Back to Basics: How to Write a Professional Email

Asian American Man working on a professional email in his office with a brick wall and a bookshelf behind his desk.

Back to Basics: How to Write a Professional Email

With so much communication being done over email and chat, it is imperative to use these tools to communicate clearly and effectively. Whether you are job seeking, in the position of your dreams, or running a successful business you should know how to pen the perfect professional email. We’re sharing four details below that make up a professional email.

Spell check, then check again.

The worst thing is sending off a professional email to a potential employer, a client or your new boss that is riddled with spelling errors. Especially now that we have tools and spell check in all of our email platforms. Make sure that your spellcheck is turned on- many platforms have an option to check all spelling before the email can be sent, so you can ensure an error free correspondence. Moreover, re-read your email to catch small errors such as mixed-up words or incorrect grammar before sending.

Utilize your subject line.

Although the subject line is separate from the body of your email- it’s still equally important. Think of the subject line as your call-to-action. If you are reaching out to someone you don’t know, such as in sales or when you are job hunting, your subject line may act as your elevator pitch. If it’s not convincing someone to open your email, it may end up in the trash. There are tools such as a subject line grader that can help assess the effectiveness of your subject line. Additionally, asking a question in your subject line or telling your audience why they need to read the rest of your email can be great tools for your subject line. Try to stay away from too much emotion in your subject line- keep the emojis and exclamation points at bay.

Salutations and best wishes.

There are thousands of ways to sign-off an email. Again, remember your audience when you add a salutation. Saying “thank you” or “best wishes” are common blanket sign-offs. But if you want to personalize it even more, check out this article for additional ideas. Always start you emails with excitement and end with gratitude. 

Keep it positive.

Written text can be easily mis-understood.  As we can not write emotion or how we are feeling unless we describe it in words, many times written text can be misconstrued. It is a good rule of thumb to save tough conversations or negative topics for direct verbal conversations.  Bring positivity in your emails. Use exclamations points to show you are excited for positive items you are writing about! Criticism, or bad news over email can be viewed even more negative than if told directly in-person. If you are ever not sure about a comment written/made to you, simple ask nicely what the person meant by the comment. Try to assume that people emailing you are on your side unless it is very clear their intentions are otherwise. 

Don’t be too brief. 

One and two sentence emails communicate to the reader that you are not that interested, or that you do not have the time. Or that simply you are not committed enough to provide a full response. Unless you are the CEO of the company, provide complete emails and answers to questions.  Even if you are the CEO, it would be best to not be too brief. Do not overwrite in your emails, but aim to show your work is strong, well thought out, and you are committed to your job. Short email responses are efficient, but generally do not create relationships and also send the wrong message. If you must reply quickly, simply also say in your email that you apologize for the briefness of the reply as you are in transit or between meetings (give the reason), but that you did not want to leave them waiting.  If you are sent an email to you with just a yes or no question you should never respond with just one word. Short emails are very misunderstood to have negative emotion behind them – even when not present

A note about your signature. 

Your signature is different from the sign-off (see above). In your signature, you’ll want to include your name, title, email address and phone number. Additionally, if you are representing a brand or company, include links to their website as well as social media handles. Your signature acts as a reference for people to learn more about you and who you represent (if applicable).



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