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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

40 Templates to Help You Handle Your Toughest Work Emails

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We don’t need to tell you how draining and difficult email can be. Forget about just digging through your inbox—sometimes you need to write professional email and you have no clue where to start. 

To help you craft those tough messages, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite templates.

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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!

Email templates you’ll need for your job search

Why search on your own when you could have a whole crew of contacts keeping an eye out for opportunities, too? You can help 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 found a job opening at your dream company—and then noticed a friend is connected to someone who works there. Asking them to make an intro 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 need to write a thank you note after 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.

4. 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 to show the company how you can help them before you’re even offered the job. With this approach, the hiring manager will have a hard time not bringing you on board.

5. You applied to a job a week or two ago—and want to check in

Haven’t heard a peep? 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.

6. You need to respond to a recruiter—no matter where you are in your search

Getting an email from a recruiter can spark a reaction anywhere from excitement to annoyance to complete and utter confusion (if they’re saying, for instance, that you’d be perfect for an open accounting role when you’ve had a long career in nursing). But as long as the recruiter is somewhere near hitting the mark, you may want to respond—regardless of your current job search status.

7. You want to decline a job interview

Maybe you’re no longer job searching or perhaps you’ve learned something about the job that turned you off of it. These templates will help you politely decline an interview regardless of your reason.

8. You’ve been rejected

When you’ve just been rejected for a job—possibly after multiple rounds of interviews, skills assessments, and more than a little daydreaming about your new gig—sending a gracious email might feel a little painful. But this template will take some of the sting out of it.

9. You want to negotiate an offer

To be clear, negotiations typically take place over the phone (and should be confirmed in writing). But you’ll need to send an email to start that conversation.

10. You need to withdraw from a hiring process

Sometimes you’ll have to pull out of consideration for a position. It happens. But don’t just ghost. Here’s some language you can use.

Email templates you’ll need when you’re changing jobs

You’ve given your two weeks notice and you’re writing your transition doc, tying up all the loose ends you can think of, and clearing those broken headphones and old fast food receipts out of your desk. But you also need to say goodbye to the people you’ve worked with. These templates have got you covered—for every type of workplace relationship.

12. You want to make a great impression on your future boss

After you’ve officially accepted a job offer, you’ll probably have at least a few days or weeks before your start date. Send this email to your new manager to show you’re excited and eager to get up to speed ahead of time.

13. You’ve just started a new job

Being the new kid in class is tough—and so is being the new fully grown adult at work! These templates will help you make all the necessary introductions so you can focus on getting to work (and figure out where the bathrooms are).

Email templates for common in-office issues

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. Here’s how you can punt it back to the sender nicely to ask for clarification.

15. 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. These short-and-sweet templates will make it much, much easier.

16. You need to say no to someone you really want to help

Saying no is especially hard when it’s someone you really want to help—a friend, a close colleague, or someone who’s given you support in the past—but you just don’t have the bandwidth. Use this template to  let them down in the most caring way possible.

17. You need help figuring out what’s most important—and urgent

You received an email full of action items, questions, thoughts, comments, tasks—the list goes on and on. At the end of it, you feel like you’re being pushed and pulled in countless directions. Responding to it all would take you forever. So what actually needs to be done, like, right now? 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.

18. You need more info

Someone asks you a question out of the blue, but you have no idea what they’re talking about. Or maybe you have a sense, but know you need more details to give them the best answer. Quickly email the sender back asking for context or the specific details you need.

19. 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 their feelings, but by doing so you’ll make everyone’s lives easier. Choose your words wisely and use phrases that remind your colleague that you’re in this together.

20. 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.”

21. You need to tell someone something they won’t like

Here’s how to deliver unwelcome news or tough feedback with less stress on your end. This template will help you frame your message in a constructive rather than destructive way.

22. You need to ask your boss for help

Everyone needs help sometimes, but that doesn’t make asking any easier. If you’ve already tried to solve the issue yourself, this template is the next step.

23. You realize you can’t get everything done on time

If you’re feeling like you’re being crushed by your to-do list, contemplating running away to live off the land, Googling if there’s any promising research on time travel going on, or just realizing that there aren’t enough hours in the work day to finish everything on your plate, it might be time to send an email. Here are a few templates to help you out.

24. You need to tell your clients you (or your company) messed up

How you tell your clients or customers about a crisis, problem, or delay can make or break your relationship with them. Deliver your message (and solve the issue) well and you could earn their trust and loyalty for years to come. Fumble it and you might lose their business. But don’t stress too much. These templates (and scripts) will help get the message out fast—so you can spend more time on the solution.

25. You’re late

This is an in-office email template for when you’re not quite in the office and need to give someone a heads up.

Email templates for maintaining your work-life balance

Try one one of these if…

26. Your boss keeps emailing you at night

You know your work-life balance is important and you need to be able to unwind and spend time on your personal life after the day ends. But telling your boss that can still be intimidating. So we took care of writing the email for you. Now you just need to plug in your info and hit send.

27. Your boss isn’t respecting your PTO

You figured out who was covering you if needed and you know anything else can wait until you’re back. It’s OK to disconnect completely. We give you permission. And we’ve got templates for both before and during your vacation so you can focus on something besides work.

28. You need to miss a few hours (or more) of work

Life happens. Sometimes during business hours. Here’s how to keep your boss in the loop.

29. You’re about to leave your inbox unattended

When you’re taking scheduled time off, the last thing you need is anxiety over your inbox. By using one of these templates to set an out-of-office (OOO) message, you can fully disconnect knowing that you’re setting expectations for when you’ll respond and not leaving anyone in the dark. Or if you’re taking time off for a holiday, you can use one of these more festive OOO templates.

30. You’re sick and need an OOO message

You’ve already emailed your boss to tell them you’ll be out sick, but before you turn over and go back to sleep, consider using one of these templates to set an OOO reply. That way, you can get the rest you need without stressing about what’s going on in your inbox.

Email templates for when you’re the one doing the hiring

You might need these if…

31. You’re inviting a candidate in for an interview

Whether you’re interviewing someone for the first time or do this on the reg and are just tired of writing the email from scratch over and over again, we’ve got the perfect template for inviting a candidate in for an interview—full of all the details they need to know.

32. You’re offering a candidate a job

You’ve interviewed someone who crushed it, and you’re excited to invite them to join the team! Use this easy template to get that offer out the door ASAP.

33. You’re reaching out to a new hire even before they start

All the t’s have been crossed and the i’s have been dotted and you have an awesome new employee coming to work for you. Let them know how excited you and your team are with this note.

34. You’re turning a candidate down

Don’t drag this one out. Keep it short and to the point by copying and pasting this template.

Email templates to make networking less awkward

Let these templates work for you when…

35. You need an introduction

You find out a friend or colleague knows somebody you’d also love to know, whether it’s for your career growth, job search, or sales efforts. How can you ask your contact to introduce you—without sounding needy and annoying? This template should do the trick.

36. You want the green light before you make an introduction

You’ve been asked by a colleague to introduce them to a contact and you’re eager to help. But don’t just connect them right away. First, make sure your contact is OK with being introduced, so as not to bug them or make them uncomfortable. Here’s the email to send.

37. 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!

38. You want to get out of an introduction

Let’s say you’re on the other side of the interaction though. Someone has reached out to you to make an introduction without asking you first and you need an out. We’ve got you covered.

39. You want a client to recommend you to others

Have some clients who love you—and hoping they’ll spread the word about how great your products or services are? This email will make it incredibly easy for anyone to help you out.

40. You want to make a new connection (with anyone)

Sometimes, you’ll want to add someone to your network when you don’t have any mutual acquaintances. This template will help you reach out.

Bonus email tips and examples

Have a tough email to send that’s not covered by these templates? Check out some more email advice and examples you can use if:

Regina Borsellino also contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.