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27 Email Etiquette Tips for Professionals

27 Email Etiquette Tips for Professionals

Even after the advent of social media and improvements in text messaging, email is  still the mode of communication that continues to prevail in the professional realm. The ability to give direction, put out fires, and more without being face-to-face has enabled many businesses to use email as a productivity tool. However, there are times when professionalism goes out of the window, and etiquette rules are forgotten. Today, we will take a look at 27 email etiquette tips for business professionals.

1. Greetings and Send-offs

I never start an email with the contents. An email always begins with a sound introduction or with the recipient’s name. This will, in the beginning, let them know to whom they are speaking with. When you begin by acknowledging them by name (e.g. Hello, John Doe), you will let them know whom you intend on talking with. When you are done with an email, always finish by saying “Thanks” or “Cheers”, to practice good etiquette and respect.

2. Know When to Call

Not all communication has to occur through email. Once conversation begins to mention specifics, it may be wise to schedule a phone call—this can prevent misunderstandings and can even expedite your correspondence. It is also respectful to pick up the phone when a meeting, scheduled by email, is cancelled.

3. Mind Your Punctuation

Professionalism involves knowing how to mind your punctuation. In a standard email correspondence, you should use periods and question marks about 95% of the time. Leave exclamation points to when your conversation is light-hearted, and you’re familiar with the recipient.

4. The Clock is Ticking

When dealing with business, never keep them waiting. As the saying goes, “time is money”. You should never let a recipient wait more than two days for your reply. Just like a phone call, waiting on an email can hold up progress on whatever project you are attempting to establish. After all, isn’t that why you’re emailing and not using snail mail?

5. Write it Right

Grammar and spelling should be two considerations when emailing in a professional environment. Even though the content is the star of the email, ensuring that your grammar is in check allows the business acquaintance to know that you are taking the conversation seriously. Most email clients have spelling and grammar checks, so use them!

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6. Consider Company Culture

Let’s be honest—while grammar and tone should be professional, we must still consider the companies that we are contacting. Inner business emails between more relaxed companies will of course be a bit different from, let’s say, the White House. While minding your grammar, continue to give off an approachable vibe while emailing.

7. Engineer the Perfect Subject Line

The first thing your recipient sees is the subject line. Frankly, they will discern the importance of an email by a subject line before reading its contents. Make sure you leave a great impression by being mindful of capitalization, being concise, and to the point.

8. Reply vs. Reply-All

Nothing is more embarrassing than sending a mass email that was intended for only one recipient. This is the result of an email that began with multiple recipients. When replying, you will have the option to “Reply”—which emails the sender—or “Reply-All”, which sends your message to everyone the original message was sent to. Double check before sending, or you’ll be sorry.

9. Consider The Privacy of Others

There will be instances when you’ll have to send business emails to multiple recipients who may not know each other. The recipient’s email address is added to the “To:” section in average emails, but in multiple recipient emails, you should add the addresses to the “BCC” or Blind Carbon Copy section, to prevent others from viewing recipient addresses.

10. Tailor a Signature

Unlike a greeting or send-off, an email signature is automatically added to the bottom of a message, where you can add a small biography and contact information. This doesn’t replace a quality greeting, but it does allow a new acquaintance to learn more about you and to know where to get in contact with you.

11. Go in Vacation Mode

Several times a year, during vacation, I usually find myself separated from my email. As seen in tip #4, time is of the essence, and it’s rude to leave an email in your inbox unanswered. To alert individuals of my absence, I add an auto-responder (through Gmail, but also available on other clients) mentioning of why I’m gone and when I will return.

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12.  Be Mindful of Links

Hackers have found ways to add viruses and malware to attachments and links. When forwarding emails, ensure that the links and attachments are safe. Also, reduce the number of chain messages you forward and never send any from an unknown recipient.

13. Create a TL:DR Summary

TL:DR is an acronym standing for “Too long, didn’t read”. It’s quite blunt and is the case for many busy business acquaintances who simply are too busy to read long email conversations. For this reason, when forwarding or periodically when replying to conversations, summarize previous points in bullets to keep recipients up-to-speed on email contents.

14. Job Search Tip: Resume and Cover Letter

When searching for a job, email etiquette is of the utmost importance. When replying to a job board, always ensure that you include your resume and cover letter. By default, these should be attachments unless they explicitly are against them.

15. Ask Before Attaching

The reason companies don’t like large attachments is because companies are given a specified storage space they pay for. Your large attachment eats up their storage allowance. Before sending a large attachment, or multiple ones, always ask for permission from the recipient.

16. When is Irony Appropriate?

Irony is a popular form of comedy for most people. However, in a business setting, you should shy away from it. Irony in any written form can be misunderstood at best, and at worst be taken as offensive. Save the irony for emails within your company.

17. Rethink Your Font

A company email isn’t a PowerPoint presentation from your sixth grade English project: leave the fancy fonts for another time. Not only does it come off as unprofessional, some companies may not have the email clients that can present such fonts. Besides, who wants to read Edwardian Script font anyway?

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Professional Fonts to Use

  • Times New Roman
  • Georgia
  • Veranda
  • Arial
  • Book Antiqua
  • Calibri

18. Documents Open for All

Obscure file types can prevent companies from being able to open the attachments you send, which can slow down business operations and projects. Leave attachment file types to PDFs, .doc, .txt, or .jpeg. They usually are of a reasonable size and can be opened on most machines and operating systems.

19. Separate Work from Play

It’s not wise to use your company email to send personal messages to friends and relatives. Use your business email for colleagues and business acquaintances only, for two reasons: to maintain the professional nature of your inbox, and to limit wasteful use of email storage space.

20. Ensure Your Email Wasn’t Trashed

If you haven’t heard back from a receiver, chances are that they are busy. Inquiring on whether or not they got your message could make it worse, but there are times when emails are quite pertinent. Wait a week to a week-and-a-half if time allows, and if you still don’t have a reply, call them or dispatch another email.

21. Make Your Intentions Clear

When recipients only have a minute or two to read an email, you should make your message as concise and to the point as possible. Provide an outline in the beginning of the email of what you expect from the recipient before going a bit in depth.

22. Connect Email to Your Phone

To prevent recipients from waiting, connect your business email to your phone to ensure that you are able to reply to them in a timely manner. In the settings of most smart phones, you are able to adjust your signature.

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23. Inner Company Acronyms

While acronyms are ill-advised to new acquaintances, creating company acronyms between co-workers can be a clever way to ensure that they understand the importance or intent of the message. Acronyms like “NRN” (No Reply Needed) can allow colleagues to know what messages are urgent and what can wait.

24. Extend What’s in Email

It’s easy to blame forgetting or misunderstanding a meeting request given through an email. Most email clients don’t have alarm systems. This means it’s your responsibility to apply outside the inbox what is relevant (creating calendar alerts for meetings, etc) to be productive.

25. Consider Time Differences

It can be aggravating to request a call or meeting through email and not hear back within a timely manner. It is necessary, however, to ensure that this isn’t due to time zone differences. If you are requesting a call from an Australian acquaintance and you’re in New York, ensure time zone differences are worked out.

26. Check Your Calendar

To prevent unnecessary back and forth emailing, it is wise to be mindful of  traditions and holidays in the culture or religion of your recipient. If you are in a country where Christmas isn’t widely celebrated, it may not be wise to schedule a meeting for December 24th when the rest of your location is on business as usual.

27. Inform Employees on Etiquette

It’s fine and dandy to follow all of these email etiquette tips yourself, but if you are the only one following them, it still gives your business a bad image. Share valuable email etiquette tips with your co-workers to ensure the business name is kept sound.

Let us know in the comments below of a moment when your email etiquette left a good impression on the recipient. Also, let us know when email etiquette was tossed out the window, and its outcome.

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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