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Communication Etiquette for Business Correspondence

A lot has been written about “formal communication” during a job interview. There is no dearth of material pertaining to verbal and non-verbal cues that make up for professional business etiquette. Hence, it’s time we talk about communication practices that begin BEFORE you land an interview.

Not to be taken lightly, the exchange of information that begins with an email has the power to ruin your chances of making it big. What needs to be realized is that there is a big difference between communicating with friends and communicating with a prospective employer.

It has been witnessed that improper email behavior can cause confusion, tension, and other negativities in working professionals.So how do you communicate to get the best results? This article will tell you how.

Email: Job Application

The first time you make your presence felt is when you send a formal job application to the prospective employer. This is accompanied by a copy of your resume and a cover letter, if required. To appear more professional, always send a cover letter along with the job application email to sell yourself better.

However – getting back to the topic – when sending the first initiation email there are certain pointers to keep in mind to avoid being neglected at the get-go.

  • Be precise and to the point. Do not elaborate unnecessarily at the first-go. However, if you plan to send your cover letter in the body of the email, make sure you begin appropriately and terminate your verbose with your contact information.
  • Do not over-communicate. Before writing; ask yourself, “Is this really required?”
  • Make use of the subject line. It is the first thing that is viewed by the employer. Use few well-chosen words to summarize the article and grab the attention of the recruiting manager.
  • A well written subject line delivers the most information without the receiver even having to open the mail. For example: Bad example – “Job Application”. Good Example – “Job application for Editorial Assistant – Ref no. 3765EA”.
  • Ensure that the body of the email is short and informative.
  • Use formal language and avoid slangs, jargon, and inappropriate abbreviations.
  • Close your email with “Regards” or “Yours sincerely”.

Email: Response

Depending on your credentials, and after going through your resume, the hiring manager will give one of the following replies:

Acceptance Email

You did everything right and your qualifications are apt for the job position applied to. Your application has been shortlisted. In this situation you will most probably receive an acceptance email detailing the requirements for an interview. It will state the date, time, venue, and documents required for the D-day.

How to reply: Do not get over-excited and simply say “yes” to the email. Choose your words carefully and formally articulate your response beginning with a “Thank you for considering my application”. Continue by agreeing to the details mentioned and terminate with a simple “I shall reach the venue on xx/xx/xx at 11 am”.

Rejection Email

If your resume does not fit the bill, chances are that you may not receive a reply from the organization at all. However, most times you do. It is a politely written email rejecting your application, quoting lack of vacancy or stating that the position has been filled already.

How to reply: Do not be rude when you do this. Check the tone of your narration and reply in an official manner. Rejection is a part of the entire selection process so it must not be taken to heart. Reply by saying “Thank you for taking some time out to view my application. I am most grateful”.

Communication: In an Interview

You received a positive response to your job application, and promptly reached the venue on time on the day of the interview. From that moment on, prepare to be judged under a spotlight till the time you exit. Business communication etiquette is important from the instant you step into the corporate environment. How you interact with the administration, employer, and other candidates gives a glimpse of your professional ethics and body language.

Formal business communication comprises of verbal and non-verbal cues which need to be kept in check during an interview. Decoding non-verbal behavior can be a little difficult, but not impossible.

Verbal Communication

  • Speak clearly and enunciate with proper rhythm and intonation.
  • Concentrate on your breathing to avoid fumbles and stammering.
  • Never sigh after a question and avoid using words like “uhm”, “er”, and “so”.
  • Be honest in your answers and emphasize on staying positive during the narration.
  • Give thorough answers but avoid getting too technical as the recruiter may not know as much as you and giving too much information might just go against your favor.
  • Prepare interesting questions beforehand. Asking them at the right time will showcase your vision and interest in the company.
  • Thank the recruiter for his/her time and walk out the room in a decent manner.

Non-verbal Communication

  • Begin your interview with a confident handshake as it will give you an instant advantage.
  • Be immaculately dressed with minimalistic make-up, jewelry, and other endorsements.
  • Sit upright during the interview and try to make eye contact with the recruiter without staring too much.
  • Respect the personal space of the recruiter, so do not lean into him and make the situation awkward.
  • Do not tap your feet or go clickety-click with a ball-point pen.

If you conduct yourself professionally without being fidgety, non-verbal cues will never fail you.

Email: Post Interview

If you replied to the best of your abilities, and luck was by your side, you shall receive a call regarding your acceptance, and eventually the offer letter. It’s imperative you reply to this finality with discipline as that will initiate a long-drawn business correspondence terminating at the end of your tenure in that office.

Offer Letter

The email containing the offer letter will also give details of other formalities like office timing; pick up points, route map, introductory presentation, official designation, remuneration, etc. It is the ticket to a prosperous and eventful professional journey.

How to reply:

When you draft a response to the acceptance email, it’s appreciated if you write an official job acceptance letter to formally accept the job offer and confirm the details of employment. Your letter could be brief; but it must include written acceptance of the job offer, thank you and appreciation for the opportunity, salary and benefits of employment, and agreement with the starting date of the job. Samples of the same can be obtained online.

Rejection Letter

In case the organization deems you unfit for the position, they will send you a rejection email. Most candidates ignore this mail completely, which is wrong. It is inappropriate, insulting, and rude. Always reply to the rejection email with grace and humility as you never know when you might need the assistance of the said organization.

Proper business etiquettes might impress the employer to an extent that he selects you or calls you for another job vacancy.

Emails are simple. They are less intrusive than a phone call and faster than a letter. Hence, take your time to put together well-written messages. Because, once you hit the send button you will not have another chance. Make the most of it.

(Author is a career advisor for naukri.com, she endorses the subscription of free job alerts for a hassle-free job search experience.) 



Tina Jindal

Tina Jindal is a professional content writer who works on a variety of topics like employment, real estate, and education. A career advisor for naukri.com, she endorses the subscription of free job alerts for a hassle-free job search experience.