How to write a good email

Whether you want to hit the ground running when you start that fantastic new startup job (sourced through Work in Startups of course). Or just want to recap the basics, this one if for you!

In our fantastic startup learning and development programme, we have been discussing how to nail the basics. This week: email! We thought it would be a great thing to share with our lovely blog-readers, as email communication is still at the heart of the way we communicate. 

Here’s how to make sure the structure and content of your email is perfect:

  • First, is email the best communication? Would it be better to have a quick chat or meeting? Could it be pinged over via your preferred messaging service? More often than not, an email is an unobtrusive way of getting on someone’s to-do list, but if something’s more urgent or quick then do consider your options.
  • Subject line – always include a clear but brief subject header in your email so the recipient can prioritise. Don’t be afraid to hit them with a ‘high priority’ flag where appropriate! 
  • Call to action – starting off with a “call to action” (who needs to do what and when) it really helps to cut to the chase. This is particularly helpful when lots of people are cc’d in!
    • If you work in a UK startup you’re likely to be very busy, so help your colleague out by keeping it punchy! You can always say “see more detail below” and then include below your sign-off if helpful!
    • This isn’t an invitation to link in everyone at the company! Only send the email to relevant individuals as you can always forward an email later.
  • The body – keep it concise and relevant. This is not the time for waffle and sharing your life story. General rule of thumb: don’t go over 200 words and ask yourself, “if I read this on a phone, would I have to scroll?”
  • Sometime you have to expand, we recommend making use of links and attaching documents. We love a bullet point… as you can see… make use of them in your emails!
  • Tone – we recommend adapting to suit the audience (but always be polite). You can, of course, be a bit less formal with a colleague that you know well!
    • Remember your salutations, not to get all GCSE English on you but it does matter in a formal context. If you need to brush-up, or perhaps English is not your mother tongue, this is a comprehensive guide to salutation.  This is also quite helpful when choosing how to end an email.
  • Requests – if you need something from your recipient (i.e. a new hire, training, information or support for something) try to cover the following:
    • What you are asking for
    • Why you are asking for it
    • When you need it
    • What is the benefit
    • How much it will cost

We see lots of different email addresses at Work in Startups and we have some feedback: candidates we’re looking at you! Make sure your personal jobseeker email address is appropriate and contains a variation on your full name (you can retire that jazzy MSN handle you set up when you were 11!) That way you can start firing out the applications to all the amazing jobs on our site

We have lots of training at Work in Startups; from basics like email-writing to the bigger issues like mindfulness in the workplace. It is one of the many exciting perks we will be offering our new Sales and Operations Intern! Check out the vacancy if you like the sound of working with us!

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