Dear Sir/Madam. To Whom It May Concern. Yours Sincerely.
Sound familiar? Whether searching for a job or communicating with colleagues, clients or senior professionals, navigating the world of email has become an art form in the corporate world. For job hunters, before the first phone call or face-to-face meeting one email thread can cement an impression that could help or harm your career. Similarly, how you come across via email in the office can create a lasting image of how you are perceived by the wider business.
Are bold and underlined ever necessary? When does Nicholas the Manager become Nick? Here are a few tips to get you started and help avoid some common pitfalls or awkward situations like emailing your manager to apologise for calling them Mum.
1) The Voice: too casual vs. too formal
The tone used to email that hip start-up is wildly different to a first outreach to a strategy consultancy. It’s possible to go too far in either direction and, while erring on the side of formal is safe, tailoring your tone and exploring your own style adds a layer of authenticity to the email. Do some LinkedIn digging and find the name of the person responsible for recruitment for example and get rid of the impersonal ‘to whom it may concern’.
On the other hand, if you have been communicating with the same contact for a while, don’t get trapped in a rigid structure (e.g. ‘Dear Jonathan’ to your favourite recruiter who has always signed off as Jon). Follow their lead in breaking down formality; you are emailing a human after all!
2) Get to the point. Yesterday.
“I hope you are well and enjoying the sweet song of summer along with my salutations as I was wondering about enquiring about…” Stop. There is nothing worse than not knowing the purpose of an email when you are already halfway through reading it.
Be clear about your intentions and end with a call to action and sign off, pronto. Remember, every email is a request for the recipient to take time out of their busy day to read, understand and reply. Be polite but direct and try to avoid hedging words like ‘wondering’, ‘just wanted to’ or ‘if you could’. If you do have a personal comment to add, it goes at the end where it doesn’t distract from the body of the message or not at all.
3) The Little Details Matter
Having gathered opinions from the team at Freshminds, one thing that can never be downplayed is attention to detail. Spelling names incorrectly (or addressing it to the wrong name all together) is never okay and only points to a lack of professionalism. There is nothing worse than receiving three emails due to errors you may have noticed after hitting send; proofread, read it on your phone to see that the formatting pulls through, ask a friend to proofread again for coherence. The extra time spent focusing on sending one power email is always appreciated by the recipient, whether they are a recruiter receiving 100+ emails a day, or a manager with fifteen other requests in the inbox.
There are many other tips and tricks about email communications but the above are a great place to start. Developing your own authentic style takes time and it is definitely worth investing in, whether privately or getting feedback from your Candidate Manager.