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Email Etiquette

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 unprofessional.

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.

Not proofreading

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 regret.

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 message.

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.

Sending megafiles

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” unnecessarily

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 “reply all.”

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 count

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 with authority:

  • 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.

  • Don’t automatically close with “Thanks” unless you’re asking someone to do something. “Regards” is a polite, professional and neutral signoff.

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 professionally.

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 or follow us on social media at

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 the crowd.

1. You don’t give specifics

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 salary

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 quick promotion.

3. The job title is misleading

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 terminology right.

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 enough

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.”

13 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 upward trajectory.

Here are ten workplace fashion mistakes that can cost you dearly when it comes to your career.

Anything cleavage baring

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.

Mini skirts

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 colleagues.

“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.

Short shorts

See mini skirts.

Stiletto heels

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 good idea.

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.

Anything see through

People do not take you seriously when they can see your underwear.

Inappropriately graphic tees

If it’s got a sexual reference or profanity on it, or it says “Boob Inspector,” keep calm and wear something else.


I 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.

Ripped anything

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.

Cut offs

See ripped anything and short shorts.

Saggy pants

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.

Flip flops

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…

Something that 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

  • Truck drivers

  • Registered nurses

  • Retail Salespersons and Sales Clerks

  • Skilled Trade Workers

  • Financial managers

  • Food Counter Attendants, Kitchen Helpers and Related Occupations

  • Cooks

  • Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists

  • Barbers, Hairdressers, and Beauticians

  • Couriers and delivery people

  • Customer Service Reps

  • Food and Beverage Servers

  • Healthcare Technicians

  • Administrative Assistants

  • 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 weeks.

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.