When Emailing Employers, Think Before You Send



Slang, abbreviations and emoticons saturate today’s online conversations.  We LOL, ROTFL and GTFO with a broad 🙂 on our faces. Writing informally is quick and natural to us. But we are entering the spring internship application season, when impressive online communication can make or break a job offer. Never fear: The Observer has compiled a list of steps you can take to ensure that your emails make you look like a professional without even using a briefcase icon from Emoji.

1. Use a professional email address

Your email address should consist of your first name (or initial), your last name and if needed, a few numbers. Delete any childish emails along the lines of [email protected] or [email protected]. Your employer should be able to look at your e-mail address and know it belongs to you.   Using your Fordham e-mail might be a good choice, since it ends with an “edu” extension and lets your recipient know you are a student. “Email addresses should not give away your age, date of birth or marital status,” Abigail Ferreira said, career counselor at Fordham’s Graduate School of Education.

 2. Make your subject line clear and concise   

The subject line of your email should describe exactly what you are writing about. If you are sending in an application for a summer internship, make the subject just that: “Summer Internship Application.” A blank subject line is unacceptable. You do not need to include your name in the subject line; it would be redundant because at this point you have a mature email address, right?

 3.  Reread Your Message 

Remember that once you send an email, there is no way of editing or retrieving it. Always triple or quadruple check what you write. Use clean grammar, correct punctuation and spell correctly. If your emailing system does not have spell-check, copy and paste your message into Microsoft Word and keep an eye out for those green and red squiggly lines. Check company websites and official letters to make sure your employer’s name is spelled accurately. “Be very conscious of content,” Ferreira warned. “Remember: emails are permanent. Don’t send emails when you’re angry or upset. Avoid exclamation points. Don’t write anything private that can be used against you.”

4. Address the recipient appropriately

Find out what prefix your employer prefers: Mr., Dr., Prof., Ms. or Mrs. If you are unable to do so and your employer is female, steer clear of using “Mrs.” even if you happen to know she is married. Some wives simply prefer the neutral “Ms.” However cool your employer may end up being, do not joke over email. Tone is not conveyed electronically. Your employer may take your message the wrong way. Your employer does not need nicknames, either, whether they are positive or negative.

5. Know whether your subject really warrants an email

In the professional world, there is most definitely such a thing as a stupid question. Before you ask your employer, see if you can find out the answer yourself. You want your boss to know you are aware and self-sufficient. Still, do not be afraid to contact your boss if you have a legitimate question that she can answer. She will most likely be happy to hear from you if you are genuinely trying to learn how to do your job to the best of your abilities.

6. Wait until an appropriate hour to send your email

Once you know what and how to write, you must know when to write it. If your inquiries and concerns arise during the weekend and are not pressing, wait until Monday to inform your employer. No one likes to be bothered during days off. “Don’t send emails at odd hours, like 3 a.m.” Ferreira added. When a possible employer interviews you or an existing employer does you a favor, make sure to send an e-mail thanking him or her. “But no thank-you notes for trivial things,” Ferreira added, “like if your employer opened a door for you.”

7. Finish strong

Lastly, complete your email by signing your first and last name, accompanied, if you wish, by an appropriate farewell such as “Respectfully, (Your Name).” Ferreira emphasized: “The most important thing is to keep the language and format professional.”