I used to think that a lot of office jobs mostly involved drinking coffee and reading emails, and now I know that I was right all along. Emails are the main part of a lot of office jobs, keeping in touch with the internal team, clients and more. But how exactly do you write a professional email at work?
It’s a mystery to us all when we first start working and something that can take a good while to master. I’ve put together some tips – with the help of my lovely colleagues – on how to email at work.
This might not apply to all lines of work, so it’s important to have conversations with your manager or team about whether there are specific rules or best practices at your company.
Make sure you reply
The main thing to remember when emailing is to just reply. If someone has gone out of their way to email you, or has sent a piece of work for you that has taken up time in their day, it is really important to reply and acknowledge their email and effort.
Even if you don’t have the time to look at what someone has asked you just yet, or if you’ve got a meeting the following week to discuss it, it takes about ten seconds to send a simple “Hi, That’s great, thank you. Best wishes” It takes even less time if you have your email signature on automatically – huge time saver in general, by the way.
Review your email before sending
There’s nothing worse than having to send another email with a “sorry, here’s the attachment.” or “sorry, I meant shut*”.
Always take the time to review your email before sending, checking for any spelling mistakes, missing attachments or random recipients that have crept in. Email programmes have a feature where they suggest contacts to send to, so make sure you have selected the right one before sending!
Add the recipient last to avoid sending too early
If you’re feeling anxious about who you’re emailing, what you’re saying or just don’t want to make a bad impression, remove the recipient until you’re ready to send the email. This way you can avoid any awkward conversations that occur from sending a half-finished email or before you’ve had the chance to read it through.
Don’t let your call to action get lost in the message
If you’re sending an email to ask someone to do something for you, put your call to action as near to the top as you can. This way the recipient knows exactly what you want from them and when by.
It’s also important to note that sometimes a call is a lot easier than an email to ask for something, so work out whether it’s best to just pick up the phone instead of typing an email. You can always put things down in an email afterwards if you need a paper trail.
What to put in the subject line – be concise and clear
Always be really clear and specific about the email in the subject line, this is what people will see first so it’s good to give as much detail as you can in a few words – it’s a lot easier than it sounds.
If you’re emailing about a certain client, project or event, put that first and then a couple of words about the specifics. It can also be helpful to put what the action is at the start of the subject line, so the reader instantly knows what’s expected of them. For example, you might put “For review – Client Name Final Draft”.
Subject lines are really helpful for not only instantly grabbing the reader’s attention, but makes it so much easier to find emails relating to a certain client or event simply by typing in the name.
A little reminder, too. Not everyone will email how you do, people might not acknowledge your ‘How are you?’, and sometimes people might not even reply, but it’s important that as a young professional you keep up with best practice. As you go through the positions in a company and find yourself with less time, remember that it doesn’t take even ten seconds to do some of these things.
So how many of these email etiquettes do you put into practice at work, or do you have any other tips that you’d like to share?
If you’d like to read more tips about emailing and other best practices at work, sign up to my mailing list to be the first to access my e-book “How to survive your first year after university” or check out this blog post for more tips about dealing with your email inbox.