There is perhaps none amongst us who hasn’t hit the “send” button just as our eye caught the name of an unintended recipient—an email with serious implications for our career, or with a typo that has us blushing. (I do recall a few of these from my own emails when still in the corporate world. Oy! Embarrassing.)
Career management includes a lesson in email etiquette.
Along with sticking to professional writing standards when dashing off business-related emails you will serve your career well if you communicate only professional messages.
Here are a few tips for writing business emails:
- Refrain from overusing the “Sent with High Importance” feature.
- Overdoing punctuation marks ????!!!!! does not convey professionalism.
- Don’t use ALL CAPS. It suggests that you are yelling.
- Avoid those snappy abbreviations so useful in texting. No IMHO or LOL.
- Likewise, avoid cutesy smiley faces or other emoticons.
- Proofread to check for spelling, grammar, and to ensure you’re making sense.
- Respect individual privacy by using the BCC (blind copy) feature when sending to a large group.
There are certainly topics that should not be discussed over email; in fact, many workplaces have policies that address the following.
- Angry words, committed for all time in digital format, can come back to bite you.
- Opinions on disciplinary matters or disparaging of corporate strategies, again, are best not committed to text.
- Sexual matters—even seemingly harmless cartoons—are never appropriate in workplace emails.
- Jokes, cute PowerPoint messages, religious inspirational messages—again, are best left to send to friends and family from your personal email.
And, of course, there are ways to use email very effectively at work, to maximize your time management and enhance your corporate citizenship.
- Make sure your Subject line clearly states the purpose of your communication.
- Use a salutation. “Hello John” is expected in professional communication.
- Take some time to chunk your information. Organizing dense text into headings and bullets will greatly enhance its readability, improving the chances that your recipient will read your message.
And finally, a few tips on managing that ever-growing email Inbox:
- Immediately delete emails that don’t concern you—invitations to meetings that don’t pertain to you, corporate communications that are not of interest, jokes and inspirational messages that shouldn’t have been sent in the first place.
- Set up folders for newsletters and other periodicals that you don’t have time to read, and move them out of your Inbox into the appropriate folder upon receipt (some systems now automate this feature).
- Choose emails that will take only a moment or two to reply to, reply, and delete or file. This will save time later in trying to find an email, or embarrassment because you forgot to respond.
The remaining emails are the actionable items that need to get moved onto your daily planner or project management file. You’ll be surprised at the efficiency of opening each email only once. Not only will you gain time, you will undoubtedly save yourself professionally embarrassing missed obligations; both tactics make good career management sense.
– Stephanie Clark, Master Resume Writer