9 Email Etiquette Rules For Millennials (And Everyone Else!)

Paige Breaux

How often do people really use email anymore?

With the popularity of texting/Facebook Messaging/Snapchat/ect…email is no longer regarded as an essential tool for online communication among milennials. Most of us probably use our personal inboxes more as a way to collect Uber receipts and track the status of our Amazon purchases than for keeping in touch with friends and family.

However, one place emailing is still highly important is in the workplace. Setting up job interviews, responding to company memos, and requesting vacation time are only a few ways workers use email in their daily lives. Almost every office even assigns employees their own specific work-emails to keep track of all business correspondence.

So despite more social media-inspired office messaging systems like Slack becoming more popular, every job seeker – from millennial to Gen Z and beyond-, still needs to know how to craft an effective professional email if they want to be taken seriously in their careers.

Our team at kununu wants to help you succeed in your career both online and off, which is why we’re kicking off a new series of Worklife Real Talk blogs breaking down exactly what you need to know about the modern workplace. If you’re wondering how to dress, when to speak up in meetings, or socialize with coworkers-we’ve got your back.

As a recent graduate still learning the ropes of her first “adult” job, I’ve rounded up the most important tips millennials entering the workforce should keep in mind before hitting send:

1.) Keep Your Work Email All Business

When you start a new job, you’ll likely be assigned your own work email address similar to a version of “yourname@company.com.” This inbox should only ever be used for business related messages and orders, not linked in with your personal or school accounts. You never want to get caught shopping for clothes or hooking up your personal Spotify/Netflix/Itunes accounts through your work email. So always remember to stay signed out!

You never want to get caught shopping for clothes or hooking up your personal Spotify/Netflix/Itunes accounts  through your work email. So always remember to sign out!

 2.) Start with a Formal Greeting

Like the grand tradition of letter writing, emails should always start with a warm, professional greeting. Especially if you’re emailing a superior or reaching out for a favor, make sure to address the recipient by their proper first name and always spell their name correctly!

Even if you’ve been emailing back and forth with the same person for a while, it’s still polite to start with a friendly greeting before diving into the main message. If you’re unsure what greeting works best, stick to more formal options like“Hello [name]” or “Hi [name]”. Once you establish if the other person starts their messages with a “Hey” or other casual greeting then it’s usually a safe bet for you to mimic them in your reply.

3.) Keep it Concise

Busy people tend to skim things. An effective workplace email is one that gets right to the main purpose without three paragraphs of introduction outlining your five-year-plan.

To ensure your email gets opened, read, and thoroughly understood, start with a short and precise subject line addressing the problem at hand. Ex. “Wednesday Meeting Agenda” over “Important! Please Read!” Confine the body to the main “what” “where” “when” and “why” and hit send.

4. ) Avoid Texting Lingo

Subj: “OMG v urgent pls respond by Monday!”

While you shouldn’t be writing multiple pages per email, you should always stick to complete, grammatically-correct sentences and steer clear of casual abbreviations like “lol” and “thx.” This should go without saying but emojis are also a no-go (except maybe when they’ve sent the first one)! 🙂

5.) Don’t Flood Your Coworker’s Inbox

In addition to keeping your body message short and sweet, say everything you need to in a single message. Unlike texting/IM/snapchat, email isn’t really suited for stream-of-consciousness. No one wants to wake up to 6 unopened replies in their inbox from the same coworker adding a thousand “P.S.” memos to their original draft.

Avoid multiple messaging by planning out all the points you want to make in advance and re-read your message to make sure you covered everything before hitting send.

6.) Set Specific Deadlines For What You Need

If something in your email requires immediate action that needs to be addressed by a specific date, make that 100% clear in your message and lay out a timeline that orders different priorities.

Tone can be very difficult to get across in any kind of written communication, so express your needs and goals clearly and follow-up clarifying any questions/conflicts that come up. If you just right ASAP and assume your coworker knows you need this by tomorrow you could be setting yourself up for a major issue.

Similarly, if your email includes an attachment, make sure you specifically reference that in the message. Never just assume the other person will see it.

7.) BCC On All Office-Wide Memos

Your work inbox is not the same as the group chat your friends use to swap weekend plans. If you need to send a company-wide message, avoid CCing everyone individually so that everyone included doesn’t get people aren’t flooded with annoying “Sure!” or “Works for me!” responses for the rest of the day.

8.) Always Respond!

A huge difference I’ve noticed between the generations is that millennial’s generally have a more lax approach when it comes to responding.

With the option to reply to a text whenever is convenient, instead of talking on the phone or silencing your cell read receipts, it’s become easier to simply ignore messages in the moment and make a mental note to get back to them…whenever. However, in the office the general rule is to answer all messages within one to three business days, and if there is urgency within the email, by the end of the current workday. .

Even if there was no specific request or immediate issue to act on, always make sure to acknowledge that you read and received their message with a brief “Thanks for sending” or “Sounds good.”  While you might think the sender will automatically assume you got the gist of your situation. It’s incredibly easy for silence to be misconstrued as rudeness or purposefully ignoring the other person.

Trust me, your coworkers will not react well to being “ghosted.”


9.) Sign Off With An Official Signature

As a professional, you should have a set standard way to close out all your correspondence. (and no, “Sent from my iPhone” doesn’t count!)

Many companies will have a standard email signature format and logo for all employees to add to the end of their memos. If this is the case at your job, make sure to copy it exactly and never add any custom fonts/colors/GIFS.

If a signature isn’t provided for you, stick to the typical model of:

Contact Info (generally your work phone number and email address.)

Remember to keep these tips in mind next time you open up your inbox at work and in no time you’ll be an email expert!


Join us next time for another dose of Work Life Real Talk and in the meantime you can talk to us for more on-the-job advice @kununu_US.