The art of writing a proper professional email is arguably the most important skill needed to succeed in the workplace, yet a difficult skill to master. Although it may be easier to slap some words on the page and move on with your to-do list, being able to write an email in a professional way allows you to give a good first impression to potential employers and maintain that reputation throughout your career.
The first thing to consider when writing an email is your actual email address. You don’t want to use the email address you made when you were 12. Use your name, or something similarly neutral, so that potential employers don’t immediately write you off as unprofessional.
If you get only one thing out of this whole article, let it be this: remember your audience. The way, you approach the email depends on the audience and will determine the overall tone of the email. Although the guidelines outlined below are generally helpful tips, it’s not the end-all-be-all. When writing the email you always have to keep in mind the audience, because the amount of formality will vary depending on your relationship with the recipient.
OK, first thing’s first: the subject line. There are a couple basic pointers to stick to when writing the subject line. Keep it short, keep it simple, keep it interesting. Keep it short: the recipient should be able to read the majority of the subject line in the preview view on their email. Keep it simple: don’t try to put all the information in the subject line, it won’t fit -- that’s why you’re writing the email in the first place. Keep it interesting: the subject line should grab the attention of the reader. In their inbox, full of emails waiting to be read, you want yours to shout, “Pick me! Pick me!”
Moving on from the subject line: the greeting. The greeting should be appropriate for the audience. Standard greetings include “Hello”, “Dear [insert name here],” or simply the person’s name. You can use time-relevant greetings such as, “Good morning,” or “Good afternoon,” but keep in mind the recipient won’t necessarily receive the email at that same time. Extra tip: leave a space after the greeting. It looks nice and makes it easier to read.
Next up: content. There’s not much to say here, because it’ll be different for every email. Just try to use professional language, which means no texting shortcuts or conversational jargon. Make sure whatever you’re saying makes sense, uses complete sentences, and gets the point across effectively--don’t ramble on.
Finally: the salutation. This is a closing such as, “Thank you,” or “Sincerely,” followed by your full name. You may consider including a signature block including contact information such as your phone number, place of work, job title, or other relevant information.
It’s important to remember that the above guidelines are just that: guidelines. Depending on the situation, not all of the above suggestions will be applicable or appropriate. The bottom line is, you have to cater your email to the appropriate audience while maintaining a professional tone.