27 Pre-Written Templates for Your Toughest Work Emails
Communication is hard work. A 2012 survey by McKinsey found that highly skilled desk workers spent an average of 28% of their work weeks dealing with email—a number that is surely rising. And that doesn’t even take into account the stress involved in figuring out how to convey a potentially difficult message, like asking for help, saying no, or admitting you messed up.
To help make the most of your time and energy, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite scripts and templates for making email (and a few other things, like that pesky LinkedIn recommendation you need to write) much easier and less time consuming. Whether you’re job searching, networking, dealing with day-to-day work communications, or trying to be a better manager, find your situation below, tweak the template to your liking, and send it off!
1. You Need Your Network’s Help Finding a Job
Reaching out to your current network and letting them know you’re on the hunt is a surefire way to make your job search easier: Why search on your own when you could have a whole army of contacts keeping an eye out for opportunities, too? But, to make it more likely that they will help you, make it as easy as possible for them by sending an email like this.
2. You Need a Referral at Your Dream Company
You’ve applied to a job at your dream company—and then noticed a friend is connected to someone there. Asking him or her to connect you and vouch for you can feel weird, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to do it the right way.
3. You Want to Write the Perfect Cover Letter to Strut Your Skills
Your cover letter shouldn’t just walk through your job history (that’s your resume’s job). Highlighting your skills can be a great way to mix things up or show why you’d be an ideal candidate if you have a less traditional path. Try filling in this template, and see how impressive you sound.
4. You Need to Write a Thank You Note for an Interview
Especially if you’re interviewing a lot, there’s no need to fret over each individual thank you note. For a basic note that gets the job done, start with this template, tweak it slightly for each company and role, and send it off by EOD after you’ve interviewed.
5. You Want to Send a Thank You Note That Really Goes Above and Beyond
If you just interviewed for your absolute dream job, you may want to go a bit beyond the basic thank you note. Check out this template for an idea of how you can add value to the company before you’re even offered the job. With this approach, the hiring manager will have a hard time not bringing you on board.
6. You Applied to a Job a Week or Two Ago—and Want to Check In
Haven’t heard back from your dream job? If you’ve been holding your breath for a few weeks, it doesn’t hurt to send a short, professional follow-up email, like this one.
7. You Need to Turn Down a Job Offer
You interviewed, you’ve been given an offer—but you’ve decided you need to turn it down. Keep your message appreciative, give a brief explanation why, and make sure to keep the door open. These ideas should help craft your message.
In the Office
8. You Don’t Really Know What the Sender is Asking For
You know the email: There are a lot of words, but nothing is really said, and you’re left wondering what the other person wants from you. It can seem like a tricky situation, but the solution is actually pretty simple: Punt it back to the sender nicely to ask for clarification.
9. You Need to Say “No” to Something
Even if we need to do it (or really want to do it), we all have a hard time saying “no.” No matter the situation, these short and sweet scripts will make it much, much easier.
10. You Need to Say “No” to Someone You Really Want to Help
Saying “no” is especially hard when it’s someone really want to help, you just don’t have the bandwidth: a friend, a close colleague, or someone who has given you support in the past. Use this template to make it easier and to let him or her down in the most caring way possible.
11. You Receive a Complicated Laundry List of Thoughts, Ideas, and Tasks
This email is one full of action items, questions, thoughts, comments, tasks—the list goes on and on. It would take you forever just to weed through the message, let alone do the work. Your response will be a little different depending on if this is a boss or a colleague, but either way, you’ll need to ask for some help prioritizing.
12. You Need More Information to Answer
Someone asks you a question out of the blue, and you have no idea what he or she is talking about. Or you have a sense, but know you need a little more information to answer well. Quickly email the sender back asking for context or the specific details you need.
13. Your Colleague is Making a Project Too Difficult
Are you working with someone who is making something much (much) more difficult than it needs to be? It can be hard to suggest a better way without hurting somebody’s feelings, but by doing so you’re making everyone’s lives easier. Simply choose your words wisely and use phrases that remind your colleague that you’re working together collaboratively on this.
14. You’ve Got a Workplace Conflict—and You Need to Tell Your Boss
Obviously, running to your boss shouldn’t be the first thing you do when you’re having problems with one of your co-workers; try working it out on your own first, before enlisting the higher-ups. But if the situation keeps coming up, it’s okay to go talk to your manager—as long as you follow this script to do it without sounding like you’re whining.
15. You Need to Turn Down a Project
If you’ve been asked to do a project you really don’t want to do, you want to write a little more than “absolutely not” back. Whether it’s not part of your job or you just don’t think it’s worth your time, start with these scripts to nicely say “no.”
16. You’re Quitting Your Job
Writing a resignation letter can be scary to say the least, but with this easy template you’ll have a great letter written and be out the door in no time.
17. You’re Inviting a Candidate in for an Interview
Whether you are interviewing someone for the first time or do this on the reg and are just tired of writing the email, we’ve got the perfect template for inviting a candidate in for an interview—full of all the details he or she needs to know.
18. You’re Offering a Candidate a Job
You’ve interviewed someone who killed it, and you’re excited to invite him or her to the team! Use this easy template to get that offer out the door ASAP.
19. You’re Turning a Candidate Down
This one can be tough, but the trick is to keep it short and to the point. Copying and pasting this template should make the job much easier.
20. You Messed Up—and Need to Tell Your Customers
Delivering the news about a crisis or problem to your customers or clients can be hard, but it gives you the chance to show that you’re on top of it and working on the issue. This script should help get the message out fast—so you can spend more time fixing the problem.
21. You Need to Write a LinkedIn Recommendation—Fast
Don’t hem and haw when you’ve been asked to write a recommendation for someone on LinkedIn. Fill in the blanks of this template, and you’ll have a stand-out recommendation done in less than five minutes.
22. You Need an Introduction
You find out a friend or colleague knows somebody who would be perfect for you to know, whether it’s for your career growth, your job search, or your sales efforts. How can you ask your contact to introduce you—without sounding needy and annoying? This template should do the trick.
23. You’ve Been Asked to Make an Introduction
If you’ve been asked by a colleague to introduce him or her to a contact. But you don’t just want to connect them right away—you want to make sure your contact is okay with being introduced, so as not to annoy him or make him uncomfortable. Here’s the email to send to get the OK.
24. You’re Actually Making the Introduction
All is said and done, and your contact is happy to be introduced to your friend. Great! Use this short template to briefly remind each person why you’re introducing them, and then get this out of your hands!
25. You Need to Explain What You Do
Whether in person at a networking event or over email with a new contact, it can be tricky to explain exactly what you do in a way that’s not totally boring. Hint: Don’t just tell your job title. Then look at this template to make your elevator pitch more memorable.
26. You Want a Client to Recommend You to Others
Have some clients who love you—and hoping they will spread the word about how great your products or services are? This email will make it incredibly easy for anyone to help you out.
27. You Have Way Too Many People Asking to “Pick Your Brain”
Don’t have time to answer all the emails asking for informational interviews, let alone actually going on them? Here are some strategies for making it work—or turning them down—with easy-to-email scripts for each.
Photo of person typing courtesy of Shutterstock.
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