You may not realize it, but the way you communicate in a professional email is much more important than you think. Not only are you showing your writing skills, you’re showing your communication and social skills too, not to mention your personality.
When it comes to writing professional emails to potential employers, emails should be approached with the same care as when writing a resume or cover letter. Similar to the way you have just seconds to make a first impression with an interviewer, it only takes a sorry opening line to ensure your message ends up in the Trash folder.
What’s in a name?
Before you do anything else, make sure your email address is something you didn’t create as an excited teenager. Your best bet is always to include some aspect of your name. Using your full name, separated by a period, is ideal. Not only does this help you identify yourself, but it simply looks professional to both potential employers and your social network.
Equally important to your email address is your email subject line. This must be compelling and succinct – it needs to stand out in the sea of emails that HR manager sees every day. Try to be specific – and never leave it blank.
Think before you type
Whether you’re writing an electronic cover letter, requesting further contact or following up with someone you met at a networking event, you should be creating a professional emails that has a beginning, middle and end. It never hurts to start with a greeting, such as a simple “How are you?”, or “Hope you’re having a great day.” This sets a friendly, caring tone and allows you to better connect with the recipient.
Tutsplus.com contributor Brian Zafron recommends loading the front of your email cover letter with the meat of your message, since most people don’t have time, or even the desire, to read to the end of it. Make sure you place all priority information in the beginning of your message – if you can, fit it into your first paragraph. The rest of your details can be spelled out in your modern resume.
Promptness and other considerations
Even if you don’t have time to respond to an email within a day or two of receiving it, a short line telling your correspondent that you’re busy, or that you’ll get back to them by the end of the week, will look much better than a full answer several days later. When you give someone a heads up that you’ve read their email, but will need to get back to them at a later time, you’re telling them that you’re not ignoring them, you won’t leave them hanging and you want to take the time to write something meaningful.
Lastly, keep the message focused. People these days are flooded with emails, so a long, drawn-out note with several different points in it – even if well-written – is likely to be ignored or overlooked, especially in a scenario where two strangers, a candidate and a potential employer, are involved. It’s important to highlight the purpose of the email succinctly and leave all other queries for future communication. If you’re listing information, use bullet points or numbering, as both are a great way of organizing information in a visually attractive, easy-to-read way.
When reaching out to potential employers, you can never be too cautious. Email cover letters are the best and quickest way of applying to a job, and the way in which you communicate yourself is crucial. Don’t forget to proofread your email, even if it is short. You’d be surprised how detrimental just one small typo can be to your future success with that company, as they look unprofessional and scream “sloppy” to any future employer.
Ultimately, writing good emails comes down to having a passionate message. Be clear on what you are writing, use a professional tone and re-read your message out loud before you hit send to ensure you’ve covered all your bases.