You may think the days of writing letters are over, but in reality, it has merely transferred from pen to keyboard. Keeping an email professional can be somewhat difficult, especially when we use computers, laptops and smart phones during our leisure time. Text message slang and Internet lingo are often unintentionally fused with emails that are meant to be strictly professional.
Here are some tips to keep in mind, the next time you have an important email to compose:
The Subject Line matters
As tempting as it is to write "Hi" in the subject box, do not give in to the temptation! Your email's subject line is, next to your name, the very first thing the recipient sees. It is important that you do not do the following:
- Say "Hi" or "Hello"
- Be wordy
- Arouse interest or curiosity
- Respond without giving context
- Be vague or general
The subject should be precise, yet provide the message's bottom line. For example, if you invite someone to a conference, you could write: "Invitation: Leadership Conference, New York July 1-3" rather than a plain "Leadership Conference".
Salutations are important
Opening up an email with "Hey _____" or no greeting at all, will be noticed by the recipient, especially if it is a Professor or Job Recruiter. Figure out who exactly you are writing to and include proper titles, whether it is Dr., Mrs., or Professor.
Also, you want to put the main point in the opening sentence, because readers will not stick around for a surprise ending. Think of it as having only seven seconds to grab the recipient's full attention... so make those seconds count!
There's nothing more annoying than a sloppy email. You need to have a sense of flow and keep your thoughts together, so that the reader is not confused. Writing one big paragraph from top to bottom is one of the worst things you can do as well. This will most likely cause the recipient to lean forward, squint at the screen and try to separate all the sentences that are too close together. Line breaks are necessary, if you want to reader to read your email with ease.
Be brief and polite
It's very easy to get carried away with our writing, but anything longer than two or three paragraphs, consider reducing the message or providing an attachment. Keep in mind that a very long email is not very appealing to many employers and/or professors. Some employers are just too busy to read a seemingly long email and will often put it on hold until later, or they may end up skimming the email and miss vital information that you wanted to stand out from the start.
Also, remember to say "please" and "thank you" at appropriate times and mean it!
NO slang or acronyms
Leave the Internet chat room slang and Facebook acronyms where they belong! "Lol" may not fly very well with your recipient-whether he or she is of an older generation or not. Professionals expect nothing but professional behavior.
Edit. Proofread. Edit. Proofread.
It cannot be stated enough: PROOFREAD and EDIT! Edit and Proofread! This must be done before hitting the "send" button. Your reader will not appreciate careless errors and spelling mistakes in a simple email whatsoever, and it may thwart your chances at landing that job interview or possible promotion.
If you tend to have an impulsive tendency to hit the "send" key immediately after composing an email, consider changing the settings to prompt you with a "Are you sure you want to send the message?" pop-up. This will remind you to proofread if you didn't before.
Your Signature matters too
Maybe your email default already has your first name or nickname, with a snazzy quote at the bottom; which is fine for your personal email, but as far as professionalism goes, you may need to do some tweaks.
Your signature should include your first and last name, with appropriate contact information underneath (which would be your phone number and email address). The quotation you have may cause a little too much clutter, so removing that isn't such a bad idea.
Allow your email to reflect a thorough individual and not an imprudent one.