Professional Correspondence

Communication is the ability to effectively exchange thoughts and ideas with others through listening, speaking, writing and nonverbal interactions. Well-written and well-conducted professional communications leave a positive impression. Take time to carefully construct and plan all of your professional messages or communications.

Employer Interaction

Presenting yourself in a professional manner is a reflection on your character. For instance, you should have a firm handshake while looking the person in the eye, as it conveys confidence and respect. Practice doing this with everyone you meet, not just in professional settings. Smile often, as this conveys your interest and excitement about the topic, and never forget to say thank you!

Going to dinner with an employer? Remember that they are watching to see how you might interact with a client. Sharpen your table manners to enhance your professionalism and build confidence. Take advantage of Etiquette Dinners when they are offered on campus, so you can practice in a safe and instructive environment.


When you send an email to a prospective employer, network contact, or any faculty or staff member, there are several things you should double and triple check. Follow these easy tips for clear, professional communication:

Email Etiquette

  • Include a salutation: For the first email you send address the recipient in a formal manner such as Ms. Summers or Dr. Jones. If you are unsure of how to address the person, do some research to find out their correct name and title. After they respond, you can address them however they signed their previous email.
  • Provide a clear context and clear purpose: Think twice about the message you are trying to communicate and your goal for the email. Keep the email brief and within a one-page viewable pane.
  • Tone: Write in a positive tone and avoid using negative words, such as those that begin with “un, non, or ex” or end with “less.” Do not use symbols, acronyms (ex. LOL) or emojis. Using contractions will add a friendly tone to your email. 
  • Font: Use a general font, not an overly stylized one that is hard to read. DO NOT USE ALL CAPITALS, as it communicates you are shouting. Use coloring and bolding judiciously and sparingly.
  • Spelling/Punctuation/Grammar/Typos: Your email should be written using complete sentences, correct spelling and grammar, and a clear and organized structure. Double and triple check it before hitting “send.”
  • Email response time: Respond to an email within 24 hours as it shows respect and responsiveness.
  • Use the subject line to communicate your point: Don’t leave this blank. Make sure it is short, clear, and meaningful to the recipient. A blank subject line is unacceptable. 
  • Close with your full name and contact information: Make sure the recipient has a secondary way of contacting you if possible (i.e. your phone number). You should create a basic email signature line that includes your name, major, The University of Texas at Austin, College of Natural Sciences, your phone number and email address. 


Ask yourself if your content is appropriate for email correspondence? Answer this question and edit, edit, edit your email before you hit send. Once you hit send, your email can potentially be viewable by anyone, so make sure you are proud of the content and how it represents you.    

Networking Emails

Networking emails can be used to reach out to professionals in your desired field to make a connection from a mutual contact, request a career conversation (informational interview) or inquire about a learning opportunity. We recommend not attaching a resume to the first email, as the purpose is not to inquire about job prospects. You can always follow up with a resume later on. In your email, make sure to: 

  • Introduce yourself and indicate if you have a mutual connection to that person
  • Propose the topic of the requested meeting
  • Give the person some background information about your education and experience

Networking Email Template/Example:

Dear [name of person you’re asking, using their preferred title],

Kelly Brooks suggested that I reach out to you. I am a third-year student at The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Biology. I am interested in pursuing a career in XYZ. Kelly has spoken very highly of you and suggested that you may be able to offer me some additional insight into the XYZ industry.           

I am currently trying to learn more about the professional careers in the field of Biology and (recipient’s specific career) is of interest to me. I would like to chat with you to discuss your career path so that I can figure out what experience I should get during my last year at UT. As I know you are busy and have limited availability, I am hoping for no more than 30 minutes of your time. I am available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11am to 2pm to talk via phone, zoom or in-person. Please let me know which option would be most convenient for you. I look forward to meeting you.

Thank you,

[Your name]

Thank You Notes

This is an opportunity to stand out from other candidates that may neglect to thank their interviewers and the recruiter. It is also an opportunity to reiterate your interest in the role and how your experience makes you a good fit.

  • Address your email to the person that you met with
  • Express appreciation for the opportunity and mention something unique about your interview to personalize the note
  • Add any important information about yourself that was left out in the interview or that was requested by your interviewer
  • Thank you letters sent via email are acceptable as long as they are professional
  • Send your thank you note within 24-48 hours after the meeting or interview
  • Keep the email brief and easy to read
  • If you only have the email of your recruiter and not your interviewers, send the email to your recruiter and ask that they pass it along 

Thank You Email Template/Example:

Dear [name of person you’re asking, using their preferred title],

Thank you for meeting with me yesterday to discuss the Research Assistant position in the Chemistry Department at The University of Texas. I enjoyed learning about the challenging work opportunities and professional development that the Research Assistant role entails. I especially appreciated your story about your first time working in a lab. 

As we discussed yesterday, my past experience working in chemistry labs and academic research as an undergraduate distinguishes me as a candidate for this position. After learning more about the Research Assistant position, I am confident that my leadership experience, paired with my commitment to becoming a valuable asset to your team, would make me an excellent fit. 

I am interested in continuing through the interview process and look forward to hearing from you about the next step in the process. Thank you again for your time and consideration.


[Your name]

Letters of Recommendation

Typically, you will need 2-3 letters of recommendation when applying to graduate school, fellowships, scholarships or academic programs. Use professional references, including present or past faculty, supervisors or other academic references. Professors you worked with closely will be able to write the strongest letters for you. Start building relationships early in your college career!

  • Many students are nervous to ask their professors to write them letters of recommendation, thinking that it is a burden. This is not true! Professors have built their careers on letters from other people and most are happy to pay it forward to the next generation.
  • You can start the conversation through email or by going to the professor’s office hours.
  • Remember to give your letter writers at least 4 weeks to write your letter as it can be a time-consuming process.
  • These letters should be as personalized as possible. Choose your references wisely. Sometimes it is helpful to discuss with a coach how to ask for Letters of Recommendation. You can schedule an appointment with our coaches for help.

Letter of Recommendation Request Email Template

Subject line: [Your name] - letter of recommendation

Dear [name of person you’re asking, using their preferred title],

I am writing to ask if you will provide a strong, positive letter of recommendation for me as I apply to [school or program or company and role].

Since my application is due [date], your recommendation needs to be submitted no later than [date needed]. If this timing is not feasible or if you’d rather not write a recommendation, I’d appreciate it if you could let me know as soon as possible so I may reach out to someone else.

[Write a sentence or two talking about your relationship with the person you’re writing and mentioning any details you think they may want to address in your recommendation.]

Example: I learned so much working with you on the [project name] project and I think you know me well enough to provide insight into my experience.

Thank you very much for considering my request. I have attached a copy of my [resume and/or personal statement] for your review. I will send you additional details and instructions for submission if you respond that you are able to write me a letter.

If you have any questions or need any further information from me, please let me know.


[Your name]

Offer Deadline and Salary Negotiation

Sometimes, we need more time to consider the offer we were given and need some assistance with figuring out what to write in an email. These email templates are meant to serve as a starting off point to tailoring your own email asking for an offer deadline extension request or to start the salary negotiation process.

  • Make sure to be clear and formal
  • It’s important you know exactly how much value you can offer an employer before you begin the process of negotiating a salary. Take things such as geographical location, career level, education level and skills into account!

Offer Negotiation Email Templates

Look at the different templates available to see which one suits your situation the best:

Offer Deadline and Salary Negotiation Email Templates

Final Note

There are many more forms of written communication that you will likely come across, but they all follow similar best practices. Always make sure to know the context of the professional setting you are walking into and double-check!

Need Help Crafting an Email?

Make an Appointment with a CNS Career Coach