Like all forms of business communication, much of the back-and-forth between job-seekers and hiring managers has gone electronic. It’s fast and convenient, but there is a downside; people on both sides of the hiring process sometimes end up sending very important messages without really thinking about their email etiquette.
When communicating with existing colleagues and business contacts, a poorly crafted message can be confusing or mildly annoying; but for a prospective employer, bad email manners could be a real barrier between you and a shiny new job.
Here are five things you’ll need to create a clear, concise professional emails that will get your point across and make you look like the pro you are.
A Clear Subject
If you are the originator of a message, it is important to begin by picking a subject line that accurately reflects the conversation you are about to have. Leaving the subject blank, typing out something vague or writing the body of your email in the subject line is jarring and uncomfortable to the reader, and it only gets worse the longer the conversation goes on.
A Simple Salutation
We often send very informal messages to our friends or loved ones, which has conditioned some people to write business emails with more personal greetings, or worse, no formal greeting at all. Avoid this trap by beginning each email with an acknowledgement of the person you are addressing. You’ll never be penalized for being too formal, but starting a message with “Hey” or jumping right in like you’re texting from your car can come across rushed and careless.
While we’re on the topic of text messages; it’s best to leave the “OMGs” and “ROFLs” on your phone where they belong. It might sound silly to millennials, but there are some people in the workforce who won’t even know what you are trying so say and even those who do will be wishing you had chosen a more professional way to get your point across.
Even for professional writers, too much expository text makes it more likely your email will be misunderstood or ignored. Assume your reader has a short attention span. Break up important points into short sentences and consider using bullet points, especially if your message includes lots of information or a series of steps that need to be completed. Start thinking of your business emails less as “letters” and more as “briefings” or “memorandums.”
A Warm Tone
It’s a bit of a catch 22 – you have to be concise to be understood, but in the rush to “get to the point” some messages can come across curt or impatient; and since your reader can’t see your face or hear your voice, they are much less likely to appreciate your subtle humor or dry wit. Fortunately, you can compensate for the natural tone-deafness of email by being extra friendly. You may feel like you’re going overboard but trust me, it won’t seem nearly as exaggerated to the reader.
An Eye For Proofreading
Quick communication mediums like text and email seem to be the natural enemy of good grammar and punctuation. Anyone who is being honest will tell you we all struggle to proofread every email we write before hitting send. Nevertheless, business emails should be double-checked for accuracy just like any other important document. This is especially true when a new job hangs in the balance. A potential employer will likely tolerate a few slipups, but they are going to notice if you repeatedly use “your” instead of “you’re” or if your thank you message reads like a midnight Facebook post.
Work these five concepts into your business emails and you’ll have no trouble getting your point across. Now, put those excellent communication skills to work by checking out one of the many exciting positions on the JumpStart job board.