How to write the perfect out-of-office email.

There are so email rules we are expected to follow but none are more important than this one. It’s to do with the out-of-office automated email message you choose.

Apparently it can make or break your career.

The sad reality is that even when we do take a few days off work or maybe a week or two for a proper holiday, we are still expected to be contactable in some way, shape or form.

Even if it is through an automated message letting work associates know exactly when we will be back and who to contact in our absence.

A quick, “I am currently out of the office”, just doesn’t suffice.

I chucked a sickie so I could…Article continues after this video.

Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0 told the New York Post there are certain expectations to consider when it comes to out-of-office email responses.

There are four types of ways to approach the out-of-office email situation:

Don’t leave one.

This is just rude, according to Peggy Duncan, author of Conquer e-mail Overload With Better Habits, Etiquette and Outlook


It’s also just bad business when you think about it. If you take a few days or even weeks off from work and don’t provide contact details for a work contact, that can mean missed opportunities that can advance your career.


Leave one saying “still available”.

It’s not much of a break if you are reading emails the entire time, says Dan Schawbel. However some of us don’t have the luxury of dropping of the face of the earth for a proper holiday, particularly those working contract positions or running small businesses.

However Schawbel says specify how often you are going to check your emails to establish expectations. Say once a day if you mean once a day.

'Out-of-office email messages can make or break your career.' Image: The Holiday, Universal Pictures

Too much information.

Nobody needs your life story or an unprofessional out-of-office email that makes your job sound difficult so keep it short, sharp and polite. Schawbel says you should only include information that is helpful.

That means let them know you are out of the office, when you will be back and who can be contacted in your absence.

Delete, delete, delete.

I often send emails to work colleagues who are out of the office, assuming that when they get back they can catch up on the information in them, and the other 2000 emails in their inbox, depending on how long they have been away for.

Some, however, choose to set up their emails to automatically delete to avoid coming back to a full-to-the-brim inbox. Schawbel, however, says this is pretty disrespectful of those trying to contact you and you could negatively affect a work relationship as a result.


Taking this advice into consideration we have devised what we feel is the PERFECT out-of-office email reply:

Thank you for your email. Unfortunately I am out of the office until 30 July and won't be checking my emails. Please contact my colleague (insert colleague details here).

Or even...

Thank you for your email. Unfortunately I am out of the office until 30 July and will only be checking my emails once a day. For urgent matters please contact my colleague (insert colleague details here), otherwise I will be in touch when I return.

Career in tact, holiday enjoyed.

No copyright applies to either of these emails. Please feel free to use either with our pleasure.