An “A” Player refers to a person who is at the top of their group.
After you finish reading this, you’ll know 5 ways that you can up-level your email communication to present yourself like the “A” Player Americans do.
Whether you’re a healthcare professional or a university student, these 5 tips will dramatically increase the success rate of your email communications.
The risk of not taking action on these 5 tips is that your emails could get lost, you may make an unprofessional (or “not serious”) impression, or, if you’re applying for a job or program, you might get passed over and someone else could get the opportunity or the attention that you want.
The benefits of taking action on these 5 tips are that you’ll come across like the a true American professional, you’ll experience fewer administrative errors (because your documents won’t be lost or misfiled) and strangers who help you (like at educational organizations or national licensing boards) will remember you and be able to help you faster.
All of that means you get a better, easier experience communicating in English and you reach your professional goals.
Without further ado, let’s jump in!
Tip #1: Claim a Gmail address
Gmail is the most professional, serious email platform to use when you’re communicating with licensing boards, potential employers or universities.
Yahoo and Hotmail were both developed in the 1990s. They are associated with technology companies that aren’t obsolete, but they’re not cutting-edge anymore either.
When I was younger, it was super cool to have a “hotmail” address (probably because it had the word “hot” in it ) but today, we’ve outgrown the thrill of putting the word “hot” near our name.
“Yahoo” is actually a word in English that means 1 of 2 things:
- “yahoo” is a sound or expression sound you say when you’re having fun
- “yahoo” is a noun for a person who’s rude and loud
Neither Hotmail nor Yahoo have a professional connotation… whereas “Gmail” is neutral. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s an online debate about why Gmail is “better” than Hotmail.
Using a Gmail account will make you come across the most professionally… plus you can also easily do the tips below.
Tip #2: Claim your legally-correctly-spelled email address
If you aren’t sure, check the spelling on your passport and/or your driver’s license.
The official legal spelling with the English alphabet is what will be on official employment records and in databases for any organization that you coordinate with… and so if your email address matches that spelling perfectly, your life will be much easier.
Spelling of names isn’t the kind of thing you can roll your eyes about and say, “It doesn’t matter.” Miller. Maller. Moller. Meller. Muller. Those are 5 different last names. The spelling matters. A lot.
An email address sounds professional when it does not have any nicknames, numbers or hobby or words in it. So for example, you would want to avoid things like this:
Why should you avoid random words? YOU may see the connection and importance of those words… but strangers who must send you messages have no reason to know why those words are important.
They are working on step 1: Remembering YOUR NAME and connecting whatever data they have about you to that name… So if you throw in an email address with random words, now they have another task on top of the other one.
It is equally important for you to avoid playful or confusing nicknames and weird spelling combinations with your name. Like in this example below, I used just 3 of the 5 letters in my first name, and just 2 of the 6 letters in my last name. For strangers who don’t know me, this is super confusing:
The most professional email address that you can claim for working in America follows these conventions:
Notice that I’m capitalizing the first letters: J and M and the D in “Dr.” Also, I’m not a doctor but a lot of my students are so I’m giving you an example.
Also, you should use capital letters strategically to make your email address look more professional and easily-read.
If neither of those are available, then you can include the initial for your Middle Name like the example below. The “initial” is the first letter of the name. So if someone’s middle name is Emily, the initial is E.
Notice that above, it’s easier to read the email because I use 1 dot between “Jaime” and “E” and also because I capitalize the “E.”
Can you see how much harder it is to understand the same letters when the dot and the capital E disappear? firstname.lastname@example.org
The best email address is one that’s easy for other people to understand!
Appropriately-placed dots and capital letters are both visual tools that help a lot.
Tip #3: Update Your Profile to Match Your Legally-Correctly-Spelled Name
When you set up your profile, you choose what to type in your first and last name.
Use your actual name, not random words:
Use proper capitalization, not lower case letters:
Tip #4: Add a photo of your face to your profile
The special name for a professional photo of your face is “a headshot.”
Personally, I wish that more people added a headshot to their email.
Why? Especially when I’m “meeting” someone over email, seeing a little photo next to their name and email address makes it MUCH EASIER for me to remember and associate more details about them. PLUS, lots of my students have similar-sounding names.
When it comes to choosing a headshot, you want something professional that shows your face.
Cartoons and inanimate objects (like flowers) do not take the place of a headshot. Would you take me seriously if I showed up in your email like the little pink thing on the right?
A real headshot makes it much easier for you to be taken seriously and professionally.
It may seem like a lot of effort to go through to get your family or friends to take a good headshot. It’s 100% worth it! The reason is because whoever you are emailing will remember you — and all of the details about you — much more clearly if you give them an accurate picture to “hang” all those details on.
Put the effort in!
Tip #5: Configure your “Signature”
When we’re discussing email, the term “signature” refers specifically to this little message that is put automatically at the bottom of every email.
An email signature can be short or long.
In the picture below, everything yellow is my “signature”…
You can use your signature to share any of the following useful pieces of information. It’s not necessary to include all of them, but they add personality in a professional way:
- Your correctly-spelled legal name
- How to pronounce your name
- Your degree(s)
- Your phone number. The format of the numbers is another opportunity to be professional so let’s quickly cover how you can (and how you should not) add your phone number.
Traditional: (916) 620-7402
- Where you’re located (City, State and Zip Code)
- Days of the week or hours of the day when people can expect to hear from you. For example, if you work the graveyard shift, it can be very helpful to mention that so people know they won’t hear from you during regular business hours.
- Your Linked In profile (assuming it has no errors)
That may seem like a lot of information, but it can look very clean.
Here’s an example…
About How to Pronounce Your Name
If your name is commonly mispronounced, the best thing you can do is explicitly tell people what it sounds like and how to pronounce it. The email signature is an excellent place to deal with it.
Don’t say, “It doesn’t matter” or “You can pronounce my name however you want.”
I do not feel confident and I do not feel respectful when students give me freedom to make up whatever pronunciation I like.
Tell us how to be the most accurate… This way, your cultural identity is respected and we are close enough to being right that you recognize your own name.
Tip: Use hyphens to break up the syllables in your name. Use all-capital letters on the syllable that gets emphasized or stretched. Here are some examples:
Sounds like “ji-ZEL”
Sounds like “JEY-me”
Sounds like “RUH-sha”
Help people help you!
I put the time and effort into this blog post because I genuinely want your experience communicating with people online to be easier.
That ease comes as a result of you being more memorable and easy-to-locate inside of technology databases (like lists of applicants or contacts in a digital address book).
It may seem time-consuming or annoying to take action on some of the tips I suggested above (especially like changing your email address completely and setting up a new account).
However, I wouldn’t recommend anything to you that I didn’t believe in 100%. By making the changes that I suggest here, you’ll avoid making a confusing first impression (or worse… not making any impression at all because your message gets lost).
You open doors when come across as detail-oriented and embedded in professional US-culture.
If you have any questions, of if you want me to give you feedback on your email signature, send me a message.
The post 5 Tips to Imitate “A” Player Native-Speakers’ Email Communication first appeared on Jaime Miller Advising.