It’s estimated over 100 billion emails are sent and received each day. That’s an astronomical figure and makes it hard to believe our industry used to get by with fax or snail mail.
I’ll refrain from being obvious and tell you not to spell someone’s name wrong in an email.
However if you’ve ever tried to find the “recall email” option in Outlook before your direct dial rings with a fuming recipient, you’ll know how quickly the panic sets in.
This is a quest I can only assume Outlook made as difficult as possible for sheer humour.
Here are a selection of classic email fails:
1) The phantom attachment
Please find attached… nothing. There are email clients out there that notify you if there is nothing attached and you have typed the phrase.
The chronic version of this fail is when you follow up with “sorry about that, here you go” and forget to attach it again. Smooth.
Tip: Add the attachment right after you type “please find attached”.
2) The inappropriate autocorrect
Unlike typos which get highlighted, an auto-correct may just slip through unnoticed. This kind of slip up can backfire pretty monumentally.
A few examples:
Tip: Read an important email out loud to a colleague before sending. If you don’t notice something wrong, they might.
3) Country-sensitive spelling
If you’re ever conversing with new contacts in the US (or from the US to anywhere else English-speaking) you need to be mindful of the S and Z variation.
It’s pretty annoying when you take the time to devise an eloquently written introduction, only to receive a response that was more focused on your incorrect spelling of the word organisation. As ‘Jay Zed’ will testify, they love a “zee” in the US. As painful as it may be for those in England to adapt our English, you have to think of your audience.
4) Carbon copying skills
The whole point of a bcc- the blind carbon copy- is to hide one or more recipients from other recipients. If you’re emailing a list where the disclosing of other email addresses is not appropriate, you really need to ensure you use bcc.
Similarly, if you’re replying to a company-wide email about the new KPI’s and decide to reference Nazi Germany as being a more liberal regime, be sure to click Reply. Not Reply All.
Tip: Common sense
5) The Caps-slip
More of a frustrating time-waster than something that goes un-noticed before you hit send, but have you ever been typing furiously, only to realise you hit CAPS about four paragraphs ago.
(Does anyone else have grandparents whose computers appear to restrict them to ONLY TYPING IN CAPS?)
Tip: Get into the habit of not looking at your keyboard as you type. Or find the ‘Sentence Case’ button at the top of your email window.
6) Copy and Pasting
For great recruiters, the number of hours in the day are all that limits your earning potential so time-saving hacks are pretty important.
You may have various templates for new business development emails or candidate interview prep. Just make sure you don’t end up dropping in the name of the wrong organisation.
Tip: Read our article
7) Poor grammar and spelling
Poor grammar and spelling really is inexcusable. There are rules to writing in correct English, and it doesn’t take long to learn them. If you don’t take the time to use correct terms, all you end up doing is looking less intelligent and lazy.
A personal favourite of mine which seems to have slipped into common tongue is “literally.” As a guide: If you’re not literally doing something, don’t use the word literally.
8) The kiss email close
“Kind regards, Tom x”
Emailing a personal friend or significant other from your work email will undoubtedly increase the chance of this happening to you. If you’re lucky, your recipient will laugh it off. If you’re unlucky it could set completely the wrong tone.
Tip: Differentiate between personal and work email. (Given our industry, its highly likely that racy email is going to be seen by your boss if you’re not careful)
It’s likely you can relate to at least one of these errors, and we all make them from time to time. Taking an extra minute to proof read could save your embarrassment.
There’s one question I sometimes ponder myself – how do you inject a humorous tone into an email? Do you try “Haha” (bit texty) or go for the jugular with “Lol”? Surely not an emoticon?
If anyone has the answer to this life-long quest, I’m literally all ears. Well, not literally.
Consultant - Tech/Digital - UK Contract at Trinnovo Group
Divisional Manager > Associate Director at The Advocate Group
Senior Recruitment Consultants (Commission Only) at Zensho Agency
Senior Consultant / Associate Director at Jameson Legal
Start your own business at The Independent Recruiter Hub
Senior Consultant - USA (London based) at Franklin Fitch
Start your own business WITH A SALARY at Hilton Lord Associates