Should I Send That or Not: Tips on Email Etiquette

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Should I Send That or Not: Tips on Email Etiquette

This is a guest blog from Jacqueline. She is an Advertising major studying at FSU.

In this day and age where Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are the primary means of getting our thoughts out into writing, it is difficult to remember how to correspond with professionals online. When I first started my internship, and began emailing prospective companies, I would often get stuck and anxious. I would reread my email a dozen times over to make absolutely sure that there were no spelling or grammatical errors, and I still do! Overtime as I got into the groove of contacting employers there were a few simple rules that I’ve set for myself for contacting through email.

1.     Greeting and Signature. For the first email, address them as “Dear….(Dr, Prof, Mr., Ms)”. Do not email them saying “Hi Clarissa”. It is important that you address them with appropriateness; you don’t want to come off unprofessional.  Once you correspond with them further it would be okay to use Hello instead of Dear, sometimes you can just say their name with a comma after it and then start your email. As for signatures, it is always best to make it reflect what the email was about. Are they doing you a favor? Did you just have an interview? A simple “Thank you” is always a good sign off, there is also “Sincerely”, “Take care”, “Best regards”, “Look forward to ….” As long as you keep it polite, thankful, and respectful.

2.     Attachments. When you are emailing a recruiter of internships, you must understand that you do not immediately send your resume and cover letter unless they ask. Many people will not open your attachment if you do not notify them or if they don’t know you. I usually send an email first inquiring about the job or internship. When or if the recruiter tells you to email them with your resume, then you can do so. Usually if the email is set aside specifically for internships they will say “send your resumes and cover letters to internship@blah.com” That is the only time that I will put the attachments in my email.

3.     Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling. This is a big deal and most of you should already know this. Some computers have automatic spell check, but some do not. So when you’re typing out your email, pay special attention to spelling and such words as your and their. Often times people will say “you’re” instead of “your” or “their” instead of “there”. Another thing to note is run on sentences; I sometimes still have problems with these. You can usually break it up into two sentences, put a comma, or semi colon. It is important to understand the proper use of a semi colon, not to be confused with a comma.

4.     Cc:, Bcc:, and To: For a while I had no idea what Cc: or Bcc: was. I would simply ignore it and just type into the To: box. When you’re typing in email addresses in the to box, that means you expect the person to respond. If you type the email address in the Cc box, that means you want to update that person or inform them, but do not expect a response. You are basically sending a carbon copy (Cc) to the person. Bcc is the same as Cc except that the person you’re sending the email to doesn&t see the email address of the person you’re updating. That means that the “to” person doesn’t know someone else is being updated; that’s why it is called a “blind carbon copy”. It is proper etiquette to inform someone at the bottom of the email when you Cc someone. You can also inform them if you Bcc someone, but mention them by name and not email.

5.     Format and content. I made this rule for myself recently to not try and format my emails. Usually I would type my emails out in the box until it went to the second line automatically, however I decided once to make the lines of my email shorter and break them up myself. I saw one person who did this when they emailed me and I liked that it was easier to read. What I did not know was that Gmail automatically changed it when I sent it. Here’s a picture:

As you can see it made reading my email very awkward. Needless to say it was embarrassing.  As for content, as a general I try to keep it short and to the point. Often times the person on the other end doesn’t have time to read two paragraphs. Keep in mind that some people read their email on their phone also.

6.     My last piece of advice is to proof read! I can’t stress this enough. I still proof read my email at least twice before hitting the send button. You want to make sure that everything is exactly how you want it to be; the tone, spelling, grammar, content, etc. Proof reading is the number one preventer of bad emails.

Of course there exceptions to every rule, but if you just remember to keep it respectful and simple then the rest is easy!