Tuesday Tip: Write More Professional E-mails
By Yehudit Garmaise
While texting and WhatsApp messages usually require less formality, e-mails require a more professional tone and format.
Your emails, like your work, your clothing, and your speech, represent you as a professional.
Before you hit send: Take the time to craft emails that represent you favorably, communicate clearly and pleasantly, build stronger connections, and help you to succeed.
Remember that emails cannot be un-sent, and remain forever accessible in cyberspace. To put your best foot forward, consider the following tips:
1. Always include an opening salutation, such as “Dear” or “To,” before using your recipient’s title and last name, unless you are already on a first-name-basis. Don’t launch right into your thoughts. We must greet people before speaking to them.
I have heard many professionals complain that they will not read emails that do not include salutations, or are written informally and lacking structure.
While hiring managers and new potential clients require Dear Mr. or Mrs. so and so, for colleagues with whom you already have a less formal relationship with your recipient, you can usually write, “Hello” or “Hi” before writing his or her name.
1. Take the time to address the right person and spell his or her name correctly. Just sending an email “To whom it may concern,” likely will get lost. Check the spelling of the name of the person you are writing. When you meet the person, ensuring you are pronouncing people’s names correctly is polite and respectful.
2. Skip a line after your salutation, and briefly check into your recipient’s welfare before explaining what you would like to communicate. No one wants to be inundated with requests with being treated as a human being. Start by saying something like, “I hope you are well.” Show that you care about others, and are not just hoping to advance your own agenda.
3. Understand your intentions before you write anything. Ask yourself, “What exactly do I hope to accomplish with this email?” and jot down your answers. Get clear about your own motives, and then express them in a rough draft in a formal and professional, but not overly-stuffy tone. You are not talking to a friend, but you are not teaching a class either.
4. Get right to your point. Express your intentions clearly and concisely. Make sure you know exactly what you want to convey. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Don’t keep your true intentions shrouded in vague language. Be direct, and give solid reasons. Concision is powerful.
5. Consider your message before stating it quickly and clearly. Are you: asking for help or making another specific request? Replying to an inquiry? Following-up on something? Pitching a new idea?
6. Keep your e-mails short and sweet. Please tell the schools, but no one reads long e-mails. Respect people’s time, their workloads, and their short attention spans.
7. Wrap up your email in a short paragraph or two. Ensure your sentences are short and to the point. Words are like diamonds: don’t waste any. Go back and delete anything extra and repetitious. A good piece of writing is pared down and crystal clear.
8. Write in complete sentences, which include subjects, verbs, direct objects, and proper punctuation marks: usually in that order. Use Grammarly to check grammar, and Spell Check to check spelling. Write in as few sentences as possible, and skip a line after each paragraph.
9. Always express gratitude and positivity, and maintain a cordial tone. You can end by saying something pleasant, such as: “I look forward to hearing back from you,” or “Your feedback is always really helpful,” or “I always appreciate your input.”
10. End with a closing salutation, such as “Sincerely,” “Best,” “Best Regards,” “Warmly,” or “Thanks Again,” before skipping a line and signing your name with an email signature that has your title, contact information, and relevant online links below it.
11. Write a friendly, polite, but attention-grabbing subject line, which serve as headlines to your emails. Obviously, “I need a raise!” would not likely not be well-received. Instead: “Expressing gratitude,” “I Love Contributing to the Team” or something positive could be a start to something better.
12. Walk away from your computer for a bit before you take the time to proofread what you have written. We all know emails and texts are way too easy to send before reconsidering and checking what we have written. Don’t ever rush to hit send. Read over your message to ensure that your intention is clear and straightforward. Adjust any words or lines that sound demanding, kvetchy, or arrogant. Use grammar and spelling apps to polish your prose.
13. If you have more than one email account, double-check that you are sending from your professional address. Consider having a friend proofread your important emails, and always remember, to give your email one last read-through before hitting send. Hatzlacha!
Here is one example of a professional email after an interview:
Dear [interviewer’s name, spelled correctly],
I hope all is well. Thank you again for the opportunity to interview for [ job title] with [company name]. It was a pleasure to get to know you and the team at [division of company at which you want to work.]
I'm following up to see whether there are any updates regarding the [job title] position from my interview on [date]. I'm really excited about the opportunity. If you need any more information, please let me know.
Thank you again for your time and consideration. I hope to hear from you soon.
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