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Try these seven ways to make a good first impression every time you send an email.

With the growing use of email to apply for jobs, internships and other opportunities, email messaging skills have become more important than ever before. From grammar to greetings, remember these basic rules every time you hit ‘send’.

1. Mind your language!

“Grammar rules apply to emails,” says Ulrike Hill, business facilitator and writer at Writer’s Write, which offers practical courses in business and creative writing. “Capital letters should be used at the beginning of sentences and are used for proper nouns.” She adds: “Using capital letters throughout an email is the same as showing you’re angry.” The same applies to using only lowercase letters in an email, which may send the message that you’re lazy or unprofessional.

2. Spell check!

There’s no excuse for sending sloppy emails! MS Outlook, Windows Live Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo all have spell check features to check your messages – so take the time to figure out how these work. If you pick up typos or spelling errors after you’ve sent an email, and you’re applying for a job or the recipient is an important person, “resend the email without errors and in the subject line state that the previous email should be ignored,” advises Hill. She adds that it’s a good idea to get into the habit of always reading through emails before you send them: “There are errors that may creep in that are not picked up by the spell-checker, such as ‘there/their’.”

3. Laws of attachment

Sent an email but forgot that all-important attachment like your cover letter or CV? Now what? “Honesty is the best policy,” says Hill. “Emails are a common form of communication and to a large extent have replaced telephonic conversation. Send another email with the attachment. In the body of the email explain that you had forgotten to send the attachment.” As for sending very large attachments, rather link to downloadable documents or use free services such as or Large files (over 5 MB) are more likely to get blocked or could slow down your recipient’s email – not a good way to start your relationship with them.

4. All in a name!

If you’re sending attachments such as CVs and cover letters, “save your document in .pdf format before sending the email,” recommends Hill. Word documents can result in formatting issues if opened on a different system to the one used to create the document.

Also read job advertisements carefully as they may stipulate in which format CVs etc. should be sent. If instructions are not given and you’re still not sure – send both a pdf and Word document so the recipient has both options to choose from. And don’t forget to name your documents correctly. Put your name on CV and cover letter attachments as employers and recruiters may be sifting through hundreds of attachments simply labelled ‘CV’.

5. DNT Abbrvt!

Emails may be a more informal mode of communication, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with writing ‘dis’ or ‘dat’, and signing off ‘c u l8tr’. Slang, abbreviations and so-called SMS speak don’t belong in emails – especially not in professional messages sent to recruiters or potential employers. Also refrain from putting in cute smiley faces at the end of your e-mail : )

6. Name’s no game!

Pick your e-mail address carefully. Applying for a job with aliases such as sweetthang or sexychick look unprofessional, or worse yet, could land you in the recipient’s spam folder.

7. Addressing job search mails

Read job advertisements carefully as they will often note the name of the person to whom you should address your application. Take the time to check for a name and always start your mail with Dear Mr. or Ms. (rather than ‘hey’ or ‘hi’). Also stay away from starting your email with “I’m not sure if you’re the right person, but…”. Do some research, call the organization and ask who is person responsible for recruitment to show you have put in some time and effort.

If you still cannot locate a contact name, address your email to Dear Sir/Madam or the Recruitment Officer. Next step? Briefly introduce yourself, say where you found out about the job opening (the name of a website, newspaper, etc.) and put the job you are applying for (and reference number if one is supplied) in the subject line of your email. Even if you are attaching a cover letter to your email that outlines who you are and why you’re applying for the position never leave the body of an email empty or blank – this will not impress the recruitment agent or employer and may create the impression you are lazy or unprofessional.

by Esther Etkin
For more info about Writer’s Write, visit

‘Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.’ – Jim Rohn


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