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Strategies for Writing Effective Emails

Do you ever feel like the emails that you send just disappear? The Radicati Group reports that over 205 billion emails per day were sent in the year of 2015. It is estimated that over one-third of the worldwide population will be using email by the end of 2019. Email is a common platform used by most businesses as well as consumers. Why is all of this information interesting to know? It may be challenging to grab a recruiter, company, or individual’s attention with communication through an email.

Wanting to get more replies from recruiters, companies, or classmates? Get to the point. Keep the language simple, but not simplistic. Speak in a positive fashion. Think about your subject line (shrink your subject line message). Ask a question or two.

If you as a student feel that you get bombarded with emails every day, think about a recruiter recruiting at only Ohio State with over 50 engineering students applying to the one open engineering position. Now think of that same recruiter going to 10 other schools with possibly the same amount of students applying to that one engineering position. That same recruiter is now the recruiter for marketing, communications, and human resources. That recruiter may have over 500 engineering students for the one engineering position not including the other three functions with open roles. It is important that you have proper email etiquette.

Get to the point.

People are busy. Emails that are able to provide a clear message and be scanned quickly are more likely to get a response. Think about the emails you receive. If you received an email that was less than 100 words or greater than 100 words, which email would you be more likely to read? The student at Radicati Group found that emails with 75 to 100 words were most likely to receive a response. That does not mean that you cannot have effective emails over 100 words, but only that emails with less were more likely to get a response.

Keep the language simple.

Use common language and properly format your emails. Clear spacing and bullet are recommended to make the email easier to scan. Think about the audience of the email. If you are emailing a professor about your research study, you may include more details about the area of expertise. However, if you’re emailing your career counselor, we probably do not need to know about every single scientific step you took to achieve your result.

Speak in a positive tone.

Read your email aloud. Double check your grammar and verbiage.

Think about your subject line.

Keep it informative, yet short. Think about sending an employer an email asking them a question after your interview. Which subject line would you prefer? “Following up from my interview” OR “Follow-Up Question: Engineering Intern Position” The second line provides a quick overview of what your questions will be about.

Ask a question.

Be direct in the questions you’re asking. Do not expect the recipient to understand that you are looking for more information.

OK: “I appreciated getting to know more about your company. I look forward to hearing back about the role.”

Better: “I appreciated getting to know more about your company. What date should I expect to hear back from you?”

For correspondence samples including declining offers, accepting offers, follow up emails, and extension requests, refer to page 16 in the ECS Student Handbook.

"The two words information and communication are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through."

- Sydney Harris


About the author

Lauren Verhoff

Lauren Verhoff is a Graduate Administrative Associate with Engineering Career Services.