A Quick Guide to Writing a Professional Email
Email has generally been used as an informal means of communication. However, as it becomes increasingly popular in the job application process, you need to take time to think through the content of your email and address the message that you might be sending to employers. An email to an employer should never just say, "See attached." The receiver may not even open the attachment.
Although employers do not always read an entire cover letter the first time, they do expect the writer to take time to include the necessary information in an appropriate way. Common mistakes when writing or responding to potential employers are:
- Using emoticons (: o),
- Being too informal,
- Misspellings and poor grammar,
- No capitalization, and
- Spelling words the way they sound.
Because email has become a mainstream form of communication, it is sometimes difficult to switch from casual and conversational email to professional email. Practice the use of professional writing. Avoid using emoticons and phonetic spellings. For example, do not use "ur" for "you're or your;" or "i" for "I". This habit could greatly affect your ability to get a job when applying via email.
Rules of the Road
Professional email is very different from casual email or instant messenger. Remember: it is easier to be ruled out than ruled in for a position. Here are some rules to consider when writing an email in which you are job prospecting or applying for a job:
Always introduce yourself the same way you would in a cover letter.
Dear Mr. /Ms. Doe,
I am writing in regard to your posting on….for ABC position in Insurance services.
Treat your email as if you were writing a professional cover or thank-you letter on paper, but be brief.
In the subject line, make it obvious why you are writing: "Application for ABC position.
Make sure you change the contact name and content according to the person/company to whom you are sending the message.
Always spell words correctly! • Don't just use spell check. It will not catch words that are spelled correctly, but are misused within the context of the sentence.
Never use all capital letters. Employers may think that you are screaming. It is also difficult to read.
Think about the message your email address sends. Keep your address simple, and avoid unprofessional sounding names like "email@example.com" or "firstname.lastname@example.org".
Read your message carefully before you click the send button. The tone of an email can often be misinterpreted.
Have someone else proofread your message before you send it. It may be easier to find errors if you print and review your email.
Scan your resume for viruses before you attach it to your email.
Name your document "your name, resume." Employers receive hundreds of resumes via email. If you follow-up by asking recruiters if they received your email, they will not have to look through 300 attachments called "resume."
If you are attaching your resume, ask the receiver if they would prefer that you send it in a different format, i.e.: Word, rich text format, or as a PDF.
Do not rely on email. Email can be lost. Follow-ups can often be done via the telephone or regular mail.