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E-mail Etiquette: E-mail Bloopers To Avoid
Nimish Thakkar, MS, MBA, CCMC, CPRW, SaiCareers.com, New York
January 03, 2006


E-mail has revolutionized the way we communicate with each other; from professional to personal, the medium powers it all. Despite its suitability for both professional and personal communications, the two must be approached very differently. While you may be at liberty to communicate informally with your friends and loved ones, corporate culture does not appreciate such liberties. Professionalism is absolutely important, even more so when you are job hunting. The written word is considered to be a reflection of the writer’s personality, and you certainly do not want to come across as being unprofessional.

Job seekers, especially students and new entrants to the workforce, commit many e-mail bloopers; in order to achieve a certain level of e-mail etiquette, avoid the following mistakes:

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Choose your e-mail address carefully
How often do I come across e-mail addresses like redhot@whatever.com or cooldude@xxx.com. If you wish to retain a certain identity for your personal messages, by all means do so, but try to choose a different e-mail address for professional and job search purposes. Professional exchanges -- even if conducted via e-mail -- are meant to be professional, not “cool.”

Avoid abbreviations
Don’t substitute a thank you with “TY.” Individuals tend to interpret abbreviations differently; some may not even understand what you are trying to say.

In the interest of professionalism, refrain from using cute smileys and other emoticons.

Internet lingo
A devastating effect of message boards, chats, and instant messaging is the widespread use of Internet jargons in important e-mails. Some writers have a tendency to load e-mail messages with alphabets like LOL (laughing out loud), BRB (be right back), and what not. Remember, you are not chatting with potential employers, you are communicating with them professionally.

Don’t write novels
Hiring managers are very busy people; avoid writing excessively lengthy e-mails. Learn to convey your thoughts in a concise, yet effective manner.

Don’t send out any message before proofreading it carefully.

Since an e-mail is generally read in the writer’s absence, it often lends itself to misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and miscommunications. Choose the tone of your e-mail very carefully and read through the message several times before hitting “send.”

Don’t rely on e-mail alone
Filters, spam blockers, and many other forms of automated software often delete important messages. Don’t rely on e-mail as your only means of communication. For formal purposes, such as thanking an interviewer or following-up, consider using snail mail as well.

Generic subject lines
Most job seekers use subject lines, such as “hello,” “application,” “help,” etc. Remember, hiring managers are inundated with hundreds of messages. Make your subject line compelling (and clear) enough to warrant immediate attention.

Don’t forget to sign your name
My biggest turnoff is an e-mail that is not signed with a name. I was once recruiting candidates for a very important project. Over 400 e-mails had arrived in response to my ad in the New York Times. 80% of these messages were not signed with a name. For goodness sake, if you ever follow-up with me, how am I supposed to trace you on the basis of an e-mail address alone? Don’t assume the hiring manager is going to search the pile of resumes to trace your e-mail address.

If you don’t like to sign your name with every message, consider creating an automated signature (most providers offer one).

Check your e-mail regularly
Some job seekers have a tendency to check e-mails once a week or even once a month. Remember, there are hundreds of candidates vying for the same position. If you are not quick enough to respond, someone else will grab the opportunity. Try to check your e-mail several times a day -- at least once every day.

Forgetting to reference
Since hiring managers communicate with hundreds of individuals, it may be a good idea to reference your conversation to a previous communication, conversation, letter, etc. Don’t assume you are the only one; make it easier for them to recognize you.

With the widespread usage of e-mails, it has become more important than ever to follow basic e-mail etiquette. Being conservative and professional is often the best approach, the one that works in most situations.

Related Articles:
Job Search Strategies And Tips
Online Job Search: Job Searching In The Digital Age
Job Search Mistakes


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