How many emails did you wake up with this morning in your inbox? On a good day, I have less than 50, and can typically delete many of these without a response. However, throughout the course of the week, I may send anywhere from 20-50 emails per day, which is about the average amount of emails sent every day by most people. However, this means the average corporate employee sends three to five emails per hour in addition to their other tasks and projects. Sending so many emails so quickly can lend to mistakes and errors, which can often land you (and your company) in hot water. Here are eight email mistakes to avoid if you don’t want to embarrass yourself — or worse — get fired:
CC the wrong person
Email is a great way to directly communicate with almost anyone. Many email programs allow you to simply start typing the name of the contact you wish to email and your email program will automatically complete the address. You can even choose from groups of contacts, selecting entire lists of people to email with just one click. But what happens when you’re in a rush to send an email and choose the wrong person or list to email? You may end up sending a romantic email to an ex-boyfriend (who happens to have the same first name as your new boyfriend) or perhaps send internal documents to a competitor instead of your business partners. A good rule of thumb is to always check who you are sending an email to before you send it, no matter how little time you have.
Use the wrong alternate email address
In addition to your professional email address, which is likely your corporate email address, you likely have a personal email address. If you use the same email program to manage both (or even more) email accounts, you’re walking a fine line of accidentally using one of these accounts when you should be sending email from the other. Usually, this is harmless — your client may not even notice, especially if your personal email address seems professional (such as your [email protected]). However, if you’re in the market for a new job, you’ll want to be especially careful not to send your cover letters and resumes from your work email address. Your boss may not be so tech-savvy, but if he suspects that your sudden bursts of doctor appointments and constant bouts of the flu are not legitimate, he may ask your IT team to take a look at your emails. Should he find the trail of your job hunt, you may be out of a job before you’re ready to quit. Be sure to always check from which email account you are sending if you insist on using one program, such as Mac’s Mail.app or Gmail, for personal and business purposes.
Use your work email to send personal email
On that note, if you only have access to your work email during the hours of 9-5, be sure not to use this address to send personal email — at least not email that you would mind your boss reading as well. Coordinating a lunch or happy hour with friends that doesn’t violate work policy is normal for employees to do via email, and before the advent of the Internet, was common via the telephone — as long as it didn’t evolve into long conversations that detracted from work itself. However, you may want to reconsider sending your spouse sappy (or even lewd) love notes, or other personal email to friends. Not only can this reveal behavior that could compromise your relationship with your managers, but the obvious time it takes away from your job could lead to losing your job. If you don’t have access to your personal email at work, consider saving your thoughts until you get home if you want to save your job, too.
Using Reply All
One of the most hated features of email is the Reply All function. This hatred is fueled from those who are on the receiving end of those who abuse this feature as a discussion list, and those who have accidentally use Reply All instead of just Reply To send a personal message to the sender instead of the entire group of recipients. Sometimes these responses can include a snarky response about someone else to whom the original message was sent, or a very personal thought about the topic that was not intended to be read by everyone else. If your response could impact your reputation — or even job — be sure you check to whom you are replying when responding to a group email.
Attaching the wrong document
If you’re on the hunt for a new job, attaching resumes and cover letters has undoubtedly become a part of your daily routine. However, by now you’ve likely realized that each of these documents are unique to the position to which you are applying; each cover letter is addressed to a specific recruiter, and often a resume is tailored to the job requirements of each position. Be sure to double and triple check that you have not only attached your documents, but also attached the correct documents pertaining to the email you are sending. Otherwise, you can kiss that dream job goodbye.
Attaching files with inappropriate file names
Speaking of attaching documents, it is important to attach documents with appropriate file names. For example, if you’re looking for a job, consider naming the file so that it includes your name, the type of document (such as resume or cover letter), and the job position. You don’t necessarily need to include the company, though if this helps you stay organized, it wont hurt. Naming files should help the recipient identify the file — not you. This is especially important when working in companies that have strict guidelines for how to name files. Be sure not skirt these rules for your benefit, and instead use folders to help organize the files that you otherwise can’t identify.
Not using spellcheck and proofreading your email
There is no reason to not use spellcheck when sending an email. Almost all email programs are built with a comprehensive tool that will check spelling, which can catch most obvious mistakes. However, as seen with sites like DamnYouAutoCorrect, even automation tools can “correct” your words incorrectly. To avoid an embarrassing error — albeit one spelled correctly — be sure you also proofread your emails and attachments before you send them. I personally like to print long emails and documents and go over them the “old-fashioned way.” Grammatical errors can be easy to miss on small computer screens.
Using an extremely long and self-promotional signature line
Have you ever received an email from a colleague or other professional with a signature line that’s twice as long as the email itself? Don’t be that guy. Your email signature simply needs to include your name and the best way to get in touch with you. If you have dozens of social networks, consider creating a splash page on About.me and including that single link with your name and email address in your signature. Popular email widget tools like WiseStamp can help you create a flashy signature line, but please — don’t get carried away. The more self-promotional your signature line, the more your recipient will think you’re just trying to sell something, even if you’re just saying hello.
Have you ever made a major email mistake? What mistakes do try to avoid? Share your thoughts in the comments below.