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How to write a professional email

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

The DOs and DON'Ts of writing and sending a professional email


A life skill, not many people talk about. We all have been on the receiving end of an email that made us cringe. But whilst a few of us thought, “Uhm, this one could use a few of the tips from that article I read on ReadySetJob”, the rest made an enemy for life. But how many have taken the time to give some helpful pointers to one of those email misusers? Here it is for whoever needs to hear it (or read it). What makes an email really sound off?

how to write a professional email

The 10 biggest mistakes people make when writing a formal or professional email.

  1. Using informal greetings (Hey, Hi, Hello, etc.).

  2. Spelling the name of the receiver wrong. Or any speling mistakes in general.

  3. Use of any colour that is not black or dark blue.

  4. Poor use of punctuation!!!

  5. poor use of Capitalization.

  6. Not checking their email signature.

  7. Using a silly email address.

  8. Going round and round, trying to find an alternative way to say something incredibly simple but instead using something long, unnecessary, overly complicated and with far too many adjectives than necessary, just to avoid getting to the point.

  9. Sending a follow-up email within the same day.

  10. Ignoring automatic replies.

how to write a professional email

Of course, there are many more ways to get it wrong, but as a general guideline, by avoiding those mistakes, you should be safe.

Now, let’s look at some best practices when writing a formal email, or in this case when you are emailing your job application.

  1. Use a short, clear, and concise subject line. You want the receiver to know exactly what to expect to find in your email once they open it. Avoid a RE: subject line at all costs unless it actually is a response email.

  2. Address the receiver by Dear Mr or Mrs Last Name. It would be best not to use someone’s first name unless they have instructed you to do so. After all, being addressed by their last name will make them feel good about themselves and, consequently, about you.

  3. Add a short “I trust my email finds you well”. Anything longer than this is unnecessary and often unwelcome. How would you feel if you were to receive, from a stranger, anything like “I truly hope this email finds you well, healthy, and generally in good shape”? Creepy right? This is extreme and unlikely, but you get my point.

  4. Go straight to the reason why you are emailing them. In most cases, the receiver is dealing with a large number of emails daily. You don’t want to be just another unnecessary long email to read at the end of a long and busy shift if they work in operations. So, please don’t waste any words and risk getting them bored before you have made your point.

  5. Explain your arguments as clearly and concisely as possible. If you are dealing with something you can’t explain in a few lines, offer to discuss it further over a phone call. Imagine receiving a 500-word essay in an email first thing on Monday morning. (That is as long as this article, so far!)

  6. The best time to send (and receive) an email, some say, is on Tuesday mornings. You don’t want to risk being part of the 200+ emails they have received throughout the weekend and being dealt with during the Monday morning blues. (If at all possible, obviously, you shouldn’t wait a week to send an email).

  7. Make yourself available for further questions or clarifications.

  8. Thank the reader for their time.

  9. Finish with Best Regards or Kindest Regards, your full name.

  10. That is it.

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