Whether you’re a job-seeker or an experienced manager, written correspondences impact your professional growth. While emails are often a quick way to communicate, it’s important to pay attention to your email’s details. Emails can color the way a professional contact thinks of you before you ever meet face-to-face.
Always include a greeting and a closing. In our rushed world, I can’t tell you how often I see emails that don’t bother to include a simple opening. “Hi [insert name of professional contact] suffices. Addressing your email to the recipient is a simple way to show you are engaging thoughtfully and politely with the person on the receiving end. If you’re unsure whether to address the recipient by first name or by title, err on the side of formality. If they don’t have an official title, Mr. or Ms. demonstrates professionalism and respect. Also, including a closing completes your email. “Regards” “Best Regards” and “Kind Regards” are all appropriately professional and friendly. In the subject line, make sure to include your topic.
Make sure you answer all questions addressed to you. Emails containing multiple questions can be tricky to answer, but it’s worth making the extra effort to ensure that you respond comprehensively. It shows you’re a careful reader, which suggests you’re a strong listener—an important trait in every professional setting.
Be concise. Even as you make sure to address all questions, do so in as few words as possible without sacrificing relevant information.
Keep your tone professional and friendly. The worst mistake professionals can make is being too informal in an email or face-to-face correspondence. Think of the email opening and closing as a handshake. You wouldn’t high-five your potential employer or employee at the start of your interview; it would clearly be inappropriate. You also wouldn’t use slang words or too many fillers (“um,” “uh”) as you explain the workings of your office or why you’re the best person for the job. Your email should reflect the mature and qualified presence you worked hard to cultivate. In an email, your words do all the work for you, so it’s worth spending time to make sure your communications are thoughtful, articulate, and appropriately friendly.
Read over your email before you send it. You may find a grammatical or spelling error to fix. Most email servers have auto-correct, an often-helpful tool to avoid embarrassing mistakes (but don’t overly-trust auto-correct, since these systems are better at detecting spelling than grammatical errors). You may also find other, bigger problems with your first email draft. On a second reading, you may decide to change your wording, omit entire sentences, or clarify something. Second readings can help you catch these mistakes before it’s too late! I also recommend reading your email out loud to yourself, to make sure the grammar and tone are the best they can be. And if you still have doubts, asking someone you trust to read over your email can also help. Job seekers will find that elevating their email style will go a long way in impressing a potential employer. Conversely, managers attract top talent in a competitive market through their professionalism, including written correspondences. Following these tips will help solidify the strong professional relationships we all need for success.