First Job Out of College? Avoid Looking Like an Amateur on Email

  wendybuck |

From high school to college, you experienced a period of transition. The same happens when you transition from college to the workforce. You’ll be in a new environment, which means the unspoken rules about how to act have changed. It’ll take time as you adjust to your organization’s culture and learn what’s considered appropriate behavior. Some things, however, are fairly standard in large enterprises, including how to effectively communicate with email.

When it comes to proper email etiquette, follow these tips to avoid any major faux pas:

Use Salutations

In written communications, a salutation is the greeting. It’s the beginning of the email, where you address the recipient with something like, “Dear X,” or “Hi X.” If you don’t know the recipient’s name, a simple “Hello,” will do.

Using a salutation even when you’ve been replying back-and-forth is a good habit to develop, especially if multiple recipients are on the thread. The reason is that a salutation is not just a nice thing to have; it’s a visual cue that signals where the message begins. This is particularly useful if the thread is long and the message is short. A salutation helps indicate where a new message begins.

Don’t Trust Autofill

Imagine you’re having a party. You start typing the email addresses of your friends in the “To” field.

Autofill combs through your contacts and tries to guess who it is. You assume it always guesses right, so you hit send. And then the RSVPs roll in and you discover that you actually sent the invite to someone you didn’t want to come. Now you have to re-send the invite to the original person and disinvite the person who accidentally received it.

Imagine how awkward that is and multiply it by 100. If you send a sensitive or confidential email to someone outside your organization, you could be fired. So never trust autofill to guess the correct address. Always double-check before you hit ‘send,’ or turn off the setting and type out the addresses yourself.

Reply All to a Minimum

Just because you receive an email with multiple people copied on it does not mean all of them need your reply. When you compose your response, ask yourself who really needs to hear what you’re going to say? In most cases, the easiest thing is to simply reply to the sender. Let the person forward your response to the other recipients if it’s necessary.

There will be times you receive emails that don’t require a formal response, but you want to confirm to the sender that you received it by writing “Thanks,” or “Got it.” That’s okay, but you don’t ever need to Reply All in those scenarios.

Having said that, the expectations may be different at your particular workplace. Some supervisors want to be copied on everything. The best thing you can do is ask ahead of time.

Know When to Pick Up the Phone

Email is supposed to expedite communication. If you notice that a conversation is going back-and-forth on email for more than three or four replies, it becomes more efficient to have a phone call or meeting to iron out the issues.

Email is also useful for documenting communications. That means it’s not a great idea to put something in an email that shouldn’t be documented. In other words, treat email like any other form of electronic media. Assume that once you hit ‘send,’ it will exist forever and eventually will be seen by others outside the intended audience. For instance, old emails can surface during the discovery process if your organization faces a lawsuit. Avoid writing sensitive, embarrassing or compromising content in your work emails.

Preparing for Your First Job

What if you could get a crash course in the unspoken rules of workforce culture before you start your first job? Part of Revature’s commitment to recruiting and training emerging talent is to do just that. We pay recruits to go through an intensive and customized 12-week program, where they prepare for careers in technology.

During the course, you learn coding and programming skills, along with instruction on how to make the transition from college to a professional career. By the end of the training program, you’ll have a feel for the real-world, enterprise-level environment in which software developers work. On top of that, we’ll place you in a job with one of our many clients.

Learn more about joining our team.

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