Voice Mail & E-mail Etiquette

The onset of technology has changed the way we do business but some common sense rules still apply when it comes to etiquette. The following tips may be a reminder of what we think in common sense, however could also save you from some embarrassing situations.

General Messaging Etiquette

  • Messages either over voicemail or in an email should be concise and to the point. No one wants to listen or read a long-winded message. In the case of email, if the recipient has to scroll down several pages it is very likely they will file to read later and not get back to your message for days. Keep it short and easy to read.
  • Make sure those you are copying on voice or email, need to be copied. In the case of email, we can find ourselves copying people out of habit. In a time when some people receive dozens of voicemails and hundreds of emails a day, decide whether or not it is necessary before you copy someone.
  • Email is like a conversation, however, unlike a telephone conversation or voicemail, don’t expect a response right away. Don’t assume that once you have sent your email that the recipient has read your message. You need to allow a bit of time for someone to respond.


Salutations and Closings

  • In a business situation, follow your formal salutation. If you address someone by their first name, use this. If not Ms./Mrs./Mr. are acceptable.
  • In a non-business situation, Dear John or just John is appropriate.
  • Sign your email with your name. You may also wish to include your title, name of company, telephone numbers, fax number and website address.

Responding back to email

Consider carrying the history along when you respond back to an email. This helps the recipient trace the history of the message and follow it more clearly.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Keep in mind there is no such thing as private email. In some companies, administrators have the ability to read any and all messages and some actually monitor emails – don’t send anything that may put you in an uncomfortable position should someone other than the intended recipient read your email.

Grammar and other Do’s and Don’ts

  • Avoid excessive punctuation when sending an email – particularly the exclamation point – like good grammar, you don’t need to use six or seven exclamation points to get your point across, one is more than enough!
  • Don’t use upper case type unless you are really emphasizing something – it can come across as shouting.
  • Use the subject line when sending an email. Some people will sort and filter their emails by this subject line.
  • Always check your message for spelling and grammar – more often than not it may be the only thing a person has to go on if they don’t know you well.


  • Speak clearly and slowly and leave your name and telephone number twice if the person doesn’t know you well.
  • State the reason for your call and make your message concise and to the point.
  • Don’t leave a message from a speaker phone. Your message may not come through clearly.
  • Change your outgoing voicemail message daily. Include your name, extension number, the date and what your agenda is for the day (in or out of the office, when returning).

Final Telephone Hints

  • Whether leaving a voicemail message to set up a networking meeting or to follow up on the process of a job vacancy, keep the following tips in mind before making the call.
  • Be prepared – know what you want to achieve – have a pen and paper handy.
  • Smile when you speak and try not to speak too quickly or too slowly, speak clearly.
  • Use your first and last name to introduce yourself. Use the first name of the person you are calling only if they offer, otherwise use Mr. or Ms.
  • Be confident and positive, genuinely interested and enthusiastic.
  • Avoid saying anything negative about your previous employers.
  • If calling from home, remember to turn the TV and radio off and secure yourself away from any obvious distractions or background noise.
  • While job searching, do not have a cute message on your outgoing voicemail message at home, including your kids voices, music in the background, etc. should a potential employer call you to set up an interview.