By Robert Half
Email is the most common form of office
communication — used more than meetings, phone calls or instant
messages. But precisely because it’s such a workhorse, email is prone to
abuse. Professionals sometimes get lazy and allow bad habits to creep
in. Even worse, emails gone awry or astray can leave you looking
You’ve been using email for years, but are
you doing it right? Here are some bad habits to watch out for — and
break right away.
A work email is just a
business communiqué sent electronically, yet people frequently don’t
bother to check for errors. Sloppy messages reflect poorly on the
writer, so make it a habit to reread every email — no matter who
it’s to or what it’s about. This is especially important if your
email has an autocorrect function. Rereading also helps reduce the
chances you’ll forget an attachment or send something you’ll later
Being too informal
The tone of the message
should reflect your relationship with the recipient. However, watch
your level of informality lest you come across as unprofessional. Be
judicious in your use of exclamation points, emoticons, colored
text, SMS shorthand (“u” for “you,” “ur” for “your” or “you’re”),
all lowercase or caps and fancy fonts.
Going too long
Lengthy blocks of text
are hard on the eye – better to break them into short paragraphs.
Bullet point and numbered lists are also easier to digest. Use bold
and italics — but sparingly — to highlight important parts of your
Going too short
On the other extreme,
avoid one-word replies. For example, if you get an email that
requires a simple answer, don’t write just “yes” or “no,” which some
may interpret as abrupt. Tap out at least a complete sentence and
add a signoff. Why? Tone is difficult to convey in writing.
Therefore, the shorter the response, the more the recipient can come
away with an unintended meaning.
Attaching 10MB files is
a breach of email etiquette. Some servers don’t handle large
attachments well, and your huge .pdf, .ppt or .mov file either won’t
go through or could wreak havoc on the recipient’s inbox. Better to
use an online service such as DropBox, Hightail (formerly YouSendIt)
or DropSend, or your company’s internal file transfer program.
Hitting “reply all”
Emails are a great way
to communicate with a large group. Unfortunately, that’s also one of
their downfalls. Email storms start with a message to the entire
list, snowball when several people reply-all, and really get out of
hand when others reply-all asking to be taken off the list or
telling everyone to stop. A simple email etiquette rule: The more
recipients there are, the more careful you should be before hitting
Mixing work and personal
Using company email for
personal reasons is not only annoying, but it’s also poor workplace
etiquette. If you have jokes, memes or video links you’re just dying
to share, send them to your co-workers’ personal email addresses
from your personal account. Above all, never send NSFW (not safe for
work) content via work email. Transmitting racy or objectionable
messages could land you in hot water and possibly cost you your job.
Now that you know which bad habits to break,
here are two new email etiquette rules to follow.
Make the subject line
An email with “Hello” as
the subject says nothing and might even be filtered out as spam by
some systems. If a message is worth writing, it deserves a
descriptive header. If you want the recipient to revise the Q3
report by Friday, a subject line of “Please revise Q3 report by
Friday” is much more effective than just “Report.”
Write with authority
Some office workers want
to avoid coming across as brusque or demanding. But in their effort
not to offend, their emails sound weak and apologetic. If you want
to be taken more seriously, make it a habit to write courteously yet
Don’t apologize when
asking for something you have every right to ask for.
Be sparing in your
usage of “I feel …” or “I think …” Get to the point rather than
dance around it.
close with “Thanks” unless you’re asking someone to do
something. “Regards” is a polite, professional and neutral
Basic email etiquette boils down to being
professional and putting yourself in your recipients’ shoes. Treat your
emails as you would business letters, which they are, and you can be
confident your messages will be signed, sealed and delivered
Robert Half is the world’s
first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of
more than 400 staffing and consulting locations worldwide. For
additional career advice, read our blog at blog.roberthalf.com or follow
us on social media at roberthalf.com/follow-us.
5 Ways Your
Job Posting is Turning off Jobseekers
By Liz Ramcharan
Are you struggling to attract candidates for
vacancies or get applicants of the standard you require? If so, it could
be time to take a closer look at your jobs ads. Read on for five common
mistakes recruiters make and how to write jobs ads that stand out from
1. You don’t give
You (hopefully) wouldn’t
buy a vehicle from an advert that read, “Nice car, four doors, red,”
yet a lot of employers give a similarly brief description of the
role they want to fill.
Recruiters who think less is more are
shooting themselves in the foot, according to Corinne Mills,
managing director of Personal Career Management and author of
“Career Coach.” “Sparsely worded job adverts make it difficult for
candidates to see whether the role is a good fit for them or not,”
she explains. “Provide as much information as you can to encourage
suitable candidates and dissuade those who don’t fit the bill.”
Leah Freeman, recruiter and team manager
at PFJ Media Recruitment, agrees, adding that it’s a common
complaint amongst the applicants she sees.
“Lots of candidates at the moment are
finding that job ads are very generic and so they aren’t able to
tailor their CVs appropriately,” she says.
2. You don’t disclose
Not only do some adverts
only offer a brief description, some don’t mention salary either – a
sure sign that employers think they’re benefiting from a buyer’s
market when it comes to finding staff. You might think that playing
it coy will give you a broader range of candidates to choose from,
but not disclosing compensation can have the opposite effect.
“Adverts which don’t indicate a salary
level are a turn-off for candidates, as they won’t know whether it’s
at an appropriate level for them or not,” Mills says. “Try to
include at least a salary range to give them some indication.”
Freeman agrees, adding that a lack of
salary information is a common gripe amongst jobseekers. “I talk to
candidates every day, and the thing that frustrates them most is
companies that don’t advertise salary,” she says.
If you don’t want to mention numbers for
commercial reasons, consider indicating whether the package is
“competitive” or even “generous” in comparison to the market rate.
If the package isn’t competitive, be sure to promote non-monetary
benefits, such as flexible or remote working or the opportunity for
3. The job title is
Most industries use a
common set of terms to describe roles, so make sure the job title is
matched to the actual role. You may be looking for a “marketing
ninja”, “brand warrior” or “computer programming magician,” but how
many candidates will be searching for those terms?
Similarly, mix up your “Web developer”
and your “Web designer,” and your posting could turn out to be an
expensive waste of time.
“Job titles vary hugely, so be aware
that candidates may miss your job if they’re using different job
title search criteria,” Mills explains. “Wherever possible, use a
commonly used job title, or make reference to alternative job search
titles within the job posting so that your job will surface when
they search for vacancies online.”
And if you’re looking to hire someone
with specialist skills, research the market thoroughly and get the
4. You’re being too fussy
Of course you want to
find the right person for the job, but including an exhaustive list
of requirements is a sure way to turn off candidates.
John Lees, career coach and author of
“Secrets of Resilient People,” suggests stripping the advert back to
the core skills and experience required and then cherry picking your
preferred candidates for an interview.
“Don’t over-sell the role, asking for
qualifications and experience you don’t really need,” he warns. “Ask
yourself what really matters to making the job successful, and get
that list down to a maximum of eight must-haves, which should
feature in the job ad and the interview plan.”
5. You don’t think big
To really sell the role,
give candidates an idea of the kind of projects they can expect to
work on, the responsibilities they will have and the contribution
they will make to the company.
“Today’s candidates are looking for
career advancement, not just a job, so tell them about the
opportunities for promotion and training and development you can
offer,” Lees advises. “Give candidates an idea of the kind of future
they could have with the organisation, if successful in the role,
and they will be far more likely to apply.”
Fashion Choices That Can Seriously Hurt Your Career
by Elizabeth Bromstein
We all know what we should and should not
wear to the job interview right? Always err on the side of formality,
don’t wear shorts, and cover your cleavage.
But we also know that after you get the job,
the tie goes back in the closet and the jeans come out. How much can you
relax? That depends on you and where you work. Most workplaces, outside
of areas like law and finance, have more relaxed dress codes these days,
with jeans, sneakers being totally acceptable.
But that doesn’t mean you can just wear
whatever you want, particularly if you want to keep your career on an
Here are ten workplace fashion mistakes that
can cost you dearly when it comes to your career.
Some women don’t seem to be aware that this is
still taboo, even after you get the job. A friend was telling me the
other day about an admin assistant showing up flaunting massive
cleavage. Sure, maybe this will work if your plan is to flirt or sleep
your way to the top. But for everyone else, as soon as you start showing
your cleavage to your colleagues, your perceived IQ drops dramatically,
and everyone takes you less seriously.
Again, just think of the amount of skin showing as directly correlative
to the number of perceived IQ points you lose in the eyes of your
“I once worked with a woman who wore mini
skirts and dresses that barely covered her butt, paired with stripper
stilettos. She was the talk of the office but sadly, no one seemed to
talk to her about it,” says a marketing manager.
I feel strongly that someone should have
taken her aside and talked to her rather than allow gossip to fester,
but this highlights the fact that your colleagues will view you
negatively if you don’t stick to the dress code, and that can undermine
you in many ways.
See mini skirts.
Stiletto heels are at worst a bid for sexual attention and at best a
mark of vanity, and, because they are uncomfortable and hard to walk in,
wearing them marks you as interested in this form of attention to the
point of impracticality, which doesn’t reflect well on your
professionalism. I love a high heel. Just keep it to three inches or
less. Obviously wearing stilettos with mini skirts and cleavage is not a
Anything too tight
Your colleagues should not be able to see every contour of your body,
even if you just got in super shape and are really proud of it.
People do not take you seriously when they can
see your underwear.
If it’s got a sexual reference or
profanity on it, or it says “Boob Inspector,” keep calm and wear
actually don’t mind Crocs but others have very strong negative feelings
about them, and almost everyone seems to agree they’re too casual for
the workplace. Put on some actual shoes.
Even if they’re those jeans that you buy already
distressed, it’s just bad form to wear ripped clothing. Also, a lot of
us just hate those jeans. Wearing ripped clothing suggests you have no
respect for your workplace environment. If it has a hole, mend it.
See ripped anything and short shorts.
While the true origins of the saggy pant remain a mystery, so does the
explanation behind its persistence as a fashion statement. Dudes, you
look ridiculous with your butt hanging out, and you walk funny too.
History has shown that no matter how many people point out how dumb it
looks, you’ll do it anyway, but I can still try. Pull up your pants.
Absolutely nobody will take you seriously wearing this.
They are too casual for many, if not most, workplaces. That
being said, they’re perfectly fine in some and are only taboo if you’ve
never seen flip flops there. If you are the only one wearing them,
chances are you shouldn’t be wearing them. Which brings us to…
directly clashes with the workplace culture
Frankly, I could
make an argument for wearing whatever you want as long as it’s not
inappropriately skin baring or torn, provided you do your job well. But,
here’s the thing, there’s another argument to be made for fitting into
the company culture if you have a goal of advancing your career. Most
companies, when hiring, are looking for team members who fit in. They
want their organization to function like a family. So, while it might
not be technically against the rules to show up in a suit where everyone
wears jeans and sneakers, or vice versa, it might also not endear your
to your colleagues and superiors.
This means that all of these rules are
totally invalid if your company culture supports the fashion choice in
question, from flip flops, to saggy pants to mini skirts.
Many experts say to pay attention to what
your superiors wear and emulate them. Another way of putting it is the
old “Dress for the job you want.” This makes sense. If the company
president sees you dressed in something they might wear themselves, it’s
quite likely they’ll think “I like the cut of that kid’s jib. Looks like
leadership material. I’ll keep that in mind,” even if they don’t quite
know why they’re thinking it.
If you dress for the job you want, at best
you’ll make an impression. At worst, you’ll wind up in a disciplinary
hearing dressed as Batman.
15 In-Demand Jobs in Canada
By Peter Harris
Here at Workopolis we are sometimes accused
of focusing disproportionately on white collar office jobs – while
neglecting to write about the other occupations that many, many people
work in. So this weekend, I’ve been reviewing recent job postings
reports, and it turns out that many of the most readily-available
positions right now require more hands-on skills than most desk jobs.
Looking at online job postings and how long
they stay online across platforms – on Workopolis and other paid
websites as well as on the free classifieds and government job boards –
we can see which vocations are most in demand by Canadian employers and
how long those positions take to fill.
Job postings that stay up the longest – or
which are immediately reposted following the job ad’s expiration –
indicate a perpetual need or a difficulty to fill.
So we’ve put together a list of the most
sought-after vocations for which there are constantly available job
openings advertised online.
Here are the 15 most in-demand occupations
in Canada right now
Retail Salespersons and Sales Clerks
Skilled Trade Workers
Food Counter Attendants, Kitchen Helpers and
Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists
Barbers, Hairdressers, and Beauticians
Couriers and delivery people
Customer Service Reps
Food and Beverage Servers
Advertising, Marketing and PR Managers
These jobs typically take approximately 45
days to fill. Job posting data shows that Truck Drivers and Nurses
usually take the longest to fill at about 55 days – or eight weeks.
The job with the shortest job posting period
is Administrative Assistants, which averages 36 days, or just over five
Recruitment firm ManpowerGroup’s Talent
Shortage Survey recently identified a similar list of the most difficult
jobs for employers to hire for in Canada for 2014. Their findings also
show a need for workers for both blue collar and white collar jobs.