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How to Send a Professional Email

8/8/14

During the job search, it’s common practice to focus on crafting perfect resumes and cover letters. But when it comes down to landing the job, there’s  much more work to be done. In addition to practicing answering interview questions and keeping your composure, how you communicate online is important to broadcasting your personal brand and professional image to employers.

It may seem silly, but it’s vital to capture the proper tone and write in an appropriate format when sending emails, even if they’re for something simple like double-checking your interview time. Recruiters are looking to see that you are a professional and proficient applicant in all areas.

A recruiter may contact you first by email in order to confirm your application and to schedule an interview. While you have already secured the interview, how you respond and converse online may prove to be an important factor if it ends up being a decision between you and another candidate.

Before you even start writing your response, make sure you have these items:

  • An appropriate email address

While it sounds simple, many candidates make their first mistake by having old and inappropriate email names from their youth. While it’s fine to have one for retail accounts and other information, it’s necessary to invest in a professional personal email account. It’s best to do a combination of your first name and last name, or first initial and last name. If you have a common name, consider integrating your middle initial.

For example: Mjamieadams@gmail.com

  • An email signature

The most important function of the signature is to provide the recipient of the email alternate ways to contact you. A U.S. News article recommends including  “your name, primary phone number, and job title, or work you’re seeking.” The article also suggests including the link to your LinkedIn profile if you have one. Only include the link if your profile is completed and up to date, otherwise it may work against you.

Once you have an appropriate email address and signature, began working on your message. Whether you’re the one initiating contact, or replying to a message, the following still apply:

1. The Subject Line

Title your email with something concise and that clearly explains the point of the message you are sending. An email etiquette article on Inc suggests that the email “be reasonably simple and descriptive of what you have written about. Expect that any e-mail with a cute, vague, or obscure subject will get trashed.”

2. Introduction

Always start with a greeting to the person you’re writing too, and include a brief pleasantry. This will help to keep the message from sounding too severe, or too much like an agenda. You should briefly introduce yourself if you do not know the person well because it is hard for professionals to remember the names of everyone they have ever interacted with. The Inc article suggests keeping the introduction very brief, and just reminding the recipient of your relation to them.

3. Body

Limit the body of the message to the topic mentioned in the subject line, and get your information out in as few words as possible. If possible, try to limit the body of the message to three to five sentences. This will keep the reader from getting overwhelmed, and streamline the process of getting a response to your email.

4. Close

End the email with a friendly closing. The National Institute of Health recommends using something along the lines of ” Regards, Best regards, Best wishes, Thanks, and Have a great weekend (if the weekend is coming.)”

Additionally, keep in mind that even though it is online, email is still often a professional medium and should be treated as such. Use exclamation points sparingly, if at all. Do not put anything in all capital letters, avoid using abbreviations or text-speak, and refrain from the use of smiley faces or emoticons.

By keeping your professional emails clean and concise, you’re much more likely to receive a reply. It will also help to position you positively in the mind of the person you’re communicating with. Emails are an important part of the workplace culture, and it’s important to treat them as such.

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