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Email etiquette

It’s very easy these days to slip into informality and start using colloquial language when writing and structuring work emails. This is fine when emailing back and forth to your closest colleagues, however it’s important to use your email etiquette when emailing people outside the organisation or even the executive team of the company you work for.

International recruitment agency Robert Walters shares a few business email etiquette basics you should check and address before clicking on the send button.

Only when necessary

These days, we receive emails all day long. Try to avoid filling your colleagues' inbox with unnecessary messages, and consider whether your email is useful before you send it. Besides, some issues are also easier to resolve with a short phone call, or simply face-to-face. Are you replying to a group email? Check whether your reply is relevant to the entire group, or solely to the original sender. Only use "Reply all" if applicable.

Think about your timing

Now that home working has been implemented, we can basically send emails anytime, anywhere. However, it can be stressful to receive emails in the evening or on weekends.

Especially in a management position, you should be mindful not to email your team members outside working hours - after all, it can give the impression that overtime is expected.


Professional salutations

If you’re addressing an email to one person, you either start with ‘Dear Mr / Mrs’ followed by their last name, or with ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ followed by their first name. The preference depends on the corporate culture and your familiarity with the recipient. Make sure to spell their name correctly and don’t just assume they will appreciate you using an abbreviation, such as 'Val’ instead of 'Valerie’.

When emailing to a group, avoid using relaxed terms such as ‘Hey guys’ and ‘Hey everyone’. A safe option is to always start your emails using, ‘Morning everyone’ or ‘Afternoon all.’ It also goes without saying, to always sign-off your email politely and amiably, whether it’s ‘Kind regards’ or ‘Look forward to hearing from you’.

Using the high importance and read receipts function

Firstly, by overusing the high importance tag it will eventually lose its significance in the long-run; therefore it should only be used when you really need it. Also, be cautious when using this option, as emails can come across slightly aggressive, even when not intending to. 
Read receipts (RR's) shouldn't be used unless they’re a necessity. It could give the impression that you have a lack of trust in the receiver, and that you consider them capable of denying having received it, or not opening it. The only suggested time where it would be classed ‘appropriate,’ is when you’re unsure if you have the correct or a valid email address.


Close your email with a professional signature. This should best include your name, company and contact details. That way, recipients know how to get in touch with you if necessary.

Reply to your emails 

It’s common courtesy to always reply to emails and to respond in a timely manner. Not doing this shows a lack of care and leaves the person on the other end ambiguous as to whether you received their message properly. Replying doesn’t always seem necessary, but serves as good email etiquette, especially if this person is a potential influencer in your career progression, or key influencer in the business or industry.

Find out more?

Have a look at other tips and advice to advance your career. Looking for a new professional challenge? View our latest vacancies.

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