Get versed in ‘netiquette’

Nancy Dudak

No one would dispute the importance of email for keeping touch with friends and family, but it is also important in managing a job search. You may be using email to communicate with a potential employer or networking with a Villanova alumnus. Because impressions are so important in these processes, following these simple guidelines will ensure a professional presentation.

Use a professional email name – “[email protected]” or “[email protected]” might be endearing and easy for your friends to remember, but they make an unfavorable impression on professionals. These individuals might think that you don’t know any better, or that you don’t care what they think of you.

Do not use the Return Receipt Request for every email you send because you like knowing when someone opens your message. The recipient should have the privacy to determine when/if they want to reply.

Always check your spelling and proofread for errors. According to a great HTML Writing guide, “Poor writing is equivalent to someone speaking with spinach stuck between their teeth. Listeners and readers concentrate on the spinach; not what is being said.” You can find this guide at

Capitalize and use appropriate punctuation. You want your emails to be readable and typed in complete sentences, proper formatting is crucial to building credibility. This will also be a strong indication of your education and professionalism.

To format messages with fancy fonts or colors is asking for trouble. There are still e-mail clients who can not handle messages in these formats. The message will come in as gibberish or, worse, crash the computer. Abbreviation usage is discouraged in business correspondence. If you wouldn’t abbreviate it in snail mail, don’t abbreviate it in e-mail.

On the topic of salutations – each situation will need to be evaluated on its own, but use the following as a guide: If you normally address a person using Mr., Ms., etc., then that’s the way to initially address them in e-mail. If you normally call them by their first name then use their name in a formal business salutation.

Be patient when waiting for a response. Too many users assume that the minute someone receives an e-mail it, the person will read it. This is not necessarily so. The reader may have other priorities for their schedule. Remember, e-mail is not designed for immediacy (that’s why you have a telephone). It’s designed for convenience.

You may be sending resumes, letters, and other documents as part of the application process or simply to network. The best advice is to follow the directions of the recipient. Microsoft Word documents work best for mailing to individuals. When applying to companies or submitting through a website, follow the directions (cut and paste, attach documents, convert to PDF format.) Get some help with these if you are not clear on how to proceed. Candidates are often eliminated because they do not follow applications directions. Don’t be one of those!

With a little care, email can be a wonderful technology to manage all of the aspects of your job search! Good luck. For more information, go to