Part II: The request part of the email series.
- Include the Details
This bullet seems straightforward, I know. However, it is worth noting that when you email someone with a request you need to include all the details about whatever you are asking them. For example, you wouldn’t email your professor and say “I need help on number 9.” Number 9, what? No, instead you would include the problem set and page number or ask to meet them during office hours to discuss the problem in more detail. The same concept is true when you ask anything over an email.
Here is are some important details you want to include (if applicable):
- Contact information for yourself and anyone they may need to send something to
- Requirements for what they will be doing (i.e. if they are filling out a form on a website include the web link and what they need to do once they reach the page)
- Specifics about the nature of your request (i.e. why you need a recommendation anyway)
- Job description or recommendation description
Please note, this is not an exhaustive list of all the details you may need to include in an email, but it’s a good start. The main point behind this section is that you want your contact to be able to immediately perform the task you’ve asked them to complete after they read your email without having to email you for more clarification. However, it is completely acceptable to include a catch phrase at the end of your email instructing your contact to reach out to you should they have any more questions. This is normal and expected!
- Please and Thank You
Remember when your parents would obnoxiously remind you to mind your manners anytime you went anywhere. It’s time to recall those lessons (maybe even call your parents and thank them for teaching you politeness!). Seriously though, “please” and “thank you’s” go a long way in an email and especially when you are asking for a request to be met.
As important as being polite is, be careful not to go overboard. This will make you sound insincere and over the top. Stick to using one please when you initially ask your request and a simple “thank you for your consideration” or “I greatly appreciate your time” in your conclusion.
- Re-Read Your Email Before Sending
Editing is the most important step of any email. Good grammar wins you points in so many categories so make sure you read and re-read your email before you hit that send button. By taking the time to check your email for simple mistakes and spelling errors you are communicating to your contact that you care enough about what you are saying to truly want there help. It also helps to make sure your email clearly communicates and that your request is easily understood.
We hope that you are learning new things in this series. Next up on the series, will be how to keep an email short but polite.