Received a Question: “Met someone who asked me to send him my
resume so he could give it to people he knows… Should I include
a cover letter, or does the email serve that purpose?“
As we all realize and career advisers have mentioned, so much more
is done through emails now. However, it might not serve you to
send the resume or the cover letter within the email itself.
So much communication is conducted on smartphones and
tablets resulting in loss of formatting and it is challenging to
read page long documents on smaller devices.
Please consider sending a shorter email and add one attachment
that contains your cover letter, resume, list of references, list of
papers, presentations and patents and other public relations
This brings up the topic of email etiquette for professionals.
Cheryl Tan wrote a piece in WSJ “Mind your Email Manners“
which elaborates on a few items. Here we would like to have
you think about creating professional email “habit stack.“
Tan recommends to compose ‘formal’ emails by starting with a
salutation, an up front greeting and a formal structure and
appropriate wording, punctuation and content.
Before that consider the reader first and compose a clear subject
line that fits the content. Often times, bullet points can make it
easier to read with phrases, rather than full sentences. But avoid
emoticons and “text-speak”.
Email Habit Stack
1. Know when to send an email. Send when required and expected.
Sending email creates more email (and we all receive more than enough
as it is.)
1.a. If a response is expected or required, indicate you will reply
within a certain period. But let the sender know you have received it.
1.b. If it is important, ask– is email the best medium?
1.c. Avoid debating complex or sensitive matters via email. Too much
communication is missed in textual formats.
1.d. Let the addressee line guide you about replies. If you are a
recipient, acknowledge receipt. It could even be Thank you or Done.
2. Don’t check email first think in the morning, or last thing at night.
Doing this can lead to burnout. What you do first thing in the morning
can set up your whole day.
3. Set an agenda for each day with limited email check times.
4. Keep your subject line current over a long thread. (Gmail does not
do this. Makes it hard to distinguish.)
5. Conclusions and bottom lines should be expressed first. Emails are
read quickly. Give additional context later.
6. Express your thoughts and feelings politely and with an upbeat
manner as humor and sarcasm can easily be misinterpreted.
7. Include attachments. But be wary of trying to send too many. Send
multiple messages and make it explicit about what you are doing.
8. Review your document for spelling, composition, brevity, economy
of words and consider the “5 second rule.” You should be able to find what
you seek on a screen in 5 seconds.
9. Be formal when you are not familiar with the organization mores.
Ask, if you are not certain about acceptable practices.
There is no right or wrong language. Context, convention and
circumstance are all!
CARDINAL RULES OF EMAIL
- if you can not say something face to face, don’t do it online
- it is permanent and not private
- be careful about reply all and bcc:
- avoid all lower case and all capitals
- shorter paragraphs (think about the receiver)
- copyright and plagiarism issues apply