For anyone who ever thinks emails don’t matter, here are the stats: a 2020 survey done by Kaspersky, a multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus company, found that Singaporeans spend an average of 6 hours and 17 minutes online daily, with 65% spending the most amount of time on emails.
That’s a lot of time reading and writing digital prose, and also why it matters how you come across on email in your professional life. Here are five tips to make sure you don’t frantically click “unsend” in the future.
1. Don’t subject recipients to bad subject lines
Have you ever read emails from spammy websites where the subject line is a tease, or doesn’t link to the point of the email at all? Those can be frustrating and a turn-off for the receiver.
Worst of all if you’re a jobseeker, makes it harder for the HR manager or recruiter to find your name in their inbox! When in doubt, just keep it simple and use formats such as: “Regarding xxx position: Your Name”
2. Use bullet points, and make sure the point of the email is clear
Bullet points make it much easier for the reader to see the gist of what you’re reaching out about. If the reader is supposed to do something after receiving your email, highlight that at the end. For example:
“Thank you for taking the time to look at my resume. If there’s any further thoughts or questions on my suitability for the position, do feel free to let me know!”
3. Keep it short
No one really has the patience or time to read a 15-paragraph email, so if you’ve gone past even four paragraphs, it might be time to start looking where you’re over-elaborating or just missing the point. Less is more.
Zarina Abu Bakar, a certified Career Practitioner with Workforce Singapore (WSG) shared this to jobseekers: “The email should adhere to the KISS (Keep It Short & Simple) philosophy and be concise.”
She also shared a bonus tip when it comes to sending resumes online: “For job applications, your email body can actually serve as a cover letter, so don’t duplicate that by sending an additional CV together with our resume in your attachments.”
Zarina certainly knows her stuff! In the past 13 years, she has specialised in helping professionals through career exploration and coaching on resumes, job interviews and professional branding, helping over 3,000 professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) to move into careers that align with their career values, interests and strengths.
4. Tone and courtesy matters
Always open your email with a pleasantry. If it’s a Monday, start off by saying: “I hope you had a good weekend”. Also watch the use of exclamation marks, or use of any inflammatory words as well. You might think you’re coming off as enthusiastic or excited by saying: “Make sure you check out my resume attached!” …. but you’re not.
But if you must use exclamation marks… stick to just one. In 2019, digital writing assistant Grammarly released results on their survey on workplace emails, which found that 37% believe that’s appropriate, and the maximum you should see in a professional email, which 19% actually believe exclamations aren’t appropriate at all in workplace emails! (See what we did there?)
5. Finally… always proofread you emails
Sending out an email with typos or misspelt words is never impressive. And this happens far more often than you’d think. Grammarly’s survey found that 93% of respondents had made email blunders, with 64% of the typo or grammatical variety.
The solution? Double read your emails before clicking send, of course. When in doubt, copy and paste important emails over to your word processor (i.e., Microsoft Word or Google Docs) just to let good old spellcheck do a quick scan to see if you’ve missed anything.
And if you’re a guy, do be more careful. One last interesting stat from Grammarly’s study: 33% of women and 45% of men read their emails only once before clicking send.