10 Rules to Ensure Your Emails Get Read

You write more emails each day than you can count.  Let’s make sure your email communication style isn’t putting people off.   Here are 10 simple, yet very important rules to follow when sending emails:

1.    What’s the subject?  Use an informative subject line.  Avoid using vague subject lines like ‘hi’ or ‘application’.   Be specific so it’s obvious what the email is about. 

2.    Get off on the right foot.  Be professional with how you start and end emails.  Avoid casual opening and closing remarks like ‘hey’, ‘later’, ‘ciao’, etc.  Using ‘hello’ or ‘hi’ to start the email is fine when combined with the person’s name. And ending with ‘thanks’, ‘thank you,’ or ‘best’ are all good choices.  

3.    Get to the point quickly.  Don’t assume the recipient knows what you’re talking about. In that first sentence, you should be specific and concise with why you’re sending the email.  

4.    Keep it tight.  Time is one of the most important commodities for mid-level and senior-level executives.  Say what you need to say as concisely as you can.  Anything over 150-200 words looks like work to the reader and they may just dismiss it and not even respond your email.  

5.    Sign it.  In most email programs, you can set up an email signature that will automatically include your name and any other details you’d like in every email you send.  I suggest including your full name and phone number as a baseline.  You could also include your job title, website, or LinkedIn profile.  The number of emails I receive with no phone number in the signature really surprises me.  It should be easy for people to get in touch with you.

6.    Limit your excitement.  Inserting multiple !!! in an email will make you seem young and unprofessional.  Occasional use of one exclamation mark is appropriate.  

7.    Manage attachments.  Be careful not to put people off by sending multiple attachments. Generally speaking, sending anything over 8MB isn’t a good idea as many companies have mailbox size limitations. Use free file sharing services like WeTransfer to send large files without clogging up recipients’ inboxes. If you’re sending anything over 3-4MB apologize to the recipient for the large file. Also, be sure any attachments are properly labelled.

8.    Proofread. Spelling mistakes in an email can be a big turn off in terms of gauging your attention to detail.  Don’t let this easy-to-fix issue happen to you. Spell check is great but also reread the email yourself for nuances spell check won’t catch.

9.    Be aware of ‘reply all’.  Double check who the email is going to before you press send. You might have accidentally pressed reply all and not have meant to.  Don’t include people unless they actually need to be included as people don’t appreciate extra unnecessary emails. 

10.  You have 24 hours.  Once you receive an email, the clock is ticking.  My rule is you have 24 hours max to respond to an email that is related to your career. Your response time speaks to how on top of things you are and implies a standard around how you conduct yourself professionally.  Also avoid middle of the night replies as those may make you look crazy.

Double check you’re following these quick tips in order to best represent yourself.  Often our first impression is a virtual one so small things like how you communicate over email matter.  

Want more help stepping up your game? My online course covers communication, networking, interviewing, and more.  Learn more.

Until next time …follow me on Twitter at @MadeToHire, Instagram, and on Facebook.  

Merryn Roberts-Huntley