Microsoft Outlook has been with us for almost two decades and for most of us, email has been a staple of business communication throughout our professional lives. Is it approaching its expiry date?
What email promised was instant textual communication at a time when the only other alternatives were old-fashioned post, fax or courier. It still delivers on this front – it’s just that in a world of instant messaging and connectivity via social media, it’s no longer the medium of choice in many quarters.
So do recruiters still need it? Should an effective email solution still be high on your list of priorities? We take a look.
Communicating with clients
Early stage communications: setting the tone
When a project has just been agreed with a new client, two things are happening: you are attempting to make sure each party is on the same page in terms of the brief – and you are also attempting to build a relationship with your point of contact. Post-meeting follow-ups in which you confirm your next step tend to be rather detailed. Could you really see yourself covering everything in an instant message? You may wish to switch to alternatives once the relationship is better established – especially for quick queries, and there are so many out there. Tools such as Office 365 and Google Docs are helping businesses everywhere with transparency and efficiency – but for now, email is likely to be your most appropriate option.
The benefits of threads
They can seem cumbersome (especially where you have the misfortune to have to print one out) but email threads are an ideal way of tracking who said what and when.
Flagging up urgent matters
Anyone who says that email isn’t as “upfront” as some of the newcomers in the world of digital communications is overlooking an important aspect of it: the subject line. Email gives you the scope to layer information; to provide key directional pointers in the subject line and expand upon this in the main body of the message.
Communicating with candidates
Assessing communication skills
An email is an ideal vehicle for setting out a covering letter and attaching a CV. Does the candidate understand how to communicate in a professional way? This can be much easier to assess in the form of an email than, for example, through an instant message.
Setting out all relevant information
A lot can be happening at once throughout a typical application process. You may, for instance, need to provide a detailed job spec, pre-assessment information and interview instructions. An email gives you space to deal with all of this.
Providing official confirmation
Where important decisions have been made or where terms have been offered, most of us still prefer to ‘see something in writing’. This might not go so far as waiting for confirmation to arrive in the post. Nevertheless, your candidates would still prefer to see something official. Especially where your email solution is appropriately tailored with your organisation’s branding, an email carries this authority in a way that isn’t the same with other digital methods.
The future: mixing and matching
Initial introductions are made increasingly through LinkedIn and other social platforms. Formal matters are handled via email, whereas routine queries are handled through instant messaging. Effective business communication means using different methods depending on what the message is and all the indications are that email will remain an integral part of that mix. In fact, despite the emergence of new platforms, business email usage is expected to soar over the next four years.
So are you getting the most out of this tool? With the very latest version of Outlook for instance, updated functionality such as Inline Replies, a Preview Pane and Quick Action buttons all combine to help to make using email as unobtrusive a process as possible. What’s more, with the cloud-based Office 365, you get access to the latest versions automatically without having to worry about manual updates. You still need email – so make sure you’re making the most of it.