Tip Tuesday: Email Etiquette

It’s so easy nowadays to become accustomed to informal communication using abbreviations and acronyms in the style of social media and disregard correct grammar. However, when it comes to anything career-related, this type of communication is inappropriate. Whether you’re contacting someone about an informational interview or communicating with a recruiter during the interviewing process, it’s important to craft formal email messages to them.


One thing to be aware of with professional communication is that you should always reply promptly. If you won’t be able to fully respond within 24 hours, reply to at least let the other person know that you’ve received their email, explain your brief delay in response and provide a time window they can expect to hear from you. If you are attaching documents (cover letter, resume, etc.) make sure to refer to them in your message. These documents should also be sent in a PDF version.

Finally, it’s helpful to use a signature block that allows the other party to quickly reference your contact information. For example:


Sam Spider
University of Richmond ‘14
(804) 555-1234

Take a look at these additional tips as you draft a professional email:


  • Use the appropriate salutation for the person that you’re contacting (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.)
  • Check your spelling, grammar and use complete sentences (spell check is helpful for this!)
  • Use correct capitalization, especially with “I”
  • Use a greeting and closing such as “Dear Mr. Jones” and “Sincerely, Sam Spider”
  • Separate your message into separate paragraphs as needed, reading one large chunk of text is not visually appealing
  • Be specific with why you’re contacting them and what information you may be seeking


  • Use abbreviations, text message lingo or slang (ex. LOL, BTW, etc.)
  • Use smiley faces, emoticons or graphics
  • Write too much: keep your message to a length where the other person would not have to scroll down to finish reading the email
  • Leave the subject line blank: fill it in with a title that is specific to the reason you’re contacting the other person

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