Etiquette Refresher: The Email
Sometimes, we need some professional refreshers. In our Hire Me 101, we recapped a few interviewing strategies to help you land your next creative position. Now, we’d like to make sure your professionalism is up-to-date with one specific daily encounter we all engage in: emails.
So, what are some strategies to implement when sending an email? How can you look your best self through an email? And what can you avoid?
First of all, it’s always crucial to remember (and realize) who you are addressing in your emails because different formalities will be applied depending on where your email is going. From there, you can go through this checklist and apply accordingly. A lot of these tips may come as second nature, but it may be helpful to go through this list to see if you’re actually practicing these professional tips daily:
1. Clear Subject Line
Subject lines are the one glimpse into an email before it’s opened. Therefore, it’s especially important to write something eye-catching or attention-grabbing in this space. If it is to a coworker, you may want to keep the subject line brief, but clear. If it’s to a potential client, connection, or employer, you may want to write something clickbait-y or mysterious. By mysterious, we don’t mean cryptic, but rather something that would provoke a reader to open the email in order to find out more.
2. Open & Close Your Emails Appropriately
Do your emails start with a simple greeting? Do they conclude with something like “sincerely” or “best”? There are obviously different degrees of formalities depending on who you are addressing in your emails, but starting with a greeting and ending with a closure will make you look all the more professional. There are exceptions to this of course. If you’re in a back-to-back email exchange with someone it’s not always necessary at that point to start every email with “hello” and “sincerely yours, [your name].” On the other hand, don’t forget, as your parents may have taught you, to include your please’s and thank you’s when appropriate too.
3. Create a Signature Unique to You
A signature is the final takeaway of a personal email. As an employee, it’s important to include a professional signature at the end of your messages that include your title, link to the company’s website, etc.. For creatives, this is an opportunity where you can promote yourself further by including a link to your portfolio under your name. If you’re a designer, ask yourself if the actual signature reflects your “style” (think about the colors and fonts, for example). Check to see if you have included links of other places to find or reach you underneath your name, such as your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr handles.
4. Briefly Proofread
This may seem obvious, but it’s a good rule of thumb to reread any email you’ve composed even just briefly. You don’t want to be that person who misspelled someone’s name or a basic word. When you have misspellings in your emails you’re telling the receiver that you are not putting the care in to editing and looking your best. This could be a make-or-break interaction with a potential employer or networking opportunity.
5. Use Exclamation Marks & Humor Sparingly
^Doesn’t look great right? Avoid all exclamation marks unless it feels appropriate. And even if it does, don’t overuse them in your emails.
Likewise, in Fast Company’s article “These Five Bad Email Habits Are Why No One Gets Back To You On Time,” they suggest to avoid humor and ramblings. While exclamation marks may be seemingly funny to use, it will make you sound like you’re yelling or overly perky. Trust us. Even if you know the person somewhat well, it’s almost never professional to insert jokes or asides in a work email, especially since it’s written material. Furthermore, sometimes humor does not come across in written form as well as it does out loud. Save the jokes for an in person dialogue.