Working WildCat: Rules for writing professional emails


Ariel Hernandez

In a world of texts, tweets and other various forms of fragmented communication, we often forget how to contact someone using a full sentence.


If you’re trying to draft a professional email and are unsure about the proper do’s and don’ts, here are five rules on professional email etiquette:


1.When in doubt, write it out

There is a time for “LOL” and “OMG,” but it isn’t when you are writing a professional email. You should always use complete sentences, proper grammar, punctuation and spelling.

2.Proofread, proofread, proofread

You may think you’re too busy to spend the extra 30 seconds proofreading your email but the person on the receiving end doesn’t feel the same way. In my previous job as a staffing coordinator I was confused countless times by emails someone didn’t take the time to proofread. Don’t let a spelling error taint your first contact with a potential employer.

3.Don’t write a novel

If you’re trying to write a professional email it should be as brief as possible. If you’re trying to contact a recruiter by email as your method of following up, keep in mind that you’re probably not the only one.

As students flood the inboxes of recruiters, reading each email becomes a daunting task. If you send a big chunk of text, the recruiter may just skim over it, or worse, not read it at all. A rule of thumb is to concentrate on one thought per email. A few sentences should do the trick.



4.Indicate content and purpose in the subject line

“Hey! It’s Sarah” doesn’t indicate what an email is about and it looks more like spam than a professional email. Instead, write “Job Fair Follow Up- Sarah Brown.” This approach will allow the person to know what the email is about before they even open it.

If you are cold-emailing a person about a job, state the job title and your name. For example, “Human Resource Applicant- Sarah Brown.” If someone referred you then you can write “Referred by Ryan Smith.”

5.Allow for other forms of contact

You need to end the email with an alternative way to contact you other than email. Just because you like communicating by email doesn’t mean the person on the other end does.



It’s important to take the extra time and effort to present yourself professionally. You spend hours perfecting your resume and picking out the right suit for the interview. Why not spend a few more minutes crafting a better email?

Ariel Hernandez can be reached at [email protected] or @Aj7uriel on Twitter.