There are literally countless of things CUSP staff assist our clients with on a daily basis. However, one thing that always comes up is how to communicate appropriately with different professionals. Whether it is for college admissions, a professor on faculty member or to schedule a job interview, we are consistently working on how to advocate and represent ourselves in the best way possible. Here are some tips on what to do (and not do) when crafting an email.
While this may seem obvious, grammar is key. That means resisting the trigger finger urge to send right away and going through your email after it is written. Look for obvious misspellings and sentence structure errors, but also keep in mind that emails are not the place for abbreviations, nor are they the place for excessive punctuation (i.e. exclamation points and question marks) or capitalizations (you don’t want to come off as too aggressive).
Speaking of aggression, you don’t want your email to come off as hostile or rude. Penning a condescending email is not a way to get what you want, and it certainly won’t be appreciated by the recipient. For example, if you’re emailing a professor about an assignment misunderstanding, the email is not the place to make a comment about his/her clarity in class.You want to be persuasive, and being anything but polite will have an effect.
No matter who you’re emailing, being polite is vital. It goes hand in hand with respect, and should be a lens through which you look at every component of your email.Make sure you have properly addressed your recipient with a greeting and their name to start off with, and if the situation permits, feel free to add a “hope all is well” or other cursory introduction before launching into your main point or request. Always sign off the email politely, with a variation of “Thank you for your time, [insert name]” or at the very least, a “Thanks/Best, [insert name].”
While being polite may require a few extra words, it is still important not to belabor your point (or your appreciation – brown nosing is rarely appreciated) too much. No one wants to read paragraphs in their inbox when your main subject can be summed up into a few clear sentences. Utilize the subject line as a quick synopsis, as this will not only provide as a hook for your email, but also prevent you from having to waste too many words on introducing your point. All it will do is cause the reader to lose focus and skim, which is not ideal. When proof reading, a good test is making sure that every sentence written has a purpose.
5. Be yourself – To a Certain Extent
Like my college counselor told me, “If you’re not funny, don’t choose your application to start trying.” The same thinking applies to email. It is not a good idea to crack jokes or try too hard to be witty, but if the correspondence permits, and there’s somewhere to add a more personal touch, go for it. It will make the email sound less robotic, and a little bit of a personal flair isn’t a bad thing.
Just remember these tips and you’ll avoid the post-email cringes and be able to confidently hit that send button like the email savvy person you are!