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Career Damaging Email Blunders to Avoid

December 2, 2014 By John White | 4 Comments

Email remains an essential piece to corporate communications. At some point in time, everyone has been a part of a damaging email blunder. Consider this article I wrote a while back about this brand damaging email the Colorado Rockies CEO sent to a fan where he basically told the fan to never come back. The email went viral and made national news.

Mine came when I was on an account team for a very large high profile national account that several of us were managing.

The contact that we dealt with for the client was very hard to deal with, was rude much of the time, and extremely demanding. One day we received an email from the client with some pretty demanding requests. Our team lead sent out an email that was only meant for our internal team. However, the team lead forgot to remove the customer. A minute later there was a frantic attempt to recall the email. TOO LATE. It had gone out to the customer. The email read:

“The wicked witch of the west is back on her broomstick. Which one of you wants to respond?”



There were three very negative outcomes that resulted from that email.

1) The employee that sent the email was terminated.

2) The customer moved thousands of dollars of their business to a competitor.

3) There was substantial damage done to our brand.

Here are a few tips of “do’s and don’ts” to help you avoid these types of career damaging emails.

Do: Only reply to all when necessary.Remove those on the thread that do not pertain to your response. Most people feel they get enough email as it is. So, sending them unwanted mail will only annoy them.

Do Not: Reply to all every single time you receive an email with multiple people on the thread.

Do: Be professional in your communications. Use good grammar and choose your words carefully. If writing is not one of your strong points, consider typing it in Word first, and then copying and pasting it into an email. Words’ spell check and built in grammar help will alleviate most errors.

Do Not: Send poorly written emails. It makes you look unprofessional, uneducated, and gives off the impression that you do not care.

Do: Respond within 24 hours or sooner even if you don’t have an answer right away. At least let the sender know that you have received their message, and set an expectation for a follow up.

Do Not: Take days, weeks, months to RESPOND!

Do: Send email when you are in a good frame of mind.

Do Not: Send email when you are mad! Wait a while until cooler heads prevail before firing off any potential “zingers.”

Do: Send email at appropriate times of the day.

Do Not: Send email late at night or after you have been drinking. For obvious reasons this can be a complete train wreck. I have seen it happen!

Do: Be very careful when replying from your mobile. The auto correct feature can be a killer, and lead to some real embarrassing emails.

Do Not: Send email without first reading it over a few times. Especially when sending from your smart device.

Now I’d love to hear your email blunder stories from your career. I am sure there must be some good ones out there! Please also feel free to share your thoughts on corporate email etiquette.

About the Author: John White is the Social Marketing Director at Career Toolbox USA, a proud dad, MBA candidate, sales and marketing expert, and influential blogger.

Follow John @juanblanco76 & @CareerToolboxUS

CareerToolbox International, LLC

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Comments (4)

  1. I think we should discuss “the reply all” blunder more…lol.

  2. Paul Trowbridge says:

    I had a friend who was in the habit of heavy drinking, then doing emails at 3am. He had an even more unflattering response to the companies largest account, with that account on the reply all. He did not survive that mistake.
    I think reply all is very dangerous, and used much too often.

  3. dan says:

    Spell check helps … even in your blog: “The customer moved thousand [sic] of dollars” ?

    1. John White says:

      Dan: Great catch, thanks.

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