Graduating college and entering the workforce is such an exciting time but transitioning to “the real world” takes some adjusting. These business email etiquette tips can help you send smart emails whether you’re in the job search stage or starting your career at a new company.
Let’s face it, the clever email address you created in 8th grade might not be the best for communicating during your job search and beyond. Before you send an email to a potential job or client, you’ll want to be sure that your email account is named professionally. In general, you should stick with some format of your name using a trusted email provider like Gmail or Outlook.
No list of email etiquette tips would be complete without discussing the subject line of your email. The subject line can serve multiple purposes. Not only does it give the recipient some idea of the topic of the email, but it can also be used by the recipient to search for the email in their inbox later. Plus, it often serves as a first impression. That’s why it’s so important to be as specific as possible in the subject line. If, for example, you’re sending your resume to a potential employer, you’ll want to include both your name and “Resume” in the subject line.
It can be tempting to get right down to business when sending an email but doing so can come off as cold and detached. Instead, make sure to start off with some pleasantries. If, for example, you’re sending your resume to a potential employer or sending out a sales pitch to a potential client, take the time to introduce yourself at the beginning. If you’ve already corresponded, take a moment to tell them that you hope they’re having a great week, weekend, holiday, etc.
One of our favorite business email etiquette tips is to focus on clarity. Not only does an unclear email make the sender look bad, but it also creates more work for the recipient, as they’re then put in the position of asking questions. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your emails are as clear as possible. Before you send, make sure that the recipient has enough context to respond and try to anticipate any questions they might have before they have to ask them.
While to some degree, your emails should sound friendly and conversational, proper email etiquette suggests you avoid slang and acronyms like LOL, BRB, or TTYL. Not only can they cause confusion, but they can come off as unprofessional.
Before you send a message, you should carefully proofread your email. While this likely sounds like the most obvious of our business email etiquette tips, it’s perhaps the most important because spelling and grammar mistakes can make you look like you lack an attention to detail or that you’re not giving the email proper time and energy. And if you misspell someone’s name, it can even be interpreted as a lack of respect.
If you struggle with grammar and spelling, try running your email through a program like Grammarly that checks for common problems. We also recommend reading your email out loud to yourself, as this can often help you find errors you might have otherwise missed.
If you’re sending an attachment, you’ll want to be careful. First of all, you’ll want to make sure you’ve actually included any attachments you promised. Secondly, you’ll want to make sure that they’re in an easy-to-read format. When it comes email etiquette for sending resumes and other important documents, you’ll want to send them as a PDF so that you know the recipient won’t run into any formatting issues.
Once you’ve sent your email, you’ll want to make sure to regularly check your inbox for a response. If, for example, a company wants to schedule an interview with you, you’ll want to respect their time by responding in a timely manner.
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