Writing a Professional Email

Whether you are a job seeker applying for positions and corresponding with hiring managers, or a working professional writing to coworkers, superiors and clients, being able to write a professional email is a critical skill. Learn how to avoid making simple mistakes and seeming unprofessional by following our tips below:

  1. Attach your documents FIRST.
    • Before you do anything else, attach any documents you need to include. For example: your resume, a report, etc.
    • If you’ve ever sent an email and realized a second too late that you’ve forgotten to include the attachment, this tip will definitely benefit you!
  2. Fill in your contact’s email address LAST:
    • This way, if you accidentally hit send before your email is finished it will not go to your intended recipient.
  3. Set up an automatic signature with your phone number and email address:
    • Then you’ll never have to worry about including your contact information in your emails.
  4. Proofread out loud:
    • Always read your emails aloud before sending them. Your ear will pick up on any spelling, wording, or grammar mistakes that you might have missed otherwise.
  5. Choose your subject line AFTER writing the body of your email:
    • Your email subject should reflect what is written in your email, so it’s easier to choose a more relevant subject line once you know exactly what your email will say.

How to Job Search While You’re Still Employed

Finding a job is a full-time job in itself, so looking for work while you’re still employed can be especially difficult. It’s important that you set time aside to devote to your job search – and this means outside of your regularly scheduled working hours! Also, you want to avoid letting your current employer know that you’re looking elsewhere until you’re ready to give notice. Learn how to do just that by following our advice below:

  1. Don’t job hunt while you’re at work!
    • This includes working on your resume, applying for jobs, surfing the job boards, etc.
  2. Don’t take/make calls and emails from hiring managers or recruiters at your desk.
    • If you need to communicate regarding a potential opportunity, do so over your lunch or coffee break, and make sure to leave your office to make these calls in private.
    • This also means you should list your personal phone number and email address on your resume – not your work contact info.
  3. Don’t post your resume all over job boards.
    • If your current employer is hiring, it’s very likely that they browse job boards in order to find candidates, and they will know that you are looking elsewhere if they come across your resume.
    • Take advantage of job alerts instead of posting your resume. This way you will receive emails about potential job opportunities directly from the job boards.

Getting a Late Start

 

 

You wake up one morning in a panic; it’s 8:15 and you need to leave in the next ten minutes or risk being very late for work. We have all been there before, and we will probably be there again, so make sure you have a “get ready quick” plan in place for those dreaded mornings.

 

  1. Have a couple back-up outfits ready and waiting in your closet. Each season, pick out two outfits you can throw on in a flash. Try them on to make sure you are happy with the look and fit, and set them aside in your closet. This way, when your alarm fails to go off in the morning, you won’t have to spend any time in front of your closet making heavy decisions.

 

  1. Have a couple on-the-go breakfasts ready. Don’t skip breakfast when you’re in a rush, take it with you instead! Grab a banana or a granola bar on your way out the door to make sure you’re properly fueled and ready to face another day of work.

 

  1. Invest in some dry shampoo. If you don’t have enough time to wash your hair in the morning, dry shampoo is a great alternative for touching up your roots.

 

  1. Call your boss. If you are running late in the morning and unsure whether or not you’ll make it to work on time, let your boss know ahead of time. Explain your situation and let them know you will be there as soon as possible, and apologize for the inconvenience.

 

  1. Stay calm, cool and collected. Working yourself into a frenzy while rushing out the door is a bad start for an even worse day. Keep your calm and recognize that mistakes happen before stressing out too much. You are sure to have a better day all around and avoid making any further mistakes if you keep your composure.

Important Qualities to Highlight

 

While every position requires different experiences, strengths and skills, there are certain qualities that are beneficial to any professional. When writing your resume or speaking to a potential employer, highlighting these qualities and giving examples of how they have benefited you in the workplace will give you a leg up on the competition.

 

  • Initiative: Taking initiative outside the set responsibilities of your position is an ideal quality to have as an employee. Employers want to hire someone who can confidently complete their assignments, but they also want someone who will go above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Prioritizing: Being able to prioritize your responsibilities is another great quality to have in the workplace. An employer wants someone who can not only balance his or her many responsibilities, but also be able to recognize which ones are most important or time sensitive.
  • Communication: Strong communication skills will help you no matter what job you are applying for. Being able to speak professionally, clearly, and politely will take you far as a professional. Also, having good writing skills is equally important.
  • Reliability: A potential employer wants to know that he or she can count on you to be there when they need you. An ideal employee should be punctual and have a solid attendance record. When an employer needs extra help, a reliable employee will step in and pick up the slack without waiting for instruction.

 

Highlighting these key qualities on a resume or in an interview will definitely benefit you.

Tips for Metro Riders

 

If you are one of those lucky Washingtonians who doesn’t have to battle through traffic on the Beltway every morning to commute to work, you most likely take the metro! Learn how to make your metro commute easier, safer, and all around more enjoyable by following the tips below:

  1. Buy a SmartTrip Card: Not only will these cards get you through the turnstiles a little more quickly; they also save you up to a dollar or more on every trip!
  2. Wear comfortable shoes: Commuting via metro typically means that you will have to do a bit of walking to get to and from the station, so wear comfortable shoes and bring your work shoes in a separate bag if necessary.
  3. Hold onto your bags at all times: Holding onto your bags will not only protect you from theft, but it’s also considerate for other passengers to keep your bags off the floor and seats.
  4. Keep your fare card handy: While you want to keep your fare or SmartTrip card somewhere safe, you also want to have it easily accessible so that you don’t have to hunt through your entire purse or wallet to find it when exiting the metro.
  5. Stand right, walk left: This rule of thumb applies to riding the escalators. If you are standing, stand to the right, this leaves the left side open for walking passengers to pass by you unobstructed.
  6. Report any suspicious behavior or unattended bags: Metro police request that passengers report any suspicious behavior or unattended bags they notice to a uniformed metro worker or police officer. This action will help keep you and other riders’ safe while on the metro.
  7. Plan your trips ahead of time: If you are a daily commuter, you probably know what time your train arrives every morning, but it’s always a good idea to check for any metro delays or alerts before you leave the house to avoid any interruptions to your routine. 

 

 

Professional Email Etiquette

Great communication skills are critical for any career, so it’s important that you express yourself in the clearest, most professional way possible. When it comes to job hunting, every instance of communication with a potential employer is extremely important. Even something as simple as a poorly written email could result in you losing out on an opportunity. Here are a few simple tips to help you write stronger, more articulate emails:

 

  • Keep it simple: Hiring managers have to go through hundreds of emails a day from potential candidates so don’t take up any more of their time than you have to.
    • Get to the purpose of your email as quickly as possible!
      • Example: If you are inquiring about the status of a position, you don’t need to explain why you’re interested in the position, etc. Simply ask if the job is still available, and provide contact information so they can reach you.
  • Keep it professional: Remember that you are building a professional relationship, not a personal one.
    • Emoticons are cute, but not appropriate to send potential employers. Keep the J’s for your friends.
    • Make sure your email address is appropriate and mature. For example, try creating an email address with your name in it instead of cute alternatives like “SoccerStud56” or “LadyBug33.”
  • Keep it appreciative: Proper business correspondence etiquette states that you should use some form of thanks in the first sentence of any email.
    • Follow-up emails after interviews are an important way to cement the connection you made. Make sure to thank your potential employer for their time and consideration.
    • If a potential employer responds to an email inquiry, it is polite to thank them for their prompt response.
  • Check it often: When on the job hunt, it is important to check your emails at least once a day.
    • Missing an interview request via email could result in you missing out on an opportunity. If you don’t respond quickly enough, they will find someone else who will!
  • Spell-check it: Bad grammar and punctuation are sure to turn away any prospective employers.
    • Make sure to review the content of an email at least twice before hitting send.
    • Forgetting to create a message subject that clearly reflects the content of your email is another easily corrected mistake. Leaving it as “No Subject” is a definite turn off for employers looking through full inboxes

 

Keep these tips handy next time you email a prospective employer and you’ll be sure to make a good impression!

How to Succeed as a Temp

As we have previously mentioned, temporary work is a great way to get your foot in the door with an organization and potentially find a permanent job with them. For that reason, you should treat each and every temporary assignment as part of a long interview process. Everything you do and say (and even the things you don’t do or say) will make a positive or negative impression on your temporary supervisor. Going into a temp assignment with a great attitude and the desire to succeed will result in you making a great impression on the company you are temping for, and could possibly lead to a full-time job offer. Follow our tips below and you will be sure to succeed as a temporary employee:

 

  • Always act professionally
  • Take initiative whenever it seems appropriate
  • Express interest in the organization and what you are doing
  • Don’t use the computers or office machinery for personal use
  • Don’t text or make calls while on the clock
  • Avoid being late or missing work
  • Offer to take on additional responsibilities
  • Ask thoughtful and insightful questions
  • Make suggestions for improvement if appropriate
  • Build professional connections with your colleagues
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for additional clarification whenever necessary
  • Make sure your work is properly prioritized
  • Keep your workspace tidy and organized
  • Use a professional vocabulary and avoid any slang usage

Transitioning Your Work Wardrobe for Spring

As the weather gets warmer, professionals are ditching their winter wardrobes in favor of cooler clothing. While it’s important to dress appropriately for the season, you also need to adhere to your workplace’s dress code. If your office adheres to a business casual dress code, we have made lists of what is and is not appropriate to wear to help you prepare your spring wardrobe

 

What is appropriate?

  • Dress pants
  • Blouses
  • Skirts or dresses that reach the knee
  • Polo shirts
  • Button down shirts
  • Closed toe shoes
  • Khakis or slacks
  • Sweaters

 

What is not appropriate?

  • Jeans
  • Sneakers
  • Hats of any kind
  • Open toe shoes or sandals/flip flops
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Cargo pants
  • Athletic wear
  • Sweatpants and sweatshirts
  • Tank tops or sleeveless shirts
  • Revealing clothing
  • Tights/leggings

Being Punctual

Punctuality is a critical quality for any professional to have. While this may seem obvious, a lot of professionals struggle with being on time in this busy modern world. Even unemployed job seekers need to be aware of time frames and deadlines when interviewing for and applying to jobs. For now, we will focus on the importance of being on time for a job interview and provide some rules to help make sure you are always punctual in the future.

 

Rule #1: Don’t be late.

  • If you realize ahead of time that you are running late for an interview, call your interviewer immediately and let them know your situation. Be sure to apologize for the inconvenience.
  • In a tough job market, hiring managers have their pick when it comes to capable candidates. Even showing up five minutes late for a job interview could disqualify you for a position.
  • If a hiring manager can’t trust you to show up on time for an interview, they have no reason to trust that you will be on time for work or meet project deadlines.

Rule #2: Being too early is the same as being late.

  • Do not show up more than fifteen minutes early for a job interview unless you were otherwise instructed.
  • Showing up too early for an interview can make you appear desperate to hiring managers. Think of a job interview as a first date, you wouldn’t want your date to think you were overeager or desperate either.
  • The same as if you were late for an interview, a hiring manager will attribute you showing up a half hour early to your bad time management skills.

Rule #3: Know where you’re going ahead of time.

  • If you have time and are unfamiliar with the area, visit the company’s office prior to your interview so that you know exactly where you’re going and how long it will take you to get there.
  • If you don’t have time to physically scope out your route, use the Internet to plan it in advance.
  • If you are driving to your interview, make sure you know where you are going to park. You don’t want to be late because it took twenty minutes to find a parking space.

Rule #4: Show up early, but don’t go in.

  • The best advice we can give you is to intentionally allow yourself extra time to get to your interview. This will give you some wiggle room in case you run into unforeseen trouble such as traffic or delays on public transportation.
  • Even if you don’t hit any delays and end up outside of the office twenty minutes early, don’t go in! Find somewhere nearby you can kill time prior to your interview such as a coffee shop or deli. Use the extra time to review your notes one last time.

Interview Body Language

To prepare for a big job interview, most job seekers spend the majority of their time planning what they will say. While what you say is extremely important, you shouldn’t forget that how you look and present yourself in a job interview holds substantial weight in the eyes of hiring managers. Learn how to display proper body language in a job interview by reading our tips below:

 

  • Establish a comfortable distance between yourself and your interviewer. Invading a hiring manager’s personal space will make them feel uncomfortable and could distract them from what you are saying.
  • Sit up straight and lean in slightly towards your interviewer. This will show that you are attentive and engaged in the conversation.
  • Display enthusiasm by nodding occasionally and displaying other positive cues.
  • Maintain eye contact, but don’t be afraid to break it. Staring at your interviewer through the entirety of the interview could make them uncomfortable.
  • Smile often to show enthusiasm and interest in the position. Hiring managers will mistake a lack of expression as lack of interest in the position.
  • Sit still and avoid fidgeting. Touching your face, scratching your back, or playing with your hair will signal to your interviewer that you are uncomfortable or disinterested. Avoid shaking your leg, which will also display agitation and disinterest.
  • Give your interviewer a firm handshake at the beginning and end of your interview to display appreciation and confidence.