How do your e-mail messages brand you? Writing poorly designed messages undermines the image you want to create as a professional. According to the latest GMAC recruiters’ survey, the candidate’s education will not make up for a deficiency in communication. The following five guidelines will make your email more powerful:

  1. A meaningful subject line. 
  2. An appropriate salutation. As with most business communication, the salutation is the first impression. Open your email with a greeting like Dear Dr. Jane Pirate, or Mr. or Ms. Pirate. Once you have exchanged emails with a person on a given subject, follow the protocol of the person responding. The more senior-level professional should set the level of formality, especially in the workplace.
  3. Professionalism. Be sure that your message is clearly expressed with attention to spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar using complete sentences to convey a professional image and ensure clarity. An email IN ALL CAPS SCREAMS at the reader while shortcuts, such as U 2 dude, brand you as unprofessional. Profanity or abusive language always destroys your credibility.
  4. Respond within a reasonable time frame. The time frame is always driven by the subject being discussed and each communicator’s expectations.
  5. Check using your signature as a bumper sticker. Every message is an argument about your skills. Don’t undermine the importance of other messages by bumper sticker advocacy in the signature. Businesses typically have protocols for how signatures are designed. For instance, ECU stipulates no quotations.