In our hugely digital age, it’s becoming an absolute necessity to know how to properly send an email. And as you get older, sending an email becomes more than just knowing the ins and outs of your Gmail account – it’s about sending an email that’s professional. When you’re applying to jobs or chatting with a professor all the time, top-notch email skills are critical to being taken seriously. Here are our top tips:
Have a professional address.
So your BaRbiEXGUrlxx0x@aol.com email address isn’t really going to cut it anymore. Try to get one with your first and last name, or some sort of variation. Since there are probably a few different people with the same name, you’re probably going to need to add special characters or even numbers to make a valid address. We suggest doing things like adding your middle initial into the mix, adding a period or an underscore between your first and last name, or – if it’s absolutely necessary – adding your zip code at the end. Remember that adding numbers should be your last resort, though.
Create an email signature.
And don’t get too cute, either. If you have a certain branding logo, or one associated with your company, then go for it. That said, for most personal emails, you should probably just stick to your first and last name, your email address, and a phone number. This makes it so all of your personal contact information is in the email for the recipient to access later.
Always use a formal salutation when first emailing someone.
We don’t care what the industry standard is – the very first time you communicate with someone via email, you should always start with a formal salutation. The best way to keep this sounding natural is to simply do a “Dear Ms. So-And-So,” and continuing your email from there. Also remember to address someone formally the first time. When emailing a professor, you should use, “Dear Professor X,” or “Dr. X,” whichever they ask you to address them in class. If after that first message the person with whom you’re emailing gives you a more casual vibe, then go ahead and match their energy.
Get to the point.
While you should definitely begin an email with something like, “I hope this email finds you well,” remember that you’re not shooting the breeze with your grandma, either. Let the person know within the first two or three sentences why you’re emailing as not to waste his or her time.
Always say thank you.
There might be a few exceptions to this (like if you’re actually offering something to someone else) but for the most part you usually have something to thank the other person for – whether it be for them thinking of you for a work opportunity, or them answering a question. You can make it easy and breezy like, “thanks so much for letting me know about this.”
Lay off the exclamation points.
This is something that’s important for being taken seriously as an adult. As nervous as we can seem to sound too stern or bossy by using periods, exclamation points tend to do nothing but make you sound like you’re excitedly yelling about doing something (and who’s really that excited about checking up on an assignment you missed when you were sick?)
Avoid the word “just.”
This goes with the whole I-don’t-want-to-seem-bossy thing. Using the word “just” makes you sound like you don’t think you’re entitled to ask something of a co-worker or group project partner. For example, sending an email that says, “I was just checking in on how this part of the project was going,” makes it sound okay if that person is slacking off, like you’re apologizing for holding them accountable. Saying, “I wanted to know how your part of the project is going,” makes it sound like you expect that person to work just as hard as you do. It’s a part of being confident and assertive when you work.
Sign off formally, too.
If you start an email with, “Dear Professor Jones,” you certainly wouldn’t sign off saying, “k, peace out.” Use a formal sign-off like, “best wishes.” This is benevolent, professional, and sounds about as light as it comes. If you’re emailing someone a little more formal, sign off with “sincerely,” or “respectfully.” These might sound more forced and formal, but it’s definitely better to be a little too formal than not formal enough with important folks.