5 Dos And Don’ts Of Writing Professional Emails

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U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenan O

Hiring managers from Hirepurpose companies share common email mistakes that will get your job application sent to the bottom of the pile. Be polite, be succinct, avoid poor grammar, and please make sure you spell check before pressing send.


Here is what they said.

“Do spell check, including the subject line. Slowly review to ensure there are no grammatical errors. Do not overuse e-mail, use the phone if given the opportunity to communicate via that option.”

Takeaway: Make sure you know the difference between words like “your” and “you’re,” “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” It’s easy to misuse a word or phrase if you are rushing to send off an email, so take 30 extra seconds to read it through, or send it off to someone you trust to review it first.  

“Keep it professional, but not too formal. The need for the word’s ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’ are lost in the civilian world. Feel free to use Mr. or Ms. when corresponding through email. Ensure you check for spelling and grammatical mistakes and keep things professional.”

Takeaway: You aren’t emailing your good buddy, so make sure you maintain a professional tone, without being too rigid. Avoid using abbreviated closing military sentiments like “V/R.” Instead, end with something polite like “Kind regards.”

Related: Advice for veterans writing cover letters »

“Do respect a recruiter’s most valuable resource — their time. Emails should be objectively concise to allow recruiters to tend to candidates like you while guarding their time to effectively source new talent.”

Takeaway: You basically get four-to-five sentences to make an impression on a hiring manager. You should have already attached your resume and cover as separate documents, so make your introduction email sharp and concise, but noteworthy so it sticks out among other candidate emails.

“Don’t send more than one email, and don’t send an email if its been more than 48 hours, especially if the position may be between you and another candidate. Also, treat everyone you meet from the time you enter the building to the time you get home with respect. You never know who the hiring manager may come in contact with, and your behavior may come up in conversation.”

Takeaway: If you send an email to a hiring manager and don’t hear back, don’t go crazy writing to them thinking that is going to make a difference. If you’ve already had some correspondence from them and are expecting a response, but haven’t heard back, wait five business days before following up.

“Have a professional e-mail address. Notyourbabydaddy@gmail.com is not the correct approach. All e-mail, social media, resumes, and phone numbers need to be used for professional communications for the candidate and branded for consistency.”

Takeaway: Keep it professional. And remember, anything you put on the Internet can be seen by hiring managers through a simple Google search, so before you start applying to jobs, make sure there isn’t anything incriminating or inappropriate available on the web.

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