Email is an important communication tool in our modern age, especially in professional settings. So, if you think it doesn’t matter how email is formatted, think again!
Fundamentally, an email is a formal method of communication. An email can be the first impression you make on a recruiter, a colleague, or a professional contact in your industry. Therefore, it’s essential that you develop good email etiquette so that the message you send matches your intention.
Here is a handy checklist you can follow to ensure that your emails are written to impress!
1. Create A Professional Email Address
Let’s face it – we all have those old, quirky email addresses we created in high school to sound cool. Although firstname.lastname@example.org might fly in World of Warcraft, an email from this address is destined to crash land straight into spam folders!
A combination of your first and last names with a symbol works best (e.g. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). You may use a number only if all other email combinations are taken. This ensures that you come across professionally and your recruiter or future employer remembers who you are when you send them an email.
2. Use “Reply-All”
Get into the habit of checking who has been copied into your emails. You may be communicating primarily with a single person, but if they’ve copied their colleagues into the email, there is a high likelihood that those people have some involvement in your recruitment process or professional projects. When you respond to that email, use the reply-all function to avoid leaving the copied colleagues out of the conversation.
That being said, don’t spam everyone when there is no need to. If you have a question regarding an email that was addressed to all staff, don’t reply to everyone in that list! Use your best judgement and always double-check before you send.
3. Use A Clear Subject Line
A subject line is the first thing that people read when an email lands in their inbox. It needs to reflect the contents of the email accurately so that the receiver can anticipate exactly what it contains. You can scan the body of your drafted email for keywords and use them coherently in the subject line. Make sure the subject line is limited to six or seven words, otherwise it will disappear from the inbox view.
Another tip: Capitalise the First Letter of Important Words.
4. Include Polite Salutations
An email is a professional piece of communication that is specifically and purposefully written for the receiver. To honour this, start your email with a polite greeting for the receiver (e.g. Dear , Hi ). Writing an email without a salutation is akin to answering the phone without saying “hello”.
It is also important to end your emails with a salutation. Depending on your audience, you may use ‘Kind regards’, ‘Thanks and regards’, ‘Cheers’, etc. followed by your name to sign off your email.
5. Proofread Your Email Before You Hit Send
“Typos! Who cares? Everyone knows we’re busy; they’ll understand what I mean!”
Sure, I understand your argument. But remember the point we mentioned about making impressions? You certainly won’t be making a good impression if your email is full of typos and the quality has not been checked before sending it out. Turn your spell-checker on in your email settings and your computer will do the proofreading for you! This is an easy problem to fix and it should take only a few seconds to glance over your email before you hit send.
Swathi Stirling is part of the placement team at Outcome.Life in which she talks to new students and host companies every day about the importance of work-integrated learning. Once an international student herself, she is passionate about connecting with international students and sharing with them how she navigated the same path and kickstarted her career. She also loves creative writing.
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