Email Etiquette: Think Before You Type
Email is such a regular part of our daily routines that it's easy to forget about the basic "rules" around email etiquette, especially when you're on the job market and every single interaction you have with a potential employer is a chance to make a good (or bad!) impression. So, le'ts get back to the basics for email etiquette tips that never go out of style. Remember, good manners matter in a professional setting, including email, so remind yourself of these foundational rules of professional email sending to make sure you're presenting yourself in the best light to employers:
This is probably the most important part of an email. What you write here will determine whether the recipient opens your email. This means it’s a good idea to take the time to create a subject line that’s catchy and concise. You have to spark curiosity and lure the reader into the email. Mention the most crucial details first so it doesn’t get cut off.
To, Cc, Bcc.
Make sure you know the difference! Send the message to the right person. “To” should contain email contacts that you are directly addressing. You want these people to respond. “Cc” should contain contacts that you are indirectly addressing. You don’t expect these people to reply. “Bcc” is like “Cc” except these addresses are not visible to the other email recipients. For this reason, “Bcc” can be considered somewhat sly or unprincipled.
Reply and reply to all.
Be mindful. Make sure you’ve hit the right button. Nothing is more frustrating than a group of people getting an email that’s directed at a single person. Hit “Reply” to respond to one person. Hit “Reply to All” to respond to many people. If you click on the wrong one, you could wind up with an inbox full of annoyed contacts.
Dear, Hello, Hi, To…There is no absolute way to address a contact. For the most part, “Hi” and “Hello” are for personal emails, and “Dear” and “To” are reserved for business emails. But whether to use them is optional. In some cases, business people prefer to drop the title of Mr. or Mrs./Ms./Miss because it is overly formal and somewhat outdated. How to address business contacts can be tricky, especially if you don’t know them very well—or at all. Find out how the individual is usually addressed and go with that. Keep it gender neutral.
What the professionals say:
To/Dear [insert contact name]:
To whom it may concern:
To the recruitment department:
Dear human resources:
Dear hiring manager:
An electronic signature is similar to a name signed on paper. It seals the email. If you have a business email there is usually an attached letterhead that includes your name, title, company name, and contact information. You can add letterheads to personal email accounts too. Or, you can simply sign off with “Best,” “Regards,” or “Sincerely,” followed by your full name. You must understand the company culture in order to select an appropriate closing line. Refrain from using “Ciao” or “Cheers.” Stick to the same tone as the individual or company you’re contacting.
What the professionals say:
Yours in hospitality
Thank you for your time
Get to the point.
Don’t write a book! Just as emails are sent quickly, they’re skimmed through just as fast.
Recruiters can get hundreds of emails a day. Keep your email brief but professional.
Lead with a polite salutation and then sum up the reason for the email. Include all the pertinent details and contact information. Write shorter, active sentences instead of long, passives sentences. Take out “and” to form two sentences. Give the eyes a rest. Create brief paragraphs to break up text. A solid block of text can be discouraging to read. Use headers, color, italics or bold options to draw the eyes to important points. Remember to make an email short and sweet since reading online copy is more difficult than reading printed copy.
Spelling and Grammar.
Make sure you know the difference between a colon and a semi-colon, and a dash and a comma. Don’t leave sentences hanging without a period, unless you’ve included a list of items. Contractions such as “I’m” or “haven’t” are typically fine. Acronyms and abbreviations are not, unless they are widely known ones.
It’s easy to get carried away with punctuation! If you’re contacting a potential employer or colleague, you may want to sound enthusiastic! But it doesn’t look professional! Never pile up exclamation marks!!!
Quote and reply.
Ever received an email with long-winded replies that stack up in your inbox? But where’s the feedback or the answers to your questions? Lost in the middle or stuck at the bottom perhaps. Don’t make the reader scroll through an entire document to find an answer. If you have important points to make regarding email content, simply quote the selected text and respond in the line below. “Copy and Paste” is a great function. This breaks up the content and clearly projects the major topics.
Abbreviations and emoticons.
A :) (smiley face) and a “LOL” (laugh out loud) might suit a personal email. But when you get down to business, it’s best to stray from abbreviations and emoticons. That means no winks or sad faces and no TTYL (talk to you later). The only abbreviations that might be acceptable are common hospitality-related acronyms, such as ARDA or NRA.