I find that I spend way too much time dealing with the sheer volume of emails in my inbox… and I know I’m not alone in this. I often find myself sifting through (no subject) emails that contain important information, or emails with 500 word blocks of text with no clear focus, for example. Sound familiar?
In a text message world, our collective outlook on email has become increasingly casual. But this can have real implications in a professional setting, in terms of the practical dissemination of information, productivity, and perception. To help you simplify your life in 2015, here are 4 quick and easy reminders to help you write (and receive) more professional emails.
1. Use Effective Subject Lines
Have you received an email with any of the following subject lines?
RE: RE: FW: RE: That thing
You’re welcome….I guess?
And how can I help you?….
Of course you have received emails with subject lines similar to above; we ALL have. It may be acceptable to “FW: FW: RE: FW: RE” information when it is personal, but not in a business setting. People are busy and they often do not have time to open up your email right away to get this gist of what you are saying. Not only are you conveying the message that you cannot be bothered to change a proper subject line, but you are actually running the risk that your important message may be overlooked.
To help with easy classification, I recommend producing emails with simple and effective subject lines. For example:
Resume – Jane Smith, Widget Designer
Signed Contract – ABC Company
Invoice Attached – For Work Completed at XYC Inc.
Further, when there is action required, it is perfectly acceptable to convey that in the subject line. For example:
Urgent – Meeting Cancelled for 2:00 PM today, 1/1/2015
Please Advise ASAP – Location for Phoenix Interview
By having an action requested or implied in the email, it will urge the reader to respond more quickly. However, be careful not to “cry wolf” if your action is not truly urgent.
2. Know When to Use To: Cc: and Bcc:
Many people misunderstand the use of the following when sending and receiving emails, and this can lead to confusion and unmet expectations:
To: When an email is sent “To” someone, there is a response and/or action requested.
Cc: When someone is “Cc’d” on an email, a response and/or action is optional.
Bcc: When someone is “Bcc’d” on an email, they are simply being kept “in the loop” and there is no response or action required.
3. Include all the Information
Carson Tate, Founder of Working Simply, an excellent productivity blog, offers the following 2 suggestions:
- If you cannot answer the following four (4) key questions in every single email that you send – who, why, what and how – you need to rework your email before you send it. This does NOT mean that you need to spend hours crafting each email that you send, however you should get into the habit of being able to get a simple message across that answers all of the above.
- Sometimes, there is not a need to say much more than the subject line, and this is where the “EOM” (End Of Message) acronym can be especially handy:
We are moving our training meeting to 3:00 PM Tuesday, 12/30 – EOM
Received the phone call back from the ABC Company; Jane Smith is happy with the outcome – EOM
“EOM” quickly and effectively tells the reader the key piece of information that is required, and that there is no need to read any further.
4. Organize your Inbox
Whether you use Outlook, Gmail or any other email system, you have the ability to create subfolders for your inbox. This will allow you to quickly scan an email, respond to it immediately, delete it, or file it away for future action. As a headhunter, my Outlook inbox would resemble something similar to this, though you can set yours up any way that you like:
- .NET Developers
- A++ Candidates
- ABC Company
The good news is these small changes to your email etiquette are easy to implement, make a significant difference, and you can start right now. Share them with your team or company, and put an end to your cluttered inbox.
I hope these tips help you become more productive in your everyday messaging. Here is to a wonderful 2015 from IQ PARTNERS!
IQ PARTNERS is an Executive Search & Recruitment firm with offices in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. We help companies hire better, hire less & retain more. We have teams of specialist recruiters in Financial Services & Insurance, Marketing Communications & Media, Emerging Tech & Telecom, Consumer Goods & Retail, B2B & Industrial, Technology, Accounting & Finance, HR & Operations, Energy, Mining & Engineering, Life Sciences, and Construction, Property & Real Estate. IQ PARTNERS has its head office in Toronto and operates internationally via Aravati Global Search Network. Click here to view current job openings and to register with us.