The 5 best and 5 worst ways to begin and end an email (now with actual research!)
There was a Bloomberg story circulating on social media recently about the best and worst way to end your emails.
The main takeaway was that everyone hates the sign off “best,” while another key point was that “sincerely” is just fake, and the author concluded that you shouldn’t use any sign off at all. No, “sincerely,” “cheers,” or “best regards.” Nothing.
The whole thing seemed weird to me, particularly the last suggestion, which is terrible advice for anyone corresponding with people they don’t know very well. Sure, it might be fine to forgo the sign off when chatting with your bestie or your dad via email, but I hope you wouldn’t make that mistake when talking with a higher up or potential employer.
I decided to survey hiring managers on how they prefer job seekers to begin and end an email.
It turns out that “sincerely” is not only an acceptable sign off when job seeking, it’s the most preferred greeting among hiring managers.
Another key finding is that “best” is indeed a bad way to sign off – so they’re right about that (note to self: stop using “best). “Cheers” is worse though.
And when it comes to greetings, don’t use “hey” or “hi.” Go with “hello” or “dear.”
I asked 160 hiring managers:
What is your preferred way for a job candidate to begin a written communication?
Hello – 40.76%
Dear – 32.48%
Hi – 19.11%
To – 6.37%
Hey – 1.27%
Write in responses included “Good morning/afternoon.” (The problem I see with this is you don’t know what time of day the person is going to read it.)
What is your preferred way for a job candidate to end a written communication?
Sincerely – 46.62%
Regards – 31.76%
Best regards – 18.24%
Best – 2.03%
Cheers – 1.35%
Write in responses included variations upon “Thank you.” (I guess I assumed you would say “thank you” before your sign off.)
Interesting. I wouldn’t have believed “best” was that bad if I hadn’t done the survey myself. I think it was probably fine at one point but everyone uses it now and ubiquity, like familiarity, breeds contempt.
The lesson here? When it comes to the job search, err, as I have always said, on the side of formality. And don’t listen to Bloomberg.
Unless they’re telling you not to use “best,” in which case you should listen.
Thank you so much.