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Ten hints for setting up out of office emails: don’t brag, be overly friendly or forget to say when you’ll be back


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

April 24, 2013 | 3 min read

We’ve looked at

/news/2013/04/10/how-get-job-industry-dont-lol-your-cv-never-sign-xx-or-smiley-and-stay-out-pub-your">what not to do in emails when handing in your CV, but what about when you’ve got a job and are about to go on holiday?

Chris Meredith, CEO of, takes a look at some of the biggest faux-pas when it comes to putting together your out-of-office email.

1. Don’t forget to set one up: Sounds obvious but all of us have probably forgotten to set our out-of-office up before a break at some point or other, only to return to find messages from annoyed contacts who thought we were ignoring them.

2. Forgetting to say when you’ll be back: You need to let people know when you’ll be back in the loop again, right?

3. Getting the dates wrong: This is worse than forgetting to say it altogether because it makes you look stupid. We often get out-of-office messages from people promising to return before they depart.

4. Going into too much detail about why you’re away and where you are going: It’s just thinly veiled bragging. No one is remotely interested.

5. Being rude: You may be out of the office but that’s no excuse to be rude to people. Your out-of-office needs to say please and thank you. Also avoid jargon and office speak, such as you’ll ‘revert’ when you get back.

6. Being too friendly: Workers often write out-of-office messages with their friends in mind so the tone is casual and informal. They forget that this message will be sent to everyone who gets in touch over the coming weeks so it needs to be professional. No ‘mate’s' or ‘darling’s'.

7. Forgetting to give alternative contact details: Just because you aren’t there doesn’t mean the business has to grind to a halt. So remember to give the details of someone who can manage inquires if you aren’t there. This leads us neatly on to sin number eight…

8. Forgetting to tell your alternate contact that they are your alternate contact: There is no point in giving your boss’s contact details without even telling her. Even worse, she could be on holiday, too.

9. Trying to be funny: Out-of-office messages should be clear, concise and polite. But they don’t need to be funny unless you’re a professional stand up.

10. Forgetting to turn the darned thing off: You’ve had your holiday and now you’re back in the office. But your email keeps telling people you are still away. We’ve seen these go on for weeks and even months after someone’s return. Turn it OFF.


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