How to Write a Professional Email

Written by Mallie Woodfin, Recruitment and Admissions AssociateMail-icon

An email is a digital first impression. Studies show you only have 7 seconds to make a good first impression. So, let’s say you only have 7 words to make a good email first impression. Below you will find important tips to make sure your email won’t get moved to the trash folder.

A professional email address:

  • Your email address is technically the first impression before the first impression. This tells the reader a lot about you personally. Make sure you have a professional email address when communicating with those other than your friends. Get rid of your middle school surferboy25@aol.com. You can create an email address for free with Gmail or Yahoo. Keep it simple and professional with firstname.lastname@gmail.com.

Subject Line:

  • This is the first thing the reader will see in their inbox other than your email address. Whether you are emailing about a potential job, an interview or asking a general question, make sure the subject line is detailed, to the point and references what your email message is about.

Email:

  • Salutation: Address the person appropriately. If the reader is a doctor, address him/her as such. Always use their last name unless they insist you call them by their first. If you are unsure of the marital status of a woman, use Ms. not Mrs. Addressing someone incorrectly can be insulting.
  • Greeting: This should always be the first thing in an email no matter how informal the email is. Dear Mr. Jones is appropriate for the first conversation. Once you have had a few correspondences you can switch to Hello. Use your judgment on who you are writing to.
  • Start the paragraph with a nice sentence: “I hope you are having a good week.”
  • Introduction: Be sure to introduce yourself, especially if you are emailing the reader for the first time. For example- My name is John Smith, we met at the reception last night and spoke about higher education. Or- My name is John Smith, my colleague gave me your contact information regarding an open position in your department.
  • Body: Keep the email to 1-2 paragraphs max. People are busy and don’t want to take 15 minutes out of their schedule to read an email from someone they don’t know. To avoid an “I’ll come back to this, but not really” response, include all facts and get to the point early on. This ensures interest and a good chance they will reply.
  • Show some of your personality in your email. If the reader can get a feel for how you would be in person, this may also illicit a response.
  • Signature: Same as the greeting, end your email so the reader knows you have ended the conversation. A good go-to is Sincerely, your name. ‘Best’ and ‘Regards’ work well too.

Follow Up:

  • If the reader takes the time to reply, you should respond as well. If their response is a general “Thanks for the email, I will be in touch.” and you don’t think a response is needed, reply anyway. You can say “Great. Thank you for taking the time to read my email, I look forward to hearing from you.” This shows that you are enthusiastic about the subject you are discussing.

Here is a sample email:

To: Sam.Jones@usn.org
(From: Catherine.Smith@gmail.com)
Subject: Information on the internship opening

Dear Mr. Jones,

I hope this email finds you well. My name is Catherine Smith and we spoke at the senior breakfast a few days ago. I wanted to reach out to you regarding the internship you mentioned that is available in your office. I am very interested in learning more about the position and speaking with you about possible consideration. Please let me know if there are any materials I may send at this time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Catherine
900-501-1234

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