timely fashion. If you need additional time to research an issue, acknowledge the email and let the sender know when you will have an answer.
  • Think about whether “emoticons” are appropriate when communicating with an executive in your organization.
  • Prepare an automatic response to senders when you will be absent from the office. Identify a contact person or provide your cell number if the sender needs immediate attention (good customer service skills).
  • Use Instant Message (IM) appropriately in the workplace. IM messages are designed to be short and to the point. If the receiver is unavailable to have a conversation, refrain from sending repetitive messages.


  • Hit the “respond to all” button if recipients don’t need to read your message.
  • Discipline or fire an employee via email.
  • Send an email when you are angry. Remember, emails can be saved and forwarded to other individuals in your organization.
  • Forward jokes, chain letters or other inappropriate emails to your colleagues.
  • Type your message in all “capital” letters (this is identified as yelling or shouting).
  • Use “jargon” (i.e., RRB) if the recipients are not familiar with your company’s terminology.

Bottom line…. if you have to think too hard before you send an email then perhaps a face-to-face or telephone conversation may be your best bet.  Just say’ in.

Hiring Events: What is your goal?

By Wanda Parker-Smith, University Recruiting Program Manager

hiring events

One way, to be successful at a job fair, is to go into the event with a goal. What is your goal? This is an important question. Is your goal for the hiring event to find a job; or is your goal to find a fulfilling career?

Employers meet a large number of potential candidates in a short period of time at hiring events. It’s easy to spot passionate people who are ready to begin their career, and it’s even easier to spot people who just want a job.

#AmtrakCareersTIP: You are not off to a good start if you begin your conversation with a company representative with the question, “what jobs do you have?” 

Recruiters are looking for candidates with a career focus. Explore career opportunities with a number of employers and focus on your qualifications and your future career goals.

Before the Career Fair:

  • Get a list of the companies that will be attending the career fair
  • Be open to looking at smaller companies – don’t focus your attention solely on well-known or large companies.
  • Identify the companies that are looking for candidates with your experience/degree. Research each company so you don’t waste your time meeting with companies that are not a good fit
  • Prepare questions to ask the employers.

Sample Questions:

  1. How many employees does your company have?
  2. How long does the hiring process take?
  3. How long have you been with the company?
  4. What percentage of applicants are eventually hired? What is the retention rate?
  5. How would you describe your organization’s culture? 
  6. Do you offer relocation?

During the Career Fair:

  • Map out your strategy. Look online to see where the company’s you are interested in are located onsite.
  • Dress appropriately, comb your hair and stand up straight!
  • Display good organizational skills. Many companies do not accept paper resumes these days but have a copy or two on hand just in case but don’t pull your resume wrinkled or folded out of your pocket or backpack. Invest in a nice professional bag or simply carry a plain folder with you.
  • Take notes and get names or business cards of the people you talk to.
  • Practice your introduction and remember your career goals. Ask your friends to help you practice your introduction before the event.
  • Make sure your handshake is firm and look the company representative in their eyes. Again, ask your friends to help you practice. No one likes a wimpy handshake!
  • Have your three or four sentences ready to go if you are asked, “Why did you visit Amtrak’s table today? Remember you are looking for a career not a just a job.
  • When you meet with the recruiter, spend your time wisely. Explain what you can do for Amtrak. Be concise and thorough explaining you feel you are qualified using real examples but don’t talk too much! Don’t rehash how long you’ve been out of work, how many resumes you’ve sent out and the number of interviews you’ve been on.
  • Follow instructions –if Amtrak is not taking resumes or conducting interviews on site, make sure you visit their website and apply online.
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities at the hiring events if available.

After the Career Fair:

  • Follow-up with the recruiter (via email, letter or phone call) to thank the recruiter for meeting with you.
  • Identify the hiring event where you met the recruiter and mention something to make the recruiter remember you (i.e., NJIT Spring Job Fair)
  • Express your interest in working for Amtrak and find out what are the next steps in the interviewing process (i.e., a face-to-face interview)

Hopefully, these tips have helped. Hiring events are great opportunities for you to visit with our team and to ask specific questions about our company. But don’t worry if you do not see a hiring event in your area, you can always search for and apply for your next career opportunity online at

A Successful Job Search Begins with Researching an Employer

Amtrak Career Site

By Wanda Parker-Smith, University Recruiting Program Manager

Applicants can fall short during an interview because they failed to do one important thing – research the organization. It’s important to be knowledgeable about the organization to which you are applying. A lack of knowledge could mean that you, the applicant, do not have an interest in the organization to which you are applying.

Do you have an interest in learning about Amtrak and career opportunities the company offers? If so, let’s get started. Visit Amtrak’s website to learn about its:

  1. History (who is Amtrak)
  2. Company Culture
  3. Commitment to Diversity and Inclusive Behavior
  4. Career Opportunities  and our commitment to hiring veterans
  5. Projects and/or Services
  6. 2014-2018 Strategic Plan

In addition to the company’s website, you can also gain valuable insight by connecting socially? Visit the company on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and join Amtrak’s discussion groups like the Amtrak Students or Amtrak Veterans groups and chat with #TeamAmtrak.

Don’t make the mistake of using up your valuable interview time by asking a question that can easily be answered by visiting the Amtrak website. Demonstrate to the interviewer that you’ve done your homework and Amtrak is a good fit for you.

Stand out from the crowd – research, research, research.

Social Media and Your #Amtrak Job Search


By Wanda Parker-Smith, University Recruiting Program Manager


Social media is a great job search tool. Like many companies, Amtrak is using social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to connect with potential candidates. Whether you are new to social media or not, here are five tips on how social media can help you get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers at Amtrak.

Tip 1:   Create a Professional Profile
What will Amtrak hiring managers think about your online resume?  Does it reflect who you are as a potential employee?

Tip 2:  Be Aware of the Keywords You Include in Your Profile.  It’s not uncommon for Amtrak and other employers to conduct key word searches to identify talent on professional sites such as LinkedIn.  Review your profile and online resume to ensure you have the key skill sets identified in order to land your next job.

Tip 3:  Display Photos and Information that will help you get a “Seat at the Table.”  Do not become a topic of conversation because of adverse comments and photos that you post on social media.

Tip 4:  There is a Difference between Personal and Professional. Create a professional photo and email address.  Remember, this information is telling employers (such as Amtrak) who you are a potential candidate.

Tip 5:  Proofread, Proofread, and Proofread.  The information you display on social media should be error-free.  Typically, you will get one chance to impress an employer – don’t blow the opportunity because of a misspelled word.

Now let’s connect! 

We have several options for connecting with the Amtrak Talent Acquisition team.

If you are a student:

Join our Linkedin Group

Follow us on Twitter

If you are a United States Veteran:

Follow us on Twitter

In general:

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Follow Amtrak on Linkedin

Add us to your circles on Google+

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

Get to know #TeamAmtrak on Tumblr

Follow us on Instagram

#AmtrakStudents: Your future is bright… let’s enjoy the ride together!


For more than 42 years, Amtrak has launched careers, inspired ideas and created opportunity for our nation. Whether you are a current college student or prospective or recent graduate – your future is bright. The skills you are learning now are an integral part of your future.

Our goal is to connect talented people to the Amtrak career opportunities that match them the best – whether you are just starting your career, looking for a new opportunity or an experienced career professional. To that end, we are very happy to share two new opportunities to connect with the Amtrak University Relations through social media.

Run, don’t walk, to be one of the first to join our Amtrak Students LinkedIn Group and follow us on Twitter @AmtrakStudents. Being one of the first to connect through these niche social spaces is an EXCELLENT way to stand out in getting the attention of our campus recruiting team!

Look for our #AmtrakStudent hashtag and icon (see blue box above!) as we continue to add new opportunities to connect with #TeamAmtrak through digital marketing!