One of the most useful tools that job searchers and business professionals have access to is email. It is quick, efficient and gets the message out in a very timely manner. Email has been commonly used since 1993, 21 years ago! It is hard to believe that we have had this technology for so long, yet according to Wikipedia, the origins of email date back to 1973. Yet it seems that as old as the technology is, it is not always being used properly. As technology changes (Text Messaging, Twitter, and Facebook as examples) we are losing the simple etiquette that is required in business for email. Here are some things to remember:
- Email is not private and in a business setting can be considered company property.
- Tone cannot be heard in an email.
- Email should not be used to resolve conflict or personal issues with another employee or employer.
- Email can be forwarded and is forever. Once you hit “Send” you can never get it back.
- Email only matters that are public. It should not be used to send personal information, such as Social Insurance Numbers, Personal Addresses or Birth dates.
- Consider what content you put in the email, if you would not put it on Company letter head, do not send it.
- Always spell check before you send the email.
- Send large attachments in Zip format and with prior notification that it will be coming to the recipient.
Below are some dos and don’ts when using email for business purposes.
Things to make sure you are doing include:
- Follow standard business writing – your email reflects you and your company. Poor grammar and spelling errors show a lack of concern or laziness on your part.
- Use Blind Copy (BCC) and Courtesy Copy (CC) appropriately – when sending out an email to a distribution list use BCC so that the email addresses of the recipients are blind to the other recipients. This is very important to job searchers who decide that they want to send their resume to multiple sources at one time. This is not a practice I recommend, if you want to get a job you should take the time to personalize or customize for each company that you are responding to. Make sure that everyone on that list needs to be there.
- Keep the content professional and to the point.
- Summarize your content when needed to avoid lengthy emails.
- If your email is informational and you do not require a response put “No response required” in the subject line.
- Include a courteous greeting and closing to the email.
Things to avoid when using email in a business setting:
- Do not use “Reply All” – to avoid some of the embarrassing emails that we have all seen executives and other company employees do, put in each email separately. At the very least, review all the email addresses in the “To, CC and BCC” fields before sending.
- Using the company email address for personal email. Signing up for deals from the local hardware store or book store are not work related and should be directed to your personal email account.
- Use ALL CAPS or all lower case letters. ALL CAPS looks like you are shouting and all lower case gives the perception that you do not care about your image.
- Do not use shortcuts, emoticons, jargon or slang. Texting language is not appropriate in a business email. Again it shows a lack of respect and will make you look unprofessional.
At the end of the day every email that you send is a reflection of yourself. Being sloppy and not paying attention to what you are doing show that you are unprofessional and lazy. Whether you are a CEO or a job searcher looking for work, it can and will reflect on you. As a general rule of thumb, email should not be used to avoid tough situations at work. Those should be dealt with face to face. I hear so many stories about people who quit their job by email or in some cases, entire departments of companies being fired by email. These should never happen and it should be noted that some emails never reach their intended recipient. It reflects poorly on everyone involved. For more information on email etiquette a quick google search will yield hundreds of very good articles to read.