Professional Communication

Communication is an important skill to master as you're navigating your search for opportunities. You want to make sure that you're following communication standards and sharing your ideas as thoughtfully as possible.

Communicating as a Professional

  1. 1

    Start Communication Formally

    When you are emailing or talking with someone for the first time, use formal titles like “Ms. Smith or Mr. Jones” and then let the other person set the tone for future conversations and correspondence. If they sign their email with their first name, then you can begin addressing them by their first name rather than their formal title.

  2. 2

    Response Time

    Reply to emails 24-48 hours after they were sent with the exception of weekend messages. If a message is sent right before or during the weekend, reply by the end of the next business day. If you received the message over a week ago and haven’t replied, make sure to apologize for the delay in response in the reply email.

  3. 3

    Email Subject Lines

    Limit your email subjects to three or four word summaries that give a clear picture about the content of the message. Always include a subject for emails and avoid using ALL CAPS in a subject line or in the message of the email. Examples of email subjects Include: “Internship Offer Decision” or “Question About Offer Letter”.

  4. 4

    Be Mindful of Tone

    Communicating tone in email can be particularly difficult, so pay special attention to the words used to convey information. Sometimes trying to be direct by saying, “It’s been five days since my interview and I haven’t heard anything back. Can you tell me whether I got the job or not?” can appear very rude and demanding to the person reading your message. Instead you might write, “I enjoyed meeting you at my interview last week. I was wondering if you could give me an update on the status of my application for this internship position.”

  5. 5

    Email Signature

    Having an email signature can add a professional appearance to your email correspondence.

    Amy Johnson
    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 
    Aerospace Engineering | May 2020

Professional Communication Examples

Accepting a Job Offer

Dear Mr. Jackson,

Thank you for selecting me as a candidate for the Structural Engineer position at XYZ Company. I am pleased to inform you that I am accepting this position and excited for my start date. Thank you again for the opportunity, I am eager to make a positive contribution to the organization. Please let me know if there is any additional information or paperwork you need.

Best,

Your Name

Declining a Job Offer

Dear Mr. Franklin,

I appreciate you and your team taking the time to meet with me to discuss the opportunity for employment within the Research and Development Team. After careful thought and consideration, I decided to accept another position that was a better fit for me at this time. However, I remain very interested in your company and the work that you do and would welcome the potential for future opportunities.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Your Name

Requesting an Offer Deadline Extension

Dear Ms. Arnold,

Thank you for offering me a position as an Electrical Engineering intern for this summer. I enjoyed meeting with the team at XYZ Company and really appreciate your emphasis on continual learning. I would like to request an extension for my offer deadline of October 15. After talking with Engineering Career Services, I’ve learned that my university recommends students are given three weeks in order to fully consider an offer and make an informed decision. The university guidelines are listed here: https://ecs.engineering.illinois.edu/career-resources/offer-guidelines/. Would you be able to adhere to my university’s offer deadline guidelines?

Thank you for your consideration of my request.

Sincerely,

Your Name