sharadsinha

Email Etiquette- So much for it!

In Education on June 6, 2016 at 11:32 PM

One can find hundreds of posts, articles etc. on email etiquette, especially for those looking for jobs. How to address a person, what to write in the body of the email, how to close an email etc. A lot of this advice assumes that  those who need it are individuals looking for  grant, scholarship, admission or jobs.

The problem with all this advice is that it is very one-sided. Very few posts would mention email communication from the other side: a professor, a hiring manager, a fund administrator etc. Many of these posts perhaps assume that these people do not need to be aware of any etiquette or that they can get away with anything since there are in a position of authority to accept or reject. They assume that most people need help because they are “seeking something”. So seekers need to be advised while those who, let’s just say “disburse” need no advice! This is really one-sided thinking and half-thought approach to understanding email etiquette.

Those who “disburse” are also equally in need. However, very little focus is given to this subject, perhaps because the thought is clouded by the idea of authority. One example of this is the countless email I keep receiving from a few companies asking me to help them find a recruit by telling my friends! On  the other hand, if you have ever tried communicating with the HR department of such companies as a prospective candidate, you would know that it is not all good on that side as well! Of course, I have the freedom to opt out of receiving such emails but that does not take away the hilarity and the irony evident in such hiring practices!

I do receive a lot of emails from students wanting to intern in my research group and often I find that they have done no research on my background or interests. I mostly do not reply to such emails because they show a lack of sincerity. Sometimes, I do reply advising the candidate on how to approach someone. A company, on the other hand, can be regarded as mostly faceless. So, I do not reply to them even when I know someone in that company. It is unfortunate that the dictum “easy to preach and hard to practice” is so common.

Many people and organizations do not seem to understand that communication is a two-way thing, that engagement with clients, prospective employees etc. requires effort and well thought mails, flyers, emails etc. Acting like a king who announces his desire and expects the peasantry to oblige passively is marvelously not a good management practice.

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