What is business email etiquette?
Business email etiquette is the professional manner in which you conduct yourself through your electronic communication. Usually, email etiquette includes adhering to practices like:
- Including professional salutations (greetings) and valedictions (farewells/closings)
- Using proper grammar, spelling and punctuation
- Keeping conversations work related
Some companies provide specific guidelines for email use to employees to ensure they’re representing the company appropriately online and to give employees specific rules to follow for email composition and response.
Why is business email etiquette important?
Email etiquette is very important, especially in a professional setting. Poorly written emails with grammatical errors can reflect negatively on the professionalism of both the sender and the company. Ensuring your employees know how to adhere to basic email etiquette and your company’s specific email guidelines can help you build positive relationships with external stakeholders. Human resources representatives and hiring managers often communicate with candidates via email, so take particular care to ensure your entire team is following business email etiquette.
List of email etiquette tips for recruiters and hiring managers when contacting candidates
Use these business email etiquette tips to help train your recruiters, hiring managers and other externally facing employees on email etiquette best practices:
Provide a signature
Always include a signature that provides your name and job title. It’s often advisable, especially on your first communication, to include other contact information like your phone number in case someone needs to call you by phone.
Know your tone
Make sure your tone matches your relationship with the recipient. For example, if you’re a hiring manager emailing with a prospective candidate for the first time, your tone will likely be more formal than it would be once the candidate becomes a part of the company. Avoid using “Hey” or “Cheers” in your business emails with new candidates, customers and clients.
Use tracking software
For those hiring managers who oversee a large number of recruits and potential employees, it may be worthwhile to invest in an email platform or software overlay that helps track the application and hiring process for candidates to ensure you don’t miss any emails.
Implement grammatical help
Use a browser plug-in to help you check your spelling and grammar. These programs automatically detect errors and point them out to you so you can correct any problems before sending the email.
Ensure you’re formatting your emails in a way that’s easy for the candidate to parse. Some emails, particularly those explaining application or onboarding processes, can get lengthy. Make sure you’re writing in paragraphs and consider using elements like bolding and italics to help break up the content of the email and make it easier to read.
Proofread your writing
Always proofread your emails before sending. You want to ensure your messaging is clear and accurate and that your writing is free of errors before sending. Check to make sure you’ve correctly spelled the candidate’s name.
Include a salutation and farewell
Always begin your emails with a formal salutation like, “Dear Ms. Jones,” rather than something less formal like “Hey.” Do the same at the end of the email, with a closing before your signature like “Sincerely” or “Thanks.” Even as your relationship with the candidate advances, it’s best to continue using formal salutations and farewells.
Some email platforms allow you to use images as backgrounds on your emails. It’s best to remove any background imagery from your emails to keep the focus on the content. Unnecessary and unrelated images can distract the candidate from the purpose of the email and seem unprofessional.
Give a useful subject
Ensure the subject line of your email is descriptive. Many people receive a substantial number of emails every day, so using a clear subject line that describes the content will help the candidate know what to expect when they open it and find the missive again later if needed.
Include a CTA
If you want a response from the candidate, provide a clear call to action (CTA) at the end of the email message so they know exactly what to do next. For example, if you’ve provided forms as attachments that you need the candidate to complete and return, in the last paragraph of the email, give step-by-step instructions for completing the task.
Keep your writing succinct. Avoid including flowery language or unnecessary details to the candidate. You want the candidate to get the point from your email quickly and easily without having to parse through paragraphs of unrelated information.
If you’re emailing a candidate to schedule an interview or come in for onboarding, provide multiple options if possible. Before the candidate officially begins working for the company, it’s considerate to work around their schedule as best you can.
Answer emails as soon as you can so they don’t pile up. While it’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll reply to emails seconds or minutes after receiving them (or afterhours or on weekends), try to respond to candidate questions or concerns within 24 hours. Do your best to at least scan incoming emails to help prioritize responses if you tend to receive lots of emails in a day, so you don’t miss anything vital.
Make sure you introduce yourself early in the email if it’s your first communication with the candidate. Letting the candidate know who you are, who you work for and why you’re emailing in the introductory paragraph of the email saves the candidate time.
What to avoid saying and doing in emails to candidates
Just as it’s important to adhere to certain practices and principles, it’s necessary to avoid some actions when writing business emails:
Discussing private matters
Keep business communications related to business. If you have a personal relationship with the candidate outside of your professional relationship, use a different platform to communicate about personal issues.
Using exclamation points
An occasional exclamation point, such as after congratulating a candidate on receiving the position, is fine, but avoid using too many exclamation points as they’re often seen as unprofessional.
Sharing confidential information
Keep confidential information confidential. Email, while relatively secure, is usually not the best way to share private or proprietary information.
Sending a single word
Even if you’re responding to a yes or no question from a candidate, you should include a salutation, answer their question in a complete sentence and close with a formal signoff.
Avoid using emojis, abbreviations or other colloquial verbiage whenever possible. Write in plain English and spell out all words.
Using unusual fonts
Stick to traditional fonts like Times New Roman and Arial. These are the easiest to read and least distracting from your message.
Business email etiquette demands attention to detail and commitment to professionalism. Ensure you and your hiring and recruiting team know how to write emails with proper business etiquette.