Think about this as you’re composing and sending out job search email.
In your job search email, you’re reaching out to:
- a recruiter,
- a hiring manager at a company you’re targeting,
- someone in your network, or
- someone you don’t know at a target company, with whom you want to network.
The first things they will notice in their email inbox are your email address and the subject line of your email message.
Above all, you don’t want your email message to land in spam or cause the recipient to immediately delete it.
Either or both of these may happen, if you get the following 2 things wrong.
2 Job Search Email Mistakes
1. Off-putting Email Address
You are a professional. You want to be seen as such. Your email address needs to be professional and, if at all possible, support your personal brand.
How do you think an executive recruiter or hiring decision maker will respond when they receive an email from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org?
Take a look at the email address you’re using for job search.
Make sure it isn’t silly-sounding or profane, or that the letters come together to convey an unintended meaning. Don’t include your date of birth, or even just your birth year.
Set up a designated job search email account. Create a professional, brand-reinforcing email address – “your name” plus ideally some descriptive word about your work, or a credential, such as:
If your ideal email address is taken, try adding your zip code or the zip code of the area in which you’re job-hunting.
In addition, never use an email address associated with your current employer. Your privacy can easily be compromised and, when you move on, you may not be able to retrieve those email messages.
Want to further seal the deal that the recipient will actually open and read your email? Pay attention to the subject line.
2. Inappropriate or Non-Existent Subject Line
Think of this as a headline or teaser, marketing your qualifications and value. You want to entice people to read your email message.
Therefore, capture attention with the subject line and help the reader know immediately what your message is about. For instance, something useless like “Greetings” or “Hello” doesn’t do much. It’s nearly as bad as having nothing in the subject line.
Often in job search, your emails will be archived by recipients for future retrieval. Don’t let yours get lost in the sea of emails these people have on file. Make it easy for them to find yours in an instant.
They will likely search their archived emails using relevant keywords and phrases, so be sure to get those into your subject line.
Specifics for the Job Search Email Subject Line
An article on Business Insider asked a few experts about email subject lines. Here’s their advice:
Write the subject line first.
This helps you set the tone for the body of the email and keeps you from forgetting to include a subject line. NOT including a subject line is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Keep it short and place the most important words at the beginning.
“A typical inbox reveals about 60 characters of an email’s subject line, while a mobile phone shows just 25 to 30 characters. Get right to the point in about six to eight words.” Research indicates that almost half of emails are opened on mobile devices.
Eliminate filler words.
Things like “hello” and “thanks” can be included within the email message. Since so few characters will show up in the subject line on mobile devices, don’t use up that precious real estate with fluff.
Be clear and specific about the topic of the email.
Help the recipient prioritize your email’s importance without opening it. If your email is a job application, include your name and the position in the subject line.
Examples for job applications:
Referred by Alan Brown for Director of Sales Role
Human Resources Director Application – Jane Alton
Use logical keywords for search and filtering.
Recruiters and other hiring professionals typically set up email filters and folders, so they may not actually read your emails when it comes in. Including relevant keywords in your subject line makes it easy for the recipient to search for it later, in their folders.
If someone referred you, be sure to use their name.
If someone the recipient knows referred you to them, put that in the subject line to grab their attention right away. Even better, begin the subject line with the referrer’s name.
Don’t start a sentence that you finish in the email’s body.
It’s disrespectful and you’ll likely annoy the recipient because they’ll feel they have to open it.
Make sure you re-read the subject line.
It’s so easy to make errors or typos. Always give it a final read-through before sending.
Spark the recipient’s memory for an even better shot at getting your email opened.
“If you’ve met the recipient, exchanged emails before, or had a phone call, mention that in your subject line.”
Examples for an interview follow-up:
Alan Brown Following Up on Director of Sales Role
Human Resources Director Interview Follow-Up – Jane Alton
Don’t put words in ALL CAPS.
“Putting any phrase in all caps is the equivalent of shouting.”