Writing a Professional Email

image of man typing on on a laptop

Despite the growth of communication through social media and texting, email still remains the most common method of business communication. As you communicate with employers and network with other professionals, email will be your primary communication. You will likely send emails when applying for jobs, such as when you send your cover letters and résumés or follow up on interviews. Learning to write a proper, professional email will give potential employers a positive impression of your communication skills. Check out these tips for putting together an impressive email.

Create a Professional Email Address

The name you choose for your email address can drastically change an employer’s opinion of you. If you don’t have an email address that represents your professional side, create a new simple and straightforward address. Use variations of your first, middle, and last name. Avoid cutesy or immature email addresses. You don’t want to send the wrong message about who you are or cause employers to question your capability.

Write a Meaningful Subject Line

The subject line is the first thing employers will see, and it will make or break whether your email gets read. Write a subject line with a topic that means something. The subject line should say who you are and what your purpose is. Try following the “name—purpose” rule. For example, if you are asking about a job at a computer software company, you might write:

Your Name—Software Engineer Job Opening

Address Your Emails Appropriately

Always begin an email with a greeting that includes either the recipient’s first and last name or his or her appropriate title, such as Mr., Ms., Dr., or Professor. Try not to use generic salutations such as, “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam,” unless you cannot find the name of the person you are sending the email to. Your relationship with the recipient is formal, so do not use casual greetings, such as “Hey” or “Hi.” Use greetings that show respect for the person who is reading your email.

Be Clear and Concise

Know the purpose of your email. A purposeful email shows confidence in yourself and what you have to offer. On the other hand, an email that lacks thought and preparation can cause misunderstanding. You don’t want to waste either your time or your recipient’s time. Before you start writing, take a moment and ask yourself these questions: Why am I sending this email? What do I need from the recipient?

Be concise. The body of an email needs to be clear and to the point. Try limiting yourself to one or two short paragraphs. Put the most important information in your opening sentence. Remember that most readers will quit reading if the email is too long. Each email you write should be focused on only one topic. This will reduce confusion and increase your chances of getting a quick response.

Practice empathy and do not be demanding. As you write, keep the recipient’s thoughts and feelings in mind. Adjust the tone to fit the situation and the request you are sending. While it is necessary to show employers and professionals you are qualified for the job, it is also important to keep your confidence within bounds so that you do not appear rude or disrespectful. As you reread your email, ask yourself, “How would this sentence make me feel? How would I interpret this email if I were the one receiving it?”

End Your Email Appropriately

Just like the salutation of your email, your closing should also be professional. For example, “Kind regards,” “Sincerely,” or a simple “Thank you” are all good closings to an email. Avoid informal closings, such as “Cheers” or “Best.” In addition to ending your email with an appropriate closing and your name, make sure to include contact information, so that the reader can respond.

Proofread Your Email before Sending

The most common mistakes when writing professional emails are spelling and grammar errors. These mistakes can leave the reader thinking you were careless or clueless. Don’t assume spell check will catch all your mistakes. Make sure to proofread, edit, and attach needed documents before hitting send. You could also ask someone else to proofread your email to double-check.

By following these tips on how to write a clear and concise email, employers will see you as a person who can confidently communicate in the professional world.


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