Business Email Etiquette for Hiring Managers & Recruiters

Many companies conduct business online through email. It’s important for every member of your organization to understand the difference between emailing friends and family, emailing other internal colleagues and emailing external stakeholders, as each requires a different level of formality. Reviewing business email etiquette with all your employees is vital, but this is especially true for those who regularly represent the company, like recruiters and managers. Learn what business email etiquette is, understand why it’s important, review a list of email etiquette tips and see what to avoid when sending professional emails. 


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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. 

Related: Best Practices for Setting Up Business Email


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.  

Related: Referral Emails for Employees: A Quick Sample


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. 


Format correctly

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. 


Remove images

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. 


Be concise

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. 


Give options

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. 


Respond quickly

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. 


Identify yourself

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. 

Related: Introduction Emails to New Clients: Do’s and Don’ts


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. 


Including emojis

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.

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