- Carefully consider every email you send to a potential employer as part of the interview process. The employer will judge whether or not you know how to conduct yourself as a professional based on how you present yourself.
- Don’t tell your life story. You’re asking for a job, not pitching a novel. Keep all information relevant. If the employer would like more information about you, they will request it.
If the job ad asks for any specific information or documents, make sure you provide them in the email. Additionally, make sure documents are named as something appropriate. Resumes should be labelled as “Resume” or “John Smith – Resume” instead of “Johnny’s resume” or anything else. If they ask for specific documents, such as your resume or a copy of your qualifications, and you neglect to include them, you are showing them that you don’t follow instructions very well, which is not a good first impression.
When writing to a manager or co-worker:
- Write as if you are speaking to them. If you have a casual, friendly rapport with that person, it’s ok to write in a more casual manner. However, if you have a very formal, professional rapport with the person, then make sure your email communication reflects that.
- Try to be as helpful as you can. If you can’t help, explain why or redirect them to someone who can. If you would like to help, but are simply too busy, it’s ok to explain that in a professional way.
- If you’ve made a mistake, take responsibility and apologise. Do everything you can to make it right.
- Never discuss personal information using your professional email. If you want to discuss matters unrelated to work with a co-worker, it’s best to establish another method of communication, such as exchanging mobile numbers or personal email addresses or becoming friends on Facebook.
When writing to a client:
- Always use your company’s approved signature. Most companies will encourage this to assist with branding.
- Take their requests seriously. If you can’t assist, explain why or direct them to an alternative contact or resource. You never want to seem unhelpful or uncooperative.
- Remember that you represent your company when you email external clients. Their interactions with you may affect whether or not they continue to do business with your firm and how they talk about your company to their colleagues. Think of each email to a client as a business meeting.
- Do not overwhelm clients with emails. Try to combine all info into as few emails as possible, as it’s more efficient and easier for the client to refer to later. Clients could become annoyed if they feel as if you’re pestering them all the time with endless emails.
- Be respectful! Even if the person you’re corresponding with hasn’t been respectful to you, it’s important that you keep your emails professional.
- Don’t be overly casual unless you truly have a rapport with the person. If you try to force it, this can be interpreted as disrespectful.
- Remember that emails are a written record. This means that anyone you correspond with could forward your message to someone else. You never really know who will see your emails, so make sure all content is appropriate. Additionally, if you’re using your employer’s email server, chances are your employer can also access and search your emails. Keep that in mind when deciding what to write in an email. Never complain or being overly negative in your email communications, and most definitely never be insulting!
- Emails are not texts! When crafting a professional email, whether it’s for a potential new employer, client, co-worker, or your boss, the message should be written in complete sentences and free of emojis and shorthand.
- Begin with a friendly opening.
- Consider how you would like your email answered. If you’d like a polite response, make sure your tone is polite. If you need a reply fairly urgently, make sure you inform the person that the matter is urgent. If you want or need more information, make sure that you clearly ask for it.
- Use a classic, easy-to-read font.
In my own experience from hiring people for my department, I know that first impressions from emails can greatly impact my decision on whether or not to call someone for an interview. You want to give yourself every possible advantage, so why risk ruining what could be a great opportunity by throwing together a poorly prepared introductory email?
Here is the basic structure of a professional email:
Let’s check out these examples: Good:
- Acknowledges a request that’s been made and explaining politely why the writer can’t accommodate
- The writer does not actually say no, but explains their reasoning and welcomes further discussion
- Proper structure and style
- Thanks the reader
- Polite and calm tone
- Proper style and structure
- Apologises for inconvenience
- Thanks the customer for the comment
- Addresses and resolves the concern
- Represents the company in a professional manner