The fact that you are a Ticket-to-Work candidate does not change the rules about writing professional
emails. The rules for writing professional emails are standard across all professionals in the job market.
The key is to write emails that are respectful and not too “familiar” with the recipient. Usually, you will
not use the same tone, vocabulary and sentence structure when you write a professional email that you
do when you write emails to your friends and family.
Professional emails require more structure and formality. This shows that you not only respect the
context of the communication, but that you also respect the recipient, and yourself.
1. Start with your Email address.
The domain name of your email matters. Apparently, a “gmail.com” address is not considered to be
“professional” enough for certain professional scenarios such as applying for a job. Neither is a
“yahoo.com” domain. There are other domain names that would also pose problems, of course. Suppose
you have a website that you set up called www.horseshit.com. You may think this is the funniest domain
name ever. But while you wait for it to take off, you begin to job hunt. In your cover letter you talk about
being an entrepreneur who just launched a website called horseshit.com. You even put this on your
resume. Your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. What do you think? Is this sounding
particularly professional to you? Do you think you will get a call from the company inviting you in for an
But it is even more nuanced than that because many experts will tell you that even a Yahoo or Gmail
account is not professional enough for certain types of emails.
So, one of the first rules of thumb when sending a professional email is that you should use an address
with a professional sounding domain name, and it should not be Gmail or yahoo. Whether this rule is
standard across all domains is an open question, but the conventional wisdom seems to be that if you
want to appear “professional”—especially when you are job hunting—then you should use an email
address from a domain other than Yahoo or Gmail, or some other domain that makes you sound
2. Be sure to include a date at the top
A professional email should be dated. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they write
professional emails is they don’t include a date. This is an easy mistake to make because the date will
appear in the email itself. Still, you should date your email the way you would date a letter. It just looks
3. Include your address, phone number and email at the top
It is more professional to write your address and contact details at the top of your email, just the same as
you would include this information in a letter. Again, the fact that you may be a Ticket-to-work candidate does not change anything where this rule is concerned. This rule is especially applicable if your email concerns a job interview. There are, of course, other contexts when you would send a professional email to someone you already know, such as your boss. In this case, it may not be necessary to put your details at the top of the mail. You do have to make judgment calls with the general rules because there are professional emails, and then there are “professional” emails.
4. Put the objective of your email in the “Re” line
Always include a “re” line that details the objective of your letter in a short phrase or sentence. This helps
the reader to have a sense of clarity before they even start reading. This reduces time, and in some cases,
it even reduces confusion. Also, if the receiver (or even you) wants to search the email later, it is a lot
easier to find it if it has a “re” line.
5. In the body of your email, try to have a minimum of 3 paragraphs and a maximum of 6 paragraphs
A professional email requires a solid body to execute your message with optimal professionalism. But you
don’t want it to be too short or too long. Like anything else, a short simple written correspondence is
easier to digest than a long and convoluted one. “Keep it short and simple” is a rule of thumb. But
whether you will be able to make your point in three paragraphs or six paragraphs is a function of the
situation at hand. Context matters. It helps to use transitional words between the paragraphs and
sequence words as well—especially if the paragraphs are very long and the issue if very complex.
6. Use salutations that are respectful and not too familiar
It is better to use respectful salutations when writing professional emails. For example, do use “Dear”
rather than “Hi” in starting your professional email. The latter is way too familiar and shows a lack of
distance and respect which, consequently, sounds unprofessional. You can also start a professional emails
with a simple “Good morning”.
7. Close your email in a respectful manner
Close your email with a professional closing such as “Respectfully yours” or “Sincerely yours.” Do
Do not say things like “take care” or “see you later” in your closing. These expressions are very familiar
and will make you seem unprofessional. Remember that with professional emails you want to keep a
certain distance from the recipient. It is not the same thing as talking to a friend or family member.
8. Send your email at appropriate times (not in the middle of the night or too early in the morning)
Meghan Markle famously got called out for sending emails to her staff very early in the morning. She
probably didn’t mean to be unprofessional or pushy, but she was lambasted by the British press and
members of her staff for this. It’s true that the rules are a bit different for bosses than they are for the
rest of us. Bosses have to be especially careful about when they send emails. Even if you are not the boss,
the time you send an email can matter. For example, if you are job hunting and you send your email at
3:00 in the morning, it may come off as desperate to a prospective employer. So, you have to judge the
timing of your emails, depending on the situation.