Using Email to Communicate with Companies

Updated: February 7, 2020

More and more, communication with employers is being done via email. It’s important that you make a positive, professional impression every time you click “send.” Below, you’ll find our top 10 tips for communicating with companies.

1. Get the subject right.

The text in your subject line can determine if your e-mail will ever be opened. If this is your first contact with a potential employer, choose a short subject line that clearly states the reason for your email. Your main goal is to avoid giving the impression that your email is spam, so avoid typos and don’t use all-caps or all-lowercase text.

2. Keep things formal.

Even if you know that every worker at a company wears cargo shorts to the office, always assume a formal tone in a business email. Emails can easily be misread, so be clear, polite, and grateful throughout. Until you meet in-person, your email persona is your entire persona. Once you’ve landed the job and built a relationship with your coworkers, you can chill out. Now’s not that time. Never use email shorthand, such as “ur” instead of “your” or “BTW” instead of “by the way.”

3. Address your contacts carefully.

When you address your email, use the highest level of courtesy. “Hello, Mr. Smith,” “Dear Ms. Jones,” and “Dear Avery Osborne” are all polite and clear. While most people don’t mind being called by their first name, always start with a more formal greeting. Never assume someone’s gender identity or preferred honorific; instead, play it safe by using their full name unless you’re 100% sure. Once your contact says, “Call me Mike” or signs their email with their first name only, you can be more casual.

4. Know your email fields.

A few reminders: Send your e-mail from a professional-sounding email address (this is not the time to send emails from Use the “Bcc” field when emailing a group of contacts who do not know each other. When you use the “Cc” or “To” fields, you publish people’s email addresses for everyone else on the email chain to see. This can be seen as disrespectful at best and a breach of privacy at worst. Use the “Cc” field when there are a handful of people involved in a discussion and everyone needs to be on the same page. If you are unsure about whether each person is willing to have their e-mail address made public, use the “Bcc” field or ask them directly.

5. Formatting matters.

Use only one font in each email. Standard fonts are your best bet, so try Arial or Times New Roman. Don’t use all-caps text. Remember that special formatting may not display the same for everyone, so stick to the basics.

6. Play it safe with attachments.

Don’t send a large PowerPoint presentation or other file that your contact didn’t request. It will fill up their inbox, which can cause subsequent emails to bounce. Additionally, if your contact doesn’t have the appropriate software, they won’t be able to open the file. If you need to send a large file, ask first, and confirm that they have the appropriate software to open the attachment. Finally, always compress or “zip” large files before sending them.

7. Always start a new email.

Don’t appear lazy by finding a previous email from your contact, hitting “reply,” and typing away about a separate subject. Instead, always start a new email with a clear, distinct subject line.

8. Edit your emails.

Before you start typing a response, go through the thread and delete redundant past emails, signatures, and headers. By removing the clutter, you’ll clarify your response and make it easier for your contact to stay on topic. Once you’ve done that, write your response—point by point—at the top. Then, reread and edit it, checking for grammar and spelling. Get rid of any filler so that everything is as concise as possible. Editing is a skill your recipients will appreciate, as it shows that you respect their time and are careful in your communications.

9. Practice common courtesy.

“Hello,” “Thank you,” “Sincerely,” and “Best regards” go a long way. All those intros and sign-offs that are a staple of professional business communications should also be used in your email communications. Additionally, always ask permission before forwarding an email to others.

10. Have a solid signature.

Keep your email signature to no more than 3–4 lines, ensuring that it has your name, title, and basic contact information (email address and phone number).


Often, your emails with a company are the beginning of a long-term relationship, so you want to make a great first impression. By being the consummate professional, you’re sure to stand out from the crowd.