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 Writing a Professional E-Mail Is Critical

By Joe Stein

As the job search process evolves, the communication between a prospective employer and a Job Seeker has moved more in the direction of e-mail than phone conversation. The move towards e-mail has occurred, in particular, when it comes to opening contact between the parties and/or scheduling appointments. While I personally would prefer the more old fashioned personal contact, the reality is that a Job Seeker now must be ready and able to write a professional e-mail.
 
The challenge for a Job Seeker is that most written e-mail, done for both personal and professional reasons, has become too informal for the job search process. This, unfortunately, means that most Job Seekers have either never learned how to write a professional e-mail, or have developed such bad habits that he or she can’t do it well anymore.   I know when I am in Recruiter mode, I find myself becoming impressed when someone can write well, as it is not something that you find that often.
 
It is important to error on the side of caution when it comes to writing your e-mail. E-mail has a much greater tendency to be misinterpreted, since the parties are not together to explain tone or meaning, and there is not the visual of expressed body language. It is, therefore, important that you take a conservative approach to these e-mails, so you can avoid having a simple communication exchange become a disqualifier for you.
 
The following are some quick tips on what to make sure you include or do when writing a professional e-mail to a Recruiter. A quick note prior to my list is that it may be easier to write this type of e-mail using a regular desktop or laptop, rather than a smartphone. The physical keyboard and the larger screen may make it easier to type, along with improving your ability to proofread and correct any errors.
 
·         Include a Proper Greeting – You do not have a relationship with the Recruiter or Hiring Manager that will allow you to avoid a proper salutation. So, make sure to start your e-mail with a Dear and that person’s first name. If you do not know the person’s first name (and it is good to try to find out), use the “Sir or Madam” greeting. This generic greeting is not ideal, but better than using a more casual approach that might offend. Do not start your e-mail with a casual “Hi” or “Good Morning”. 
·         Check Your Spelling and Grammar – In today’s world, proper spelling and grammar is becoming a lost art.  In your everyday written conversation, many people are used to misspelling words and not bothering to correct them. This lack of attention of detail is not acceptable in a professional e-mail. Please make sure you re-read the document and spell check it until it is perfect. If you are using a smartphone (which, as stated above, I do not recommend), watch out for your auto-correct feature which can change words without you even knowing or approving.
·         Do Not Abbreviate – Your professional e-mail is not like writing a text message. Do not abbreviate words such as using “u” for “you”. While you do not want an overly long e-mail, you are not limited in the number of characters you can use. Write everything out!
·         Write in Full Sentences - Be sure to write in full and complete sentences rather than short fragments of thought. Please follow proper sentence structure. If there is a need for paragraphs, then please break up the sentences accordingly (without having the document too long…2-3 paragraphs should be the max.). Sometimes a sentence is all that is needed, and that is OK as long as you have a proper greeting and closure.
·         Close Properly – End the e-mail with a “Sincerely” or a “Thank You” and your name. Be sure to leave your contact information at the end so that the reader can easily contact you if needed. 
 
Most of today’s communication has moved towards shorter and much more casual conversation. An exception to this trend for you should be your e-mails written to Recruiters or Hiring Managers. In these instances, you should follow a more formal structure and professional guidelines. Your e-mail conversation will play an important role in how you will be perceived by the prospective employer, especially in terms of first impressions. You want to make sure you are presenting yourself in a professional manner.
 
As always, best of luck in your job search.