For high school students, sending emails can often seem a uncomfortable or unnecessary.
- Has it ever seemed like a quick text would be a better way to contact someone?
- Do you only use your family’s email account if you absolutely need to?
- Is the only personal account you have for your gaming profiles or for entering online contests?
Here’s the truth: many businesses, employers, post-secondary institutions, and other professionals use email as an essential mode of communication.
So, to make a good first impression on a potential employer, your professor, or just someone who can help you, check out these tips for using email. Once you get used to it, it’s actually not that bad!
1) Set up an account with an appropriate address (and check your email regularly!)
Here’s the thing: [email protected] might be cute to people in your circle, but is this what a potential employer should associate with your name? (The answer is NO; well, unless your name is actually Stud Muffin and your favourite number is 27. Apologies for this example. You do you, Mr. Muffin.)
Create an email account with an address that is simple and integrates your name in some way. [email protected] or [email protected]? Nice work, Sally! [email protected] or [email protected]? You’re doing well too, Ahmad!
Once your account is set up and you’ve used it for communication, make sure you check your email daily. Do you have a mobile phone? Set up notifications to help you remember to check your inbox!
2) Format your emails properly
Remember, this isn’t a text message. The way you format an email can affect the impression that you make on the recipient. Try these 3 things:
- Use a clear, purposeful, concise subject line. Need to meet face-to-face on Tuesday at 10am? Try “Meeting on Tuesday?”. Want to introduce yourself? How about “Introduction”? Make it short and make sure it relates to your reason for sending the email in the first place.
- Start the body of the email with a respectful greeting—especially if you haven’t met the recipient before. Look up some information about the recipient online. Does she have a PhD? Try “Hello, Dr. Smith” or simply “Dr. Smith”. After your initial contact, you may use the person’s first name, if she has corrected you or signed a previous email with it. Also, you don’t necessarily need a greeting if you are sending a response to an ongoing email conversation.
- Sign off in a positive way and include your name. Think of how the bottom of a traditional letter looks:
3) Be purposeful & concise
Think about why you are sending an email in the first place. Make sure that your purpose is clear in the first or (at the latest) the second sentence.
If you need a task done, aim for 50 words or less. If you are going over 100 words, ask if you should include the content as an attached letter instead.
4) Use a positive & courteous tone
Have you heard that you can “attract more bees with honey”? No? Well, don’t worry about it right now.
No matter the purpose of your email, be positive and courteous with your word choices. This is important if you want to make a good first impression and/or get something you want: a job interview, feedback on an essay, better customer service, or if that person you thought was a friend “borrowed” your bike two weeks ago and now you want it back.
Sorry about your bike, but don’t resort to anger. Just like texts and content we post online, emails can be permanent, and you’re more likely to get a response if you focus on your purpose while being clear and positive.
By the way, the saying is actually “you can attract more flies with honey.” Look it up.
5) Proofread before you hit send!
We’ll save you time. Just look at this checklist:
- Correct address for your recipient(s)?
- Accurate attachment(s)?
- Spelling and grammar? (This isn’t a text to your bestie…)
- (Speaking of besties) Don’t use emojis, and minimize the exclamation marks no matter how excited you are to be emailing.
Once you send a few emails using these tips, you’ll quickly become an expert. Let’s wrap up by asking you something this way:
Subject: Email Article Follow-Up
Did you learn something from this article? If so, we hope you will look at more of our employABILITY resources. Please contact us through our site if you have any questions.
Thank you for your time,
The SIEC Team