Posted in Career Advice for Young Professionals Communication Skills Generation Y/Millennials Getting from College to Career Managing Generational Differences Personal Branding Professionalism on March 27, 2014 at 8:45 am
Though some people feel that email is dead, statistics prove we’re far from that truth. Over 11,000 emails are sent to the average worker per year. Professionals spend hours every week reading and responding to emails, which is why perfecting email writing is one of the most important things you can do for your reputation. Email remains a powerful communication tool that demonstrates your ability to state your message, delegate tasks and get things done.
Young professionals (a.k.a. Millennials) may have an especially difficult time with email writing, caught between their training to write long-form papers for college and their habits of abbreviations and emoticons on social media. Neither works for email.
Want to rule email? Here’s what to keep in mind so you can look good in any inbox:
1. Subject lines are for subjects
While it’s essential to keep everything in emails on point, your subject line needs the most clarity. For example, if your email is a follow-up to your boss about one of your recent client meetings, you’ll want to note that immediately. It could look like: “Next steps on 3/18 Duffy meeting.” A generic “Hey there” or “Following up” confuses a recipient.
2. Shorter is always better
Train your brain to think about emails in terms of easiest readability. How fast could someone read each message, understand your point and know what action to take in response? Always be as concise as possible. Use bullet points to convey multiple ideas. Remember that people are busy and won’t absorb long, dense paragraphs.
3. Make formal your normal
When communicating with colleagues and clients, always err on the side of formality first. Don’t use emoticons, greet someone with “Hey,” or use text message acronyms unless older colleagues or clients do so first. I always feel old and defensive if someone uses an acronym I don’t know, like the first time I saw TTYL or FWIW. Avoid giving someone that feeling at all costs.
4. Proofread, proofread, proofread
Double-check your spelling, grammar and punctuation, even when communicating internally and with your team. Your colleagues will assume that the way you email them is the way you email clients. You don’t want them second-guessing your written communication skills. When it comes to a person’s name in particular, triple-check that spelling. As someone with a commonly misspelled name, I can tell you that people who get it right really stand out.
5. End on the high note; sign off professionally
At the end of your email, use a common, professional sign-off such as “Best” or “Regards.”(No “Hugs” or “xoxo”!) Don’t sign your name all in lowercase, as it makes you appear young. Include a professional email signature for all of your emails, specifying your title, company name and additional contact info that would be helpful, like a phone number or website. It’s always great to include your LinkedIn profile URL or other professional social media links as well.
Looking for other tips to master email etiquette at work? Check out my book, Getting From College to Career, where I talk much more about this subject. If you have an additional email “do” or “don’t” to share, I’d love to hear it in a comment below!
Image credit: iStockPhoto
In my “Now Trending” series, I curate five recently published articles that capture the future of work or embrace the Millennial mindset. Share your favorite articles of the week in a comment!
The online education marketplace continues to evolve with a new initiative to legitimize its role in hiring. Apollo Education Group launched their latest project called Balloon, which directly connects online courses to in-demand skills and relevant careers. Balloon will start with nearly 15,000 classes from well-known employers and online education groups Coursera and Udacity. Now you can add online courses to this list of non-traditional experiences to give yourself more credit for completing — and link it to a career path.
Do your SAT scores really matter anymore after you pass through the gate of college admissions? Apparently so, in some cases of employment, says this article in the Wall Street Journal. Competitive consulting firms and top investment banks alike both want to know the SATs scores of candidates applying for jobs. Maybe Ke$ha should rethink her career choice: she told Time magazine that she scored a 1500 on her SATs. Will the new SAT affect employers’ views on the exam? Only time will tell.
Rotational programs remain a popular way for employers to bring new talent to their organizations. New research, conducted by the National Association of Colleges & Employers, demonstrates the value of these kinds of roles in terms of employee retention. At the 5-year benchmark, employers who offer rotational programs retain an average of 6% more employees than those who do not. I think these types of opportunities are great for Millennials, who never want to feel “stuck” in one job for too long.
Okay, so this is not an article, but it is an information-packed slide on SlideShare from Bentley University’s PreparedU Project. They surveyed business executives, higher education professionals, college students and parents to gauge the next generation’s preparedness for the world of work. Some findings I found interesting: 66% of business leaders say hard and soft skills are equally important in the workplace and 74% of all respondents said education prepares students not just for jobs, but for entire careers.
It’s not news that Millennials are a generation who love video. Think YouTube, Vine and Instagram videos. They’re also a generation used to getting video how they want it and when they want it. Think “on demand” cable, Netflix and Chromecast. What are the best ways to capture this audience with this media? Rob Norledge, digital media expert, shares his 4 secrets with you in this piece. My favorite: make your video easily consumable and engage viewers quickly. Research cited in the article suggests that 1 in 5 viewers click away from videos in 10 seconds or less.
What other content caught your eye this week? Please share in the comments!
Image credit: word cloud from wordle.net
Posted in Career Advice for Young Professionals Communication Skills Generation Y/Millennials Managing Generation Y Managing Generational Differences Personal Branding Professionalism on February 25, 2014 at 8:57 am
In today’s multi-generational, global, constantly changing world, communication skills — both oral and written — are more important than anything else you can bring to a job. You can’t lead without good communication and no matter how technical or virtual the workplace becomes, your ability to speak and write well will differentiate you from your peers and determine the amount of success you’ll achieve.
Moreover, in every employer survey I read where they ask about Millennials, the employers say communication skills are what they want the most. They also say Millennials tend to lack those skills.
If you count yourself among the Millennials (aka Gen Y), and are a leader now or hope to move into a leadership role in the next few years, follow these tips to prepare yourself and show your employer what you’re capable of.
Watch out for speech patterns that make you sound too young
The top three problematic expressions I tend to hear when students and young employees come up to talk to me after I’ve given a speech are “um,” “like” and “you know.” I also hear a lot of upspeak, which occurs when you use a higher tone of voice at the end of a sentence as if you’re asking a question even when you aren’t.
These verbal quirks send the message that you’re young and inexperienced. Using them is a habit you’ll want to drop sooner rather than later, if you want to be taken seriously and advance at work.
A lot of people don’t realize they’re talking this way, so make an effort to listen to yourself or ask a friend to listen and let you know.
Communicate in your audience’s style
Communication is not about asserting yourself; it’s about getting your message across.
For the first time in history, we have a four-generation workplace, and each generation, generally, likes to communicate in different ways. The best leaders and most effective communicators find out how their colleagues like to communicate and use that preferred method as much as possible.
That may mean you have to call people who like to talk on the phone even though you’re most comfortable sending an e-mail. Or it could mean you have to use a more formal tone in your communications even though you prefer casual interactions.
Remember: Shorter is better
In the academic environments where you’ve spent most of your lives, you’ve learned to write long sentences using flowery, complicated language because that’s what your teachers rewarded and it helped you hit the mandatory word counts on assignments (or maybe that was just me …). Now that you’re in the business world, you need to learn to do the exact opposite.
I hear so many employers and workers from other generations complain about Millennials writing really long e-mails with too much detail. Whether you’re writing an e-mail, a report or some other business document, you should make every effort to be concise and use short sentences and bullet points to convey your message. My mantra: When in doubt, edit it out!
Don’t hide behind technology
Many Millennials use e-mail as their go-to method of communication, but in some situations it can take longer to achieve your goal that way. There are so many times when you can get things done more effectively by just picking up the phone or taking a short walk over to a colleague’s desk for a quick conversation. Choosing a more personal, direct communication style also builds your credibility and relationship with the other person.
Image credit: iStockPhoto