Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Work emails: Judgement required

From a formal “Dear” line and asking about your weekend, to one-word messages and emojis, to swear words and jokes that toe the line into being NSFW. There are many different approaches to how people write emails at work.

A friend and former colleague, Amanda, recently sent me a hilarious video from CBC’s TV show, Baroness von Sketch, on the topic of work emails. It’s a tongue-in-check look at how people can interpret emails differently. View it here or click on the following image:

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The manager in this video is at one end of the spectrum when it comes to email etiquette. She is informal and unprofessional in emails, and expects staff to act similarly. Although her unprofessionalism is taken to the extreme because it’s *~hilarious~* in the sketch, it’s also relevant for work emails in the real world.

“There’s nothing wrong with throwing in an ‘exclamaysh’… It lets people know that you’re not gonna skin us alive.” – Baroness von Sketch.

Let’s think about what a real professional work email looks like. In my opinion, it includes a clear subject line, a greeting (such as “Hi Mary,”), short sentences and concise writing, one exclamation mark at the most if required, a clear request or action item, finished with your name and email signature. Don’t forget to proofread. Pretty simple!

As a general rule-of-thumb, being professional (or “profesh”) in emails is important. Why?

  • You may know the person you’re sending an email to, but others CC’d on an email thread – either immediately or in the future – may not know you as well and may not interpret an unprofessional tone in a favourable manner.
  • An attempt to be informal or to make a joke could be risky, because emails lack the nonverbal cues that often make jokes land as intended.
  • An email may be filed for future reference. It would be unfortunate to have an unprofessional email as part of a thread that’s in an official record.
  • Whether you’re starting out in your career or are a seasoned veteran in an industry, email is a tool that helps communicate the type of person you are and your work style. Using a professional tone communicates that you’re polished, dedicated to quality and serious about your career.

That said, know your audience. If you’re emailing a close contact at work, it could be appropriate to include something lighthearted and funny in your email – just make sure it’s suitable for work, and that the recipient will interpret it clearly. Showing your personality is an important part of fostering positive interpersonal relationships with colleagues.

What guidelines do you use for work emails? Please share in the comments.

Thanks again to Amanda for inspiring this post!

Image credits:;

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

How do I keep it professional on “Casual Friday”?

When you’re working on weekdays, Fridays are awesome. If your office has a “Casual Friday” policy, Fridays can be even better. But the words “can be” are key here. If you’re not careful about your “Casual Friday” look, you may come across as someone who is less professional than he or she truly is.

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind as you plan your “Casual Friday” outfit is to ask yourself if you’d still consider it appropriate if you had to attend a last-minute meeting with a client, company president or CEO.

What to Wear:

Today is “Casual Friday” at my office, so check out some of my colleagues’ looks that reflect the more casual nature of the day, and also demonstrate the professionalism required for an office setting.


I love Renel’s look, above, as the desert-inspired palette of her outfit reflects our hot July weather. Her blazer is a neutral colour, adding both professionalism and visual interest to her look. Also, her woven shoes are an interesting take on a more traditional flat, and are completely office-appropriate. Our office is jeans-friendly on Fridays, and if a client were to pop by, Renel could easily roll down her pants and shine in a last-minute meeting.


Lisa’s look, above, is another great way to wear jeans on “Casual Friday”. Dark denim exudes sophistication and can easily be dressed up. She’s wearing a classic black blazer to keep the look professional. Her bright teal pumps would be appropriate in any meeting, and they give a nod to her fun personality.


It’s a hot day in July, so I’m wearing a multi-coloured shift dress that’s versatile enough for the office (above). Summer dresses can be tricky, as many dresses can cross the line into being unprofessional if they’re too tight, too short or if the straps are too thin. To mix it up and add a casual flare, I’m wearing beige booties rather than pumps. Should a client drop by or if the president wanted to meet, I can easily put on the black blazer I have hanging by my desk to transition my outfit to a boardroom setting.

What not to wear

Things like racer-back tanks, ripped jeans and flip-flops are generally frowned upon in any office. However, it can be tempting to let these items creep into your “Casual Friday” office wear rotation if others are sporting them. It’s important to remember that you’re still responsible for your own career, and a professional look at all times is greatly appreciated by company leadership.

What are your tips for dressing professionally on “Casual Friday?” Share in the comments.

Image credits:; Laine Jaremey.