Nowadays most of our communication is through typing – text messages, status updates, emails, and the like. However, each medium has a different set of conventions to follow, especially when speaking to different audiences.
In any professional setting, on the job, communicating with a network connection, and especially with a potential employer, you need to make sure your emails sound professional and well-mannered. Below are some tips you should keep in mind the next time you send an email.
1. Professional Email Address
This is possibly the most important – if you don’t already, use a professional email address. There are several free email services, including Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. Choose something that includes your name so it will be easy to remember for both you and your contacts. For example: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to discontinue those addresses of your younger years – people will have trouble taking “superdude311” seriously. If you only have a company email address, you should also start a personal address for non-company related contacts and especially for job searching.
2. Clear Subject Lines
The subject line of an email should tell the recipient what is included in the email, being specific as well as simple. If you’re applying to a job, it’s best to use the position you are applying for as the subject.
3. Brush Up on Your English
Sounds obvious, but if you’re so used to using abbreviations and slang everywhere else, you’ll end up using it in your emails without even realizing it. Use correct grammar and punctuation, as well as intelligent language. You don’t have to speak like a literary genius, just eliminate the slang and abbreviations so others can understand you.
4. Small Paragraphs
To make your emails easier to read, opt for short paragraphs over long blocks of text. Your email should be easy for someone to scan for the important points. No one likes to read large chunks of text, especially on a computer screen. Also, make it easy for your reader to see the importance of your email by stating your main point in the opening sentence and being concise throughout. If they have to read the whole email to find your main point, chances are it won’t be read thoroughly or at all.
5. Watch Your Tone
In any text-based communication, tone of voice is hard to convey without hand gestures or vocal enunciation. Therefore, watch your tone in your emails – things like sarcasm are almost impossible to pick up on in text. Likewise, something you intend to write in a polite manner could be misconstrued for sarcasm or as something offensive. Just reading over your emails in a flat tone before you send will prevent most of these errors. If you’re writing a personal email, emoticons will help you to convey a joke – but avoid this in professional emails.
6. Courteous Sign Off & Signature
When ending your emails, make sure you use a professional sign off, like “Sincerely”, “Best regards”, or something similar. Use “Thank you” only if you are asking something of the recipient.
You should also use a signature that includes your full name and some of your contact information. Most often, people put their full name, phone number, email address, and maybe their professional title. Most email programs let you save a signature and will automatically place it at the end of your outgoing emails.
You could also use an application like WiseStamp to create signatures with extra add-ons, like links to your social network profiles or blog feeds. You can also create different signatures for different types of correspondence – like sending an email to a friend versus a potential employer.
So the next time you write a professional email, keep these tips in mind so your readers and especially any potential employers understand you and take you seriously.
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