Electronic Etiquette

These days almost all communication is electronic. Electronic communication is much faster, that’s one of the great benefits, but in our hurry to communicate everything at the speed of light, it’s easy to get sloppy.

Let’s talk email.

Email is wonderful. It’s quick and efficient, and can be a great tool for both job search and career advancement. So here’s a short refresher on a few guidelines, especially if you’re using email to reach out to a potential hiring manager.

Keep it concise. People tend to scan things, so if your message is too long, they may miss a key point. If your message is more than three or four paragraphs, consider editing or using an attachment.

Make sure it’s grammatically correct and everything is spelled accurately. This is still business communication. It’s extremely unprofessional to send out an email that contains misspelled words and incomplete sentences. Proofread and edit your email before you send it. Your reader may make judgments about you.

Use the same consideration you would if you were sending a letter. Utilize white space and bullets – perfect for scanning – for key points and thoughts.

Create a subject line that makes it clear what the message is about. You can announce your purpose, share a personal connection, or reveal a fact contained within. Your reader will appreciate this and it may enhance readership.

Include an appropriate greeting – Dear Ms. Brown – just like you would in a business letter. Include an appropriate closing as well.

Don’t use acronyms, abbreviations or emojis. Again, this is business communication.

Respond promptly to emails you receive. This is an important way for people to learn to take you seriously, as someone who respects and acknowledges others. They may not be able to articulate why they think better of you, but they will.

Remember, once you hit send, it’s gone. You can’t take it back.

Let’s talk texting.

Texting is also terrific and can be very useful in an expanding set of business situations, sometimes even in job search if the recipient is already acquainted with you.

A text implies some urgency, so don’t overuse it. If your message is longer than a few sentences, go back to email, which will appear more professional. If it’s something that requires that much copy, then perhaps an email would be more appropriate.

Because of the implied urgency, again you should respond promptly. If you can’t respond promptly, at least respond with an “I’m in the middle of something, will get back to you shortly.”

Sometimes the auto correct on my phone can drive us crazy. Take the time to make sure your phone hasn’t “corrected” something and completely altered your meaning. We could have an entire column on texting bloopers that have created embarrassing business situations.

And, even though texting is more “informal” than email, you should still be professional, courteous, and correct in all business situations.

Are your emails and texts business-ready? They can make the difference between whether you’re employable or passed over.