We are all inundated with emails almost constantly. The constant demand in your inbox can be overwhelming, especially if you happen to be in the midst of a job search or career change. Juggling projects, inquiries and requests, pitches, responses, and more is the norm. And as such, we have to have the capacity to understand that everyone else is struggling similarly. So it would be best to be cognizant of that fact when reaching out to others.
Not every email gets read thoroughly, many probably don’t even get opened. To receive a response — and fast — we’ve structured the simplest formula to get someone to respond to your email ASAP.
Start with the headline
Your headline can move mountains for you. Many people — especially hiring managers — don’t have a crazy good handle on their inbox, so the headline could be the determining factor on if your email even gets opened or read. If your email is being sent in relation to a job search, you will want to follow a few key headline tips to increase your chances of consideration. For your email to be considered with any urgency,
Choose the perfect greeting
We’ve come a long way since “To Whom It May Concern” was appropriate as a greeting in any type of correspondence. With the internet on our side, we often know recruiting team identifiers, manager names, and other information that could greatly affect the greeting. If you are already slightly acquainted with the person, your greeting may differ quite a bit from if you are sending a cold email. Either way, you will want to make sure to nail the greeting, as it will set the tone for the favor you are about to ask or demands you may make.
In the case of the cold email, or writing to someone you hardly know or have never met, we found that it’s most appropriate to simply address them by name. This indicates that you took the time to find out the name of the person you are addressing. It also brings a level of comfort and awareness to the interaction, as hearing or reading one’s own name is known to activate certain areas of the brain. (In fact, it is often suggested to use their name multiple times in lengthier correspondence.)
Throw in a couple of personal items at the top
Whether you personally know the receiver of your email or not, it is very nice for them to feel like you are familiar with – or at least aware of – their body of work or the work their company does. Mentioning a client of theirs whose branding you admire, the last award the company won and posted about online, or admiring an event they put on are all appropriate options, as they are public domain.
If you have networked with this contact before, it could be appropriate to slide in more intimate (and consensually shared) items, like asking them about their family or recent vacation they told you about. Making it so that the email has a social aspect to it can often make the ask feel less overwhelming, and could encourage them to respond to you faster.
Keep it concise
I learned one of the hardest lessons of my career early on while interning at a music management company. While as a writer, I liked to write humorous, lengthy emails, I realized quickly that many people don’t have the time or capacity to enjoy the banter the way that I do.
My personability got me in big trouble in correspondence with one of the managers when they dropped the ball on something because they chose not to read the entire email. It took me years to understand why the reaction was so negative, but the mistake was clear very quickly and remedied immediately. (At least in all email exchanges.)
At the end of the day, a novel is going to be more of a time commitment for people than a 5-10 line email that gets to the basics quickly. If you need a quick response, don’t wax poetic. If people want to read a book, they’ll read something they chose in their own time. Short emails written with simple verbiage get the highest response rate. Just make sure to be kind, aware of their time, and grateful.
Grammar is king
It isn’t always the case, because we all know plenty of professionals who pay no attention to it, but grammar is always key for me in work emails. Even in social emails, I tend to cringe when my eyes pass over something, even if I know it was autocorrected at no fault of the writer. Glancing over the email before you send it is another form of care. It shows that you took the time to make sure you were asking your favor or contributing your thoughts in a conscious and decisive way.
The good news is, there are built-in functions in most email hosting platforms that will autocorrect or spellcheck your items for you. And for those of you who want even more support in editing your material before sending it out into the ether, internet extensions and plugins like Grammarly exist to help you do the heavy lifting.
To keep your email skills up to par, try sending these 7 emails each week. Head to The Ladders for additional job opportunities and email tips.