Career Advice

These 5 Email Mistakes Can Kill Your Career

In an age of social media, where Snapchat and Instagram are all the rage, it can quickly appear as if the email is outdated and not really needed. But not so fast! What do the statistics say?

According to a Technalysis Research survey of 1,001 working US adults, email is still the most used means of communication in the workplace. According to the study, 75 percent of communications with co-workers take place via “old school” methods of communication such as email, phone, and text while 78 of workplace communications with outside contact takes please via email, phone, and text.

Email can make or break your career, and it is crucial to avoid making the following email mistakes:

1. Not Sending a Thank You Email After a Job Interview: One of the most dangerous email mistakes you can make that can negatively affect your career has to do with the early stages of your career. Specifically, it is the mistake of not sending a thank you email to your interviewer after a successful job interview. In fact, some hiring decision makers would flat out filter out a candidate for not sending a thank you note.

According to a research study by Accountemps, a Robert Half company, 80 percent of HR managers say that after-interview thank you messages from interview candidates are helpful when reviewing candidates, and 94 percent of these HR managers prefer to receive the thank you messages through email. Yet, just 24 percent of job applicants send a thank you note.

Not only will sending a thank you email after a job interview help you stand out and increase your chances of landing the job, but not sending it could actually kill your job prospects.

2. Failing to Send a Follow-Up Email After a Job Application: According to research from Glassdoor, the average job opening will attract 250 applications from job-seeking candidates, around four to six of the candidates will be called for an interview, and just one will be hired. Despite this overwhelming odds against their application, a significant 37 percent of job seekers do not follow up after submitting their job application.

Most recruiters don’t have the time to go through 250 applications and will give preference to applications that stand out; one of the most effective ways to stand out and be noticed is by properly following up via email. In fact, a Robert Half study found that 100 percent of Canadian hiring managers encourage job candidates to follow up on their application.

Some tips to give you an edge:

  • Keep the email short and simple.
  • Make sure your subject line is clear and communicates why you are following up.
  • Explain why you are the perfect fit for the specific position in that organization.
  • Follow up within two weeks of your application — according to the Robert Half study earlier cited, 62 percent of hiring managers expect candidates to follow up within two weeks of submitting an application.

3. Gossiping About a Superior or a Co-Worker in Your Email: Ranking high on the list of email mistakes that can kill your career is the mistake of gossiping about a fellow worker or a superior in your email. This is based on a national survey by staffing agency The Creative Group that surveyed 250 executives randomly selected from some of the world’s biggest companies. According to the survey, gossiping about a superior or co-worker will almost always result in a termination.

In a particular instance, a receptionist sent a “gossipy and catty email about another employee to the wrong person” and she paid with her job. In another instance, someone made a “nasty comment about a supervisor” in an email. The email was then sent to the supervisor by mistake, leading to the dismissal of the person who wrote the email.

While it might seem fun and innocuous at first, avoid gossiping about any of your co-worker or supervisor by email. The email could get forwarded to them accidentally, or intentionally, and can cost you your job.

4, Bad Email Grammar: While you might not be a writer or work at a writing-related job, it is important to realize that bad email grammar can cost you your job. Several CEOs have gone on record to state that they won’t hire people who use poor grammar: this includes the CEO of iFixit who once published an HBR opinion piece on why he won’t hire people who use poor grammar and a piece from founder of Candid Culture, Shari Harley, who explained that she had to pass on a candidate due to poor grammar usage.

While bad email grammar could make it difficult for you to get hired, it could also result in you getting fired from your existing job. Just ask New Zealand accountant Vicki Walker who was fired from her job due to bad email grammar, or ask Liz who almost got fired because her email indicating that she “re-sent” (as in, sent again!) an email from her superior was misunderstood to mean that she resent (as in, hate!) the email.

Good email grammar speaks volumes about you; that you’re patient and focused, and that you most importantly care about how you are perceived and as a result put good effort into it… traits any employer will value.

5. Violating Company Email Rules: Most organizations have clear rules about what employees can and can’t do with company email address. For some, it is that you musn’t access company email on devices outside of the corporate network. For others, it is that you must never use company email for personal purposes. For political office holders, knowledge of violating email rules has always resulted in scandals, possible dismissals, and political loss. It isn’t much different in the corporate world.

Your organization most certainly has email rules — things you can and can’t do with the company email. It is important to familiarize yourself with these rules and avoid violating them.

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