The Art of Email

Millennials today are very aware of the competitive job market they will face after graduation.

Students today are not naïve to the hard work it takes to find employment. Throughout their education, students are reminded of what is needed to succeed in finding a career – good grades, relevant experience, community involvement, volunteering – the list goes on.

But what happens after finding a job?

One of the surprising challenges Millennials face is sending a professional email.

Millennials today are technologically adept. Thanks to social media, Millennials are also connected and primarily communicate digitally. You would think that being technologically savvy and constantly texting would make sending e-mails easy – but that is simply not the case.

You could sound too professional and come across harsh. To make up for sounding harsh, you overcompensate and become far too wordy. Choosing an appropriate subject line is the stuff that nightmares are made of. Sending a professional, polite, and to-the-point email is a lesson that doesn’t really fit in a classroom. However, it is a needed skill that must be learned before entering the workforce.

Here’s some tips to succeed at the art of e-mail:

  • Start strong with the subject. Do not leave an e-mail subject blank! A clear, concise subject line helps both the sender and the receiver make sense of a full inbox.
  • Use professional language. Work e-mails aren’t the place for abbreviations, slang, or emoticons.
  • Keep it short. Less is more, especially when it comes to e-mails. When an e-mail is brief, the point is more likely to be clear and less time will be spent digesting the content.
  • Be kind. Do you remember being taught, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? The same thing goes for e-mail. Unfortunately, the tone in which you write the e-mail is not always the tone in which is read. If possible, preface a negative comment with a positive one.
  • Attachment awareness. Indicate if there are attachments in the e-mail and be sure that the files attached are named accurately.
  • Proofreading saves lives. Not really, but proofreading before pressing send will prevent a death by embarrassment.

And when it comes to replying:

  • Reply promptly. E-mails that are time sensitive must be handled quickly and within the stated time. All other e-mails should be replied to within 24-48 hours. If the information requested in the e-mail will not be ready within the 24-48 hour timeframe, send a short e-mail stating when you expect to get back to them. If you will be unable to check e-mail for an extended period of time, be sure to set an auto-reply indicating when you will be back and the contact information for urgent matters.
  • Beware of reply all. The importance of an e-mail is not measured by how many people it is sent to. A never-ending chain e-mail is a nuisance. If it is only appropriate to reply to one or two people in the e-mail, reply to them directly or begin a new chain.

New graduates will inevitably face stress from the start of the job hunt throughout their careers. Hopefully these tips will eliminate some of that stress and let you put your best foot forward, via e-mail of course.

Kristen Brownlow
Office Administration – Legal, 2018


Welcome to Summer student, Kristen as a guest blogger on the ABC:Alumni Blog Connection. 

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