As you prepare to enter the workforce, it’s important that you adjust your communication style to present yourself as professional and personable in the business world. As college students, it’s often a struggle to be taken seriously by true professionals, and there’s always going to be the youth factor to contend with. But there are some ways you can emphasize your maturity and professionalism, and your email communication is a great place to start.
If you’re looking for ways to wow the people you’re working for, these are some good ways to start.
1. Ditch the slang.
Don’t use any casual terms that you would use with a friend or acquaintance. Speak properly and address people politely. If you want to get a snapshot of what your natural email style sounds like right off the bat, use this email tool age estimator!
2. Keep it concise.
If you’re emailing a professional, chances are they are busy. Don’t send them a giant block of text as an email and expect them to read through it. Even if they do, their first reaction to that email is going to be “ugh!”. Write out everything you want to say, then go through and edit it down to everything you need to say. Use short paragraphs and sentences to break up the text.
3. Don’t be sarcastic.
Your tone is very difficult to convey over email until you know the person. Keep the tone serious until the person knows you well enough to get your sense of humor.
4. Watch the exclamation points.
This is particularly important for women. Women tend to use exclamation points to soften the tone of their words over email and convey excitement. Exclamation points might soften your tone, but they also undermine your professionalism a bit because they are generally seen as casual and overenthusiastic. The same goes for emojis and smiley faces. Write your email like you’re writing a research paper and keep it formal.
5. Follow the recipient’s lead.
If you receive a response from the person and they sign it with their first name, that’s how you should address them. If they joke around or email you more casually, you can loosen up a little bit and respond naturally. You don’t want to be overly formal, because in that case, you aren’t really getting to be yourself. There’s a fine line to walk between professionalism and pomposity. Start off as professional as you can, but then let the tone of the conversation take over.
Yes, we all make minor typos and we all know that everyone does it sometimes but you don’t want the first thing your future employer sees to be a minor error in an email. Use spell check, run the email through Grammarly to double-check it, and then you can hit send.
It may seem unfair that you have to be so careful when communicating with professionals when they can send back a quick “Cool! Sent from my iPhone” as a response. But I guarantee they already put in the effort to be taken seriously, and now they have credibility. Build up your professional brand and then you can relax your communication rules.