Did you know that the average person sends approximately 34 emails and receives about 120 emails per day (Wall Street Journal, 2016)? As recruiters, there are probably days where you easily exceed those numbers.
Not surprisingly, there is a lot of content out there on email best practices. While all of the content is highly valuable, I wanted to go back to basics for this blog post and focus on best practices for building an effective email signature.
You may be asking yourself, “Why email signatures? Do they really matter?” The truth is they really do. They are the last thing a candidate sees when reading your email and can either support your branding or leave a bad impression. As a third party recruiter, who is not only representing your agency but also the company you represent, it’s more important that you have nailed down your email signature in your external communications.
How much time should I spend building my email signature?
In my experience, there are usually two approaches businesses take when it comes to creating an email signature. There are some teams who will spend days designing and editing multiple templates until they find the perfect combination of font, color, line spacing, images, etc. Then, there are those who add their basic contact information and are sending emails less than a minute later.
While email signatures are purely subjective, I tend to lean towards the less is more approach. After designing email signatures for each of my past employers, including several redesigns for rebranding efforts, I have tried it all, and I only have one regret. I wish I spent more time sending emails than tweaking signatures.
Avoid falling into the same trap that I did. To help you get started, I compiled a list of best practices to help you design your email signature in less than 15 minutes. If it’s taking you longer than that, you may be overthinking the process.
Keep It Short
I have noticed an interesting trend when it comes to email signatures. Perhaps, you have seen it too. They seem to be getting longer. Like, really long. I have even seen a few that are longer than the body of the email itself. If your email signature takes up half a page, it’s too long.
Remember, email signatures are meant to tell the recipient who you are and how to get in contact with you. That’s it. All of this can be accomplished in less than 5 lines. If you don’t think you can share the required information in that space constraint, I challenge you to look at your signature again. I’m 100% certain, there is something you can remove.
Stick to Basic Contact Info
There is a lot of contact information you can share, and it may be tempting to include everything. However, it’s unlikely that your recipient will read all of that information, let alone need it. Instead, stick to the basics — name, title, company name, and primary phone number.
But what about your email address? Well, I would argue it’s not important. Here’s why. If someone needs to reply to your email, they can press reply. If they can get your email address with a simple click of the button, why dedicate space to duplicating the information in your signature?
Please say no to images. I know it’s tempting to include them. It pains me to admit this, but I spent years trying to find new ways to incorporate images into my email signature. What I learned is that aside from making my email slightly more visually interesting, images don’t add any value.
From low resolution to poor placement, there is a lot that can go wrong. The biggest issue is getting images to display properly. Most email clients, including Gmail and Outlook, do not display images by default and require the recipient’s permission before rendering the image. Any effort that went into adding and formatting the image is immediately wasted and leaves your email signature looking worse than if you just excluded it in the first place.
If you can’t resist the urge to have an image, like say a logo, make sure you use a web developer to write you a custom HTML signature so that the image displays properly. Simply, copying and pasting is not enough to achieve the desired result.
One Color & One Font
Everything about email signatures goes back to simplicity. You want the recipient to easily digest all relevant information without leaving a bad taste in their mouth. Multiple colors and multiple fonts scream unprofessional. When your job is to build long lasting professional relationships, the last thing you want to be remembered for is an over-the-top email signature.
Don’t Use Custom Fonts
Chances are your marketing team created a brand guide that includes a standard brand font. At my last company, our brand font was Gotham Thin. Why is that important? Like Gotham Thin, most companies choose specialty fonts. However, these specialty fonts are not supported on the majority of platforms unless the user or application has specifically installed it.
When it comes to email signatures, skip your brand font and opt for a standard font like Arial or Calibri that you know will display properly on the recipient’s screen.
Linking to Social
If your agency or firm is active on social media, you probably want to display links to these profiles in your email signature. Before you do, let’s step back and take a moment to see if they are actually needed. Here are a few questions for you. How frequently does your company post on social? What types of content does your company post? Is the content posted relevant to candidates or clients?
If your agency posts less than twice a month and/or only post links to job boards, leave the social media icons out of your signature. Why? Posting less than twice a month shows your brand is disengaged and links to job boards does little to nurture client and candidate relationships. If however, your agency is posting useful content such as hiring best practices or tips to ace the interview, then go ahead and include links to social profiles in your email signature.
Test Your Signature
Emails almost never look the same across different email apps and devices. When you design your email signature, you want to make sure that your email signature will always display the same.
When designing your signature, send test emails to several different accounts and view them across different devices to make your sure your email displays as you intended. If it doesn’t go back and edit your signature until it does. If you are using images, solicit the help of a Web Developer or someone with HTML/CSS knowledge to make sure your signature always displays properly.
Email signatures won’t make or break your brand but should be given some thought. Remember, the more complexity you add, the more likely you will run into issues. So keep it simple.
For consistency, design a template that will be shared across your team. Stick to a few lines of text with only the needed information. Once you have the core of your signature nailed down, individuals can make minor changes or additions to reflect their role within your team. Whatever you do, don’t spend so much time designing your signature that you aren’t actively recruiting.