A site visitor was curious and pondered:
…after I enter the individual’s name what is the best punctuation? I am applying for a lot of jobs online and when I respond to their interest in my resume I am not sure of the correct approach. Sometimes I see “Dear James:.” other times I see “James;” and still others just use “James:”. What should I use in my replies? Do I alway start with a “Dear”? Do you have any other suggestions for job hunting related e-mails?
After your greeting, use a colon — Dear James: — not a semi-colon or a colon and a period as shown in your examples.
As far as addressing, for new contacts you can use Dear if that is your style. I’ve never used Dear. Being employment e-mails are so critical to how you are perceived you want to do whatever you can to reflect professionalism.
Dear is very formal and can help to do that until you see that your e-mails become more relaxed and conversational. At that point you can then just go to first name, or a Hello, Name:.
When it comes to employment opportunities the most important consideration is that levels of formality come into play.
Articles on How to Address E-mails
I have a couple of articles you might find helpful:
- Addressing Job Inquiries
- Approaching Employers by E-mail
- Here is a list of more articles on E-mail Addressing.
Use Your Writing Skills!
If you think about it, e-mail is just another venue to use the proper writing skills that you learned in grade school. Just because communications are not on paper, or perceived as less formal, doesn’t make them any less important or pertinent to you making a great impression to get that job!
The standards and guidelines of communicating with the written word that you learned as part of your basic education shouldn’t change because you are typing in an e-mail. Onliners who make that assumption tend to be viewed as lazy and lacking attention to detail. Not good when you are being considered for a job.
E-mail, albeit a different format, is still about communicating with the written word. That’s why proper sentence structure, grammar and format will always apply.
Yes, personal e-mails can certainly be less formal and it really wouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things if you used a colon or semi-colon after your opening greeting. But the notion that good writing and communication skills does not apply to e-mail in general is a misconception.
Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people. ~Jim Rohn
Keep in mind that educated people type in an educated way. Doing so makes sure you offer a positive impression while adding to the clarity in your communications. Both of which are critical to your job hunting efforts!