Career Advice: Business Email Etiquette Basics


Do you get disgusted when you receive a co-worker’s email filled with grammatical errors and text message symbols?

Or, do you wish you could give your coworkers a class on email etiquette instead of clenching your fists and screaming at your computer screen?

If the ten unfunny forwarded messages–received from well-intention colleagues–makes you scream at the top of your lungs.

Well, imagine how a recruiter or hiring manager feels when you send a poorly written email in response to a  job posting.

Or, you just happen to be the person who uses capital letters to express their enthusiasm, here are a few business email etiquette basics to help non-profit job seekers create effective and professional email communication.

If you are applying for a position using email communication, do not write in text message shortcuts or use pop culture colloquialisms. Use proper grammar and complete sentences. Avoid inserting slang or trendy jargon into your business email.

Because every email you send is an extension of your professional image, transmitting an email filled with spelling errors and poor English reeks of unprofessional behavior.

Address the hiring manager by his or her name

Don’t start the email message with “To whom it may concern” or “Hi Recruiter.” No first and last name may indicate a message for the spam folder. The sweetest sound people want to hear is their own name.

Use the first and last name and their title if appropriate, when applying for nonproft jobs.

Beware of sending large files unannounced

Some people are email attachment averse. To avoid sending virus-ladened files or large attachments that cause a virtual online bottleneck, ask for permission before attaching files to the email.

If you are sending a resume or cover letter, include the document in the body of the email. If you have a copy of your resume or portfolio online, include in your email a link to your file.

Don’t write an essay

A business email message should be no longer than five lines. If you have more information to convey, learn how to self-edit. If you stick to this rule, your email messages will be clear, concise and responded to quickly.

Eliminate crazy fonts, colored backgrounds and excessive punctuation

Use a standard 10-12 point sized font. Stick with Arial, Times New Roman and Verdana. Refrain from using an exclamation point after every sentence. Never write in capital letters to express your interest in the position.

Use these business email etiquette fundamentals to make a stellar first impression or to your help your co-worker polish their email prose. The next time you apply for a job use these tips to ensure that your email message is clear and professional, before you hit the word send.

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