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Tuesday (2-4-14): Career Development

posted Feb 4, 2014, 4:44 AM by Micah Mobley

Believe it or not, but there will probably me plenty of times when you'll need or want to write an email.  It might be to a college professor, a recruiter, a boss, a potential reference writer, or a potential employer. Since it is easy to use and accessible to nearly everybody, email is the first choice for many forms of communication in the professional world.


Communication through email offers some advantages.  First, it can give you a chance to see your words and really make sure that you are saying exactly what you mean.   This can remove quick, knee-jerk, and sometimes emotional reactions from the equation.  

Second, it is quite possible that the person you are wanting to contact might have some things on their plate.  Dropping everything at the exact moment you call, just to have a chance to speak with one of the 24 teenagers who turned in an application for this entry level position, may not be a realistic expectation.  An email alerts them of your interest, but will allow them to get back to you at a time when they are more likely to be able to actually talk to you.

Email also gives you the chance to clarify what they are telling you. If they are trying to hurry and give you information so they can get back to their work at hand, you might be left trying to scribble down notes, directions, and phone numbers.  Imagine how bad it would be if they gave you a wrong time (said 2:30, but meant to say 12:30, so you show up for an interview two hours late, after they have already given the job to someone who was there at 1:00.  “That’s not fair,” you say?  Tough luck.  These things can happen, and email can give you the chance to respond to them immediately, confirming the info, and giving them a chance to confirm without being rushed.


The first rule of email etiquette is:

1). Make sure that email is appropriate for the occasion.

Some people simply prefer official letters that arrive in the mailbox, and they may not feel that email is an appropriate way to do business - especially when they receive unsolicited emails from members of a younger generation.


It is up to you to figure out whether your professor, clergyman, teacher, future gymnastic coach, or potential mentor wants to be contacted via email, text, phone call, etc. One good way to find out is to see if this person has a web site with an email account attached. If that fails, make a simple phone call and ask.


2). Be mindful of your email address!

This is a mistake that so many teens make - and they don’t have a clue about its potential impact! Does your email name look something like or And to whom are you sending this?

It’s fine to use that address when writing your friends. If you want to conduct business by email, simply create a new address.


3). Do not use texting language!

no u didnt rite ur tchr like this. U r asking fr trubl. And DON’T USE ALL CAPS.


4) Provide a reasonable “Subject”. 

You would not believe how many emails are caught in spam filters and other email filtering programs.  Many filters will block suspicious language, but many will just as easily block emails with no subject.  The subject in a professional email should be more than you might text a friend (“hey, what’s up?”).  Let’s say you wanted to follow up with a business after an interview.  (REALLY good idea, by the way!)  But what if they get an email from someone they don’t know, and has no subject, or a subject like, “Hey”?  (Not a good idea, by the way!)  It should be something that gives the recipient a glimpse as to what the email is about.


5). Use letter format.

Most email accounts give you formatting options. Go ahead and format your letter using a proper greeting, paragraphs, bullets, closings, or other features that give your letter a professional look. This shows that you are serious, mature, and savvy.


6.) Be respectful.

Many of us tend to get a little too familiar or get a little too comfortable in emails, and this may cause us to make costly assumptions. For example, you should always use an appropriate title when addressing a professional, even if that person signs his correspondence with his/her first name. If in doubt, use a title.

 If you are writing to a college professor and you don’t know whether the person is a Ph.D., use "Dear Professor."

If you don’t know the gender of the person you are writing, you could use the first and last name, like "Dear Jo Baker," or you could use the role of the person as your title, like "Dear Search Committee Chair." If it is possible, you could also make a phone call to the department or office and ask how to address the person you’re writing.

 When in doubt, be formal in your address. It may seem stuffy, but it won’t offend anybody! When influential people are the laid-back types and they want you to relax, they tell you so.



Your assignment today is to do the following.

 Open your school email and write a professional email, addressed to myself (  You should include a carbon copy of the email to Mrs. Gillenwater ( (Her email address will go in the line titled “CC”)

 The bulk of the content will be an explanation of your understanding of this article.  You should explain each of the three reasons given, as to why email might be a good form of professional communication.  There should be at least one sentence explaining why you agree or disagree with each one

You should do the same for the six suggestions.  Name the suggestion and explain the positive that might come from following it.  

 Be sure that the email follows the guidelines laid out in this article.

 Before you send it to us, print a copy of the email (including all your answers) and put it in your binder for documentation of today's CD lesson.  

Good luck,

 Mr. Mobley