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E-mail has generally been used as an informal means of communication. However, as it becomes an increasingly common means of communicating for contacting your lecturers, job application process, requesting information for your project/courses I am presenting a guide to writing a professional e-mail.
The following rules should be used for e-mail when writing or responding to: lecturers or other staff of the university, potential employers, co-workers, colleagues and business members. You will be taken seriously, and will often be given more credibility. Common mistakes are:
Because the e-mail has become a mainstream form of communication, students may not easily switch from casual and conversational e-mail to professional e-mail. I cautioned a student about practicing the use of professional writing after reading an e-mail he sent - it was full of emoticons and phonetic spellings. He used "plz" for "please", "ur" for "you're or your;" he used "i" for "I", and also used many other common e-mail exchanges. We discussed how his habit could greatly affect his ability to get a job, and worked extensively on what he might write in an e-mail to an employer. A few days later I received an e-mail from the student, asking me for clarification on a piece of course work. Although we had discussed his style of e-mail writing, he still had mistakes!
Rules of the road for e-mailing lecturers
When mailing a lecturer, ALWAYS include your full name, student number, programme and the start date of it.
Ensure that the email content is specifically regarding the subject title and not from some other e-mail that is not even remotely contacted to your current e-mail.
Think twice about whether or not the content of your email is appropriate for virtual correspondence - once you hit Send, anyone might be able to read it.
Try to keep the email brief (one screen length).
Check for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors before clicking Send.
Use a professional font, not decorative.
Write in a positive tone
When I complete the assignment versus If I complete the assignment.
Avoid using negative words.
Words that begin with "un, non, or ex" or end with "less"
Bad Topics for Email - there are some rules that it is best to follow, such as:
Do not try to turn in an assignment through email if your lecturer has specified against it.
If you have to get an extension for an assignment, do it in person.
Do not bring up any topic that will require continuous conversation.
If things become heated, there is a large risk for misunderstanding, so it is best to talk face-to-face.
Rules of the road for job application
Professional e-mail is very different from casual e-mail or instant messenger. Remember: it's easier to be ruled out than ruled in for a position. Here are some rules to consider when writing an e-mail in which you are job prospecting or applying for a job:
Always introduce yourself the same way you would in a cover letter.
Dear Mr./Ms. So and So,
I am writing in regard to your posting onâ€¦.for XYZ position in financial services.
Treat your e-mail as if you were writing a professional cover or thank-you letter on paper, but be brief.
In the subject line, make it obvious why you are writing: "Application for XYZ position."
Make sure you change the contact name and content according to the person/company to whom you are sending the message.
If you are responding to an e-mail, include the original message in the reply, so the receiver can put your e-mail into the correct context. Also, respond within two business days.
Always spell words correctly! Â· Do not just use spell check? It will not catch words that are spelled correctly, but are misused within the context of the sentence.
Never use all capital letters. People will think that you are screaming at them. It is also difficult to read.
Think about the message your e-mail address sends. Keep your address simple, and avoid unprofessional sounding names like "studmuffin" or "partygirl."
Read your message carefully before you click the Send button. The tone of an e-mail can often be misinterpreted.
Have someone else proof read your message before you Send it. It may be easier to find errors if you print and review your e-mail.
Scan your resume for viruses before you attach it to your e-mail.
Name your document "your name, resume." Employers receive hundreds of resumes via e-mail. If you follow-up by asking recruiters if they received your e-mail, they will not have to look through 300 attachments called "resume."
If you are attaching your resume, ask the receiver if they would prefer that you send it in a different format, i.e.: Word, rich text format, or as a PDF.
Do not assume that if an employer is informal that you should be too!
Do not just rely on e-mail. E-mail can be lost. Follow-ups can often be done via the telephone or regular mail.