News & Views‌

How to email like a professional

September 16, 2016 - 12:00am
UNIBusiness Editor
Writing an email

By: Dale Cyphert (Associate Professor of Management) originally posted at on 2/24/2011

Getting ready to follow up on that conversation at the Career Fair?  Thinking about asking your former employer about an internship?  Wondering whether your professor will write you a letter of recommendation?  If so, you're probably thinking of writing an email.  Think about writing one that highlights your professionalism!

You've probably thought of the obvious things...using a professional email address rather than ""....Starting the message with "Dear Mr. Smith" instead of "Yo!"... Spelling words out and avoiding emoticons or "text talk".   These are mistakes that can get an email deleted unread, and this is basic good sense.

Now, raise the bar another notch, and use the email to showcase your professionalism.  Business readers get used to reading well-organized emails with complete signatures.  If yours rambles on and leaves out your contact information, it sends the message that you aren't yet a professional! Here's a quick checklist: 

1. Write an informative subject line. That recruiter will get hundreds of messages, and one titled "About Your Opening" is not going to stand out.  Something like "Sending the Resume You Requested at UNI Career Fair" is more helpful!

2. Start with a summary paragraph that provides the purpose of the email and your main points. Don't ramble on through a few points, finally ending up with the question that you actually want answered. Start with the main point, followed by supporting details or explanations.

3. A business email always ends with a complete signature, which includes name, title, and full contact information.  If that recruiter wants to call you back, she'd better be able to find a phone number to do so, and the place she'll look is in the signature.

By the way, UNI professors also respond better to professional emails.  A recent study conducted in the department of Communication Studies* found that professors are "often frustrated or annoyed by emails they deemed ‘unprofessional."  If you want to be persuasive with the professor and develop a professional reputation that will get you that letter of recommendation down the road, practice your professional emails while you're still at UNIBusiness!

*Wetlaufer, T. "Professors’ Perceptions Concerning the Effectiveness of Email Communication with Undergraduate Students: A Qualitative Study"


UNI Business

UNIBusiness Editor

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