Whether in your job search or on-the-job, your email communication is a reflection of your personal brand. Employers are judging your communications skills by looking at your emails. Feedback from employers is that new employees have a lot to learn about appropriate business emails.
- Correct grammar, spelling and punctuation are expected
- Professionalism should always rule
- If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it in an email
- Be concise and to the point, attach supporting documents if necessary but they should be able to quickly read the email to assess the situation and identify your recommended action steps
- If you refer to an attachment, be sure it is attached
- Email creates a permanent record, if it something you would not want to see on the CEO’s desk or on the front page of the newspaper, don’t send it!
In Your Job Search
- Accuracy matters – spell the person’s name correctly, use appropriate grammar and punctuation, avoid slang, emoticons, etc.
- Be professional – put your best foot forward, show them your communications skills
- Make it personal – don’t send a group thank you if you interviewed with multiple people, send each one a customized thank you (and still send a handwritten note)
- If you say the resume is attached, be sure it is there and in a format someone can open
On the Job
- Know when to just pick up the phone or walk to someone’s office, don’t go back and forth over details in email when you could quickly resolve the issue with a phone call. Email chains can be frustrating and annoying and they waste time.
- Don’t send an email in haste when you are angry or frustrated, cool off and reread it before sending it
- Don’t send anything you wouldn’t say in person
- Don’t play games with cc or bcc to higher ups, they are not impressed and more often will be annoyed. If you need management intervention reach out to them and ask for their help explaining the situation and what needs to be done, don’t threaten the person you are dealing with by cc’ing the boss and don’t irritate the boss who isn’t clear on what you expect him to do
- Maintain professionalism and accuracy
What to say when you’re emailing in sick
- Always call to let your manager know you are going to be out sick. Leave a voicemail message if needed.
- You can follow-up with an email. Don’t provide a lot of details about your illness or symptoms. Focus instead of what others need to know to keep things moving while you are out of the office. Is there a critical document someone is waiting for? A meeting that needs to be rescheduled?
- Manage expectations – Will you be checking email or not? Are you available for a phone call or not? If you are very sick, it is perfectly ok to unplug and get your rest but you need to manage expectations.
What to say when you’re sending an intro email (either introducing yourself or
intro-ing two colleagues)
- When you are making an introduction, send the email to both parties involved and address both of them. Introduce them to each other with a brief background and identify why you are making the introduction.
- If you need or expect follow-up from either or both, be very clear about next steps.
How to reply to an intro email (when you’re the one who requested the intro — do you CC the
person who set it up? BCC them?),
- Respond to both, thank the person making the introduction and discuss next steps with the person you were introduced to.
How to handle setting up a meeting with higher-ups you don’t know — do you send them an
email before the calendar invite or after?
- Send an email requesting a meeting and being very clear why you need to meet and what your are expecting as a result.
- Ask if you should coordinate with his/her administrative assistant or just use the outlook calendar.
- Do not just send a meeting request. It is presumptuous and in appropriate unless it has been made clear that the corporate culture works that way.
What to say when you need to send a running late email
- State your sincere apologies for running late and provide a reasonable estimate of when you will be arriving.
Writing thank you emails (specifically, should you send a two word “thank you”
every time someone sends you something you asked for or just
that just create email clutter?)
- Use judgment. If someone sends something significant that represents a lot of time and effort on their part, it is appropriate to acknowledge their effort.
- If it is just a quick answer to a basic question, it is not necessary.
- Avoid the endless thank you chain.
- When it doubt think how you would feel if you were the sender, would you expect or appreciate a response?
In general, when to reply all and when there’s NNTR (no need to reply)
- If there is no need to reply, don’t.
- If you sent the email would you expect a response? If the answer is no, don’t send one.
How to deal with a situation in which you accidentally replied all and a group
saw something embarrassing or even mean that you said about them
that was originally meant for an individual–as well as what to
do if that happens to one of your employees or co-workers.
- Never send anything via email that you would not say to someone’s face or that you wouldn’t want to see on the desk of the CEO or on the front page of the newspaper.
- Email creates a permanent record. It should never be used to say unkind, embarrassing or disparaging remarks.
- If you accidently reply all to a group and are concerned about the content, send a quick apology. Don’t elaborate or make it a bigger deal than it is.
- Should a colleague be negatively highlighted in an inadvertent reply all, as their manager you should contact the individual who sent the email and ask them to apologize.
- Common courtesy and common sense are both critical to effective communication.
Any other basic do’s/don’ts (i.e., when is it appropriate to BCC
someone vs. forwarding to them, etc.).
- BCC should only be done for very specific reasons and it should be very clear to the person receiving the BCC why they are receiving it.
- Do not use it maliciously, it will come back to bite you.
- If management needs a heads up on something, forward the email with a note about your concerns and recommended actions. Stick to the facts and avoid emotions.