Professional Email Salutations That Work (Plus 7 to Avoid)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated June 16, 2022 | Published October 7, 2019
Updated June 16, 2022
Published October 7, 2019
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach
Email is one of many communication tools to share and receive important information to do your job well. Crafting a professional email—from start to finish—can help you to clearly communicate with colleagues, clients and other professionals. Whether you’re sending an email to a prospective client or your cover letter to a potential employer, follow these tips and examples to learn how to craft an appropriate professional email salutation to open your email.
In this article, we'll discuss how to start and end a professional email, with tips, examples and salutations to avoid.
Professional Email Format
Best practices: Identify your goal, consider your audience, keep it concise, proofread your email, use proper etiquette and remember to follow up.
How to create a professional email salutation
The two most important aspects of writing a professional email salutation are tone and content. By including an appropriate salutation at the beginning of your email, you set the tone for the rest of the included subject matter. Including an appropriate closing to end your email can also leave your reader with a positive impression. Starting and ending your email professionally can help you communicate necessary information in a way that is easily received by the audience.
How to write an email salutation
Here are three simple steps you can take to prepare your next professional email:
1. Determine the nature of your relationship with the recipient
This is perhaps the most important question to ask. If you’ve never met the recipient, you should always use formal email salutations. If you have a friendly, personal relationship with the recipient, you can afford to use a more casual greeting and ending
2. Identify the recipient’s perspective or context
If the recipient doesn’t know who you are or why you’re writing, consider how the recipient would respond to your email. This goes hand-in-hand with taking the time to find the recipient’s name and any other pertinent information. Think about how you would react to certain email greetings and endings from various people and set your salutation accordingly.
3. Establish a goal or subject matter for the email
Because the email salutation sets the tone for the email, consider what you’re writing about when you write your salutation. If you’re writing a note to let a colleague or management know that the company lost an account, use a formal greeting and ending. If you’re sending a note about the birth of a child to your boss, you can use something more informal.
Ways to start an email
If you’re unsure how to select a professional email salutation greeting, you have many options. Some are more formal than others, so knowing and understanding your recipient is important. Here are some of the most common choices for proper salutations:
Starting your email with “Dear,” is always a good, professional option—especially if you know the name of the person you are addressing. Including their name is more personal and shows that you care about the business relationship. For a gender-neutral option, include their first or full name instead of using “Mr.,” “Miss.” or “Mrs.”
Another option is simply using their title and last name. Doing so is a sign of respect that demonstrates your attention to detail. Also, make sure to write out titles such as “Governor,” “Rabbi,” “Captain” or “Professor.”
"Hi, or Hello,"
“Hi” or “Hello” are less formal versions of “Dear.” Typically, you’d use “Hi” or “Hello” when you are addressing a department or sending an email without personal contact information. For example, if you have to send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, hello is an acceptable greeting.
In some situations, you may have formed a friendly relationship with a client or supplier. In this case, you can use “Hi” or “Hello” as your salutation. Make sure to also include their name in this salutation, as it’s a sign of respect and business appropriate. Examples would include “Hi Don” or “Hello Susan.”
Using “Greetings” as your email salutation lies somewhere on the spectrum between “Dear” and “Hi” or “Hello” in terms of formality. It’s still an acceptable email salutation but often implies an affable relationship more than a formal introduction. “Greetings” is often used as a way to stand out from the crowd if you’re cold pitching or cold emailing a potential client. If you have a limited relationship with the recipient, this is always a good option.
This situation is specific to when you are addressing a group of people. It is inclusive of everyone in the email and is more formal and appropriate than using gender-specific greetings like “Hey guys.”
Read more: 20 Ways To Start an Email
How to find the correct contact person
If you’re writing an email to a potential employer or a client for the first time, the more effort you put into finding the person’s name, the better your results. Fortunately, the internet has made it easier than ever to find this information, but you can also use other methods to search for the contact person if the internet doesn’t provide the results you need. Here are some tips for locating the correct contact and related information.
Most websites list the names of their employees, or at the least, the names of the decision-makers and upper management. You may not get their formal title, but a full name will help you craft the correct email salutation.
Professional networking sites are another good tool for finding the name of a contact person. Typically, you can find the people who work at a certain company. Then, sort through the titles of each person until you find the correct contact.
Use Twellow to search Twitter for company names or certain industries. You might find the right person or another contact who can help you with your search.
Scour Facebook groups for the company. Many firms have a Facebook page for their employees. Although these groups may have a closed membership, you can see if any Facebook friends are part of the group and send a private message to ask them for the contact person.
Calling the company directly may also help you find the right contact person. You’ll typically reach an administrative assistant or call center who can answer your questions or direct you to a person who can.
If you know someone who works at a company where you’re applying or a colleague who’s handled business matters with a client, ask them for the contact person. Even if they don’t know, they can often find the information by asking around at their office.
When you’re applying for a job or searching for ways to build a relationship with a client, taking these extra steps to find the contact person can improve your chances of employment or a strong business relationship. If you happen to go through another person to find contact information, remember that networking is a two-way road. Take the time to write a thank you or find ways to return the favor at a later time.
How to end an email
An email closing is the last thing your recipient reads in your email. How you end your email can leave a lasting impression on your audience and even be a motivating factor in how quickly they respond or take action. Here are the most common and appropriate ways to end your email professionally:
This professional closing is a favorite because it is appropriate in all situations. It lets the reader know that you sincerely appreciate the time that has gone into reading the email and any call-to-actions that you requested.
“Hope to talk soon,”
Using this closing reinforces that you want to have a follow-up conversation or meeting. This is a great sign-off to use for cover letters, informational interview requests and interview follow-up emails.
"Thank you for your time,"
This is another popular sign-off as it thanks the audience for their time spent reading the email. Professionals often have an inbox full of emails to read and respond to, so acknowledging that their attention is appreciated can leave the reader with a positive impression of you.
Here are more options for ending a professional email:
All the best,
Read more: How To End an Email (With Closing Examples)
Information to include in your closing
Ending your email entails including more information than beginning your email. See below for what other information you should include in your closing:
When ending a professional email it is best to use your full name. You may use just your first name if you know the person you’re writing to, or if the email is more casual in nature.
Including your contact information is essential, especially if you’re inquiring about a job position or hoping for the recipient of your email will contact you after reading. Typically, you’ll want to include your phone number, email address and possibly your mailing address depending on the type of email you’re writing.
Title and company
Including your title and company will be helpful for writing an email to anyone outside of your company.
Salutations to avoid in a professional email
Sometimes the best practice of creating a professional email salutation is knowing what greetings and endings to avoid. Don’t fall into the trap of using these salutations when a better option—such as the ones mentioned above—will do.
1. "To Whom It May Concern"
Using “To Whom It May Concern” was once an acceptable email or letter salutation. However, it has fallen out of favor in the business world. The reason it is no longer acceptable is that it shows you have not taken the time to find out the name of the recipient. Also, the person reading the email may not think it concerns them at all and promptly delete the email. If you’re not sure who you’re addressing, “Hi,” “Hello” or “Greetings” are far better options.
“Hey” is an informal salutation often used in interoffice correspondence. While this casual tone might work in emails between coworkers and colleagues, it’s not an appropriate device for addressing a client or employer. Avoid “Hey” whenever possible, even if you use the person’s name or title after it.
3. "Dear Sir or Madam"
“Dear Sir or Madam” is another outdated greeting that’s too stiff for a proper business email, even if it seems formal. Like “To Whom It May Concern,” “Dear Sir or Madam” also shows disdain for finding the recipient’s contact information.
4. "Good Evening, Afternoon or Morning"
Using “Good Evening,” “Good Afternoon” or “Good Morning” may seem like a formal tone, but it disregards when a person will actually read the email. This problem becomes exacerbated when you’re dealing with clients or potential employers in different time zones. If possible, avoid this greeting regardless of the situation.
5. Anything with an exclamation point
The use of exclamation points in casual or informal conversation has become rampant. Don’t let it sneak its way into your emails. Under no circumstances should you use an exclamation point in a professional email salutation, even if you’re excited about the information contained within the body of the email.
6. “Hey Guys”
Not only is this greeting too casual in nature for a professional email, it’s also gendered language that can come across as offensive to those who do not identify as male. “Gentlemen” and “Ladies” would also fall under the umbrella of gendered language you shouldn’t use. All of these fail to acknowledge the gender of the recipient(s) and could cause unintended offense or backlash. If you’re addressing a group try saying “Hey everyone,” or “Hi team,” instead.
7. "Dear (Job Title)"
Using “Dear Hiring Manager” or something similar is like using “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” Ultimately, it’s generic and can come across as impersonal to the reader.
By avoiding these email salutations, you can save yourself from embarrassment or offending another person while projecting a sense of professionalism.
Creating a professional email salutation may seem insignificant compared to the rest of an email, but without the right greeting and ending, your recipient may end up deleting the email before they read it. With your newfound knowledge of how to construct the proper salutation, you can ensure you address each person with a concise, correct and professional salutation that forges a strong business relationship.
Professional email salutation tips:
Avoid gendered language
Avoid exclamation points
Avoid casual language like "Hey,"
Avoid overly formal language like "Sir" or "Madam"
Avoid using "To Whom It May Concern"
Avoid using times of day, such as "Good morning" or "Good evening"
Avoid using "Dear [Job Title]” if possible
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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