Email is still the most widely used communication platform for workplaces and businesses so it’s important you can use it appropriately to appear professional and organised.

Whether you’re applying for a job or contacting a senior member of staff in your workplace, you’ll want to put your best foot forward in your emails and make yourself look competent. Emails say a lot about you and how the other person may perceive you. So if you’re unemployed, a business owner, sales rep or new to a company, perfecting your email habits is always a good idea.

Here are some of our tips for writing professional emails:

Create a professional email address

Your email address should be simple so that it can tell the recipient who you are. Perhaps this is your first correspondence with this person. At first glance, they may not have any idea who is sending them an email unless it’s in your address. Keep it basic, with just your first and last name if possible, and you can add numbers or punctuation if your full name is already taken and not available.

Bear in mind that if you’re still using the same email address from 2005 and you’re sending emails from crazychick1990@hotmail.com, you probably won’t garner the professional respect you’re looking for.

Add a signature

Creating an email signature is an easy way to add a professional touch to your email while also saving yourself a bit of time. Add your name, title, company name, contact information and even your social media or website links. This way the individual receiving the email will know exactly who you are and what your role is at the company.

Don’t forget to match your desktop signature to all of your devices because it looks very unprofessional if you send an email signed ‘Sent from my iPhone’. Keep them all the same so that there is cohesion among your communication.

Use the correct jargon

When writing an email in a business manner, it’s important that you use the correct terminology that is generally considered workplace appropriate. A pleasant greeting like ‘Good Morning, Anna’ is a lot better than just ‘Hi’ but try and fit into the etiquette that the workplace normally uses.

If you are sending an email about a job, something a bit more formal would fit well, such as ‘Dear Hiring Manager’. Try and use your common sense to determine what would be appropriate, as long as you’re nice and polite, you’ll probably be okay.

This also goes for the body of the email and the sign-off. Be precise, direct and accurate and finish with ‘Many thanks’ or ‘Kind regards’ and avoid using exclamatory punctuation.

Refer to the email you’re replying to

Most email platforms make it easy for you to view the original email while you’re writing a reply, so use this feature to check back and confirm any details. Make sure that you’re addressing the person by their correct name and pronouns and that you’ve spelt it all right. Double-check before you send the email that you’ve answered all the questions, as a follow-up email because you forgot something doesn’t paint you as an organised individual.

Check the attachments

Lots of things could go wrong with your attachments so check again before you send the email. It’s best to check that you’ve attached it in the correct format, if they want a PDF, check that’s how you exported it. Also, make sure that it is actually the correct document and you haven’t accidentally added something else entirely.

Don’t forget about them either, it can be easy to get absorbed in the writing of the email that you end up saying ‘please find attached’ without actually attaching the document.

Keep it short

Professional emails don’t need to contain a lengthy essay, your busy reader would much rather the email is kept brief and to the point so that they can get on with other things. It can also get confusing if you’re rambling on because the key information isn’t clear. Say what you need to say and don’t ruffle it up with unnecessary fluff. A good rule of thumb for a work email is to generally try and stick to 200 words.

Although, if you have a lot you need to say or ask your recipient, make sure you include all of this, just make it as clear as possible. Use bullet points if you have a lot of questions to make them easy to understand.

Use templates

If you find you are regularly asked the same things, you can create templates for frequently asked questions so that you can reply much faster. This way you can open up the template and just tweak some of the information such as the name. Take your top three emails that you are always replying to and formulate a response for each of them.

Utilise the subject line

If you need to grab somebody’s attention, this is often your only chance to make them click on your email.  It’s also the best way to let the recipient know exactly what your email is about and what you need from them so that they can get a glimpse of what the email is going to cover before they even open it.

It’s also very helpful for future reference if the subject line is clear so that the email can be found easily when searched for. Decide what is likely to make them feel they need to read the email and add that as the subject line. If you’re applying for a job, a good subject line is writing your name, the job title and application, so that the employer can sift through emails quickly and will be able to recognise your name next time they see it.

Proofread

Once you’ve finished writing your email, go back through and double-check everything. Are you sending it to the right person, have you answered all the questions, is the attachment correct and is your spelling and grammar accurate?

Once you have sent the email you can’t take it back and it can then be forwarded to many people. So make sure that you’re happy with what you’ve chosen to say and how you’ve said it. It’s a good idea to consider what you’re saying in every email you send but particularly ones where you have said something a bit more controversial, the last thing you want is to get yourself in trouble for saying something you shouldn’t have.

Think about your timing

Occasionally we may come across emails we don’t want to answer, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to respond to them promptly. Often these types of emails are the ones we should reply to quickly to sort out any issues or discrepancies.

Rather than putting off an email and deciding to answer it later, formulate a draft and proofread your response before sending it. This way you’re less likely to forget to respond to it and can sort the situation out quicker.

Set up an auto-response

If you’re going to be off for a day or are taking a two-week holiday, you don’t want people wondering why you’re ignoring them. Creating a response for when you’re out of the office will help people know where you are and why you aren’t replying. Even if you’re only finishing work a couple of hours early, if someone was hoping to get in touch with you, this can be very frustrating for them to not know where you are. It won’t take long to set this up and can make you look much more professional to your colleagues and clients.

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