9 Tips for Sending Job Search Email

Today, it almost seems that more job search communication is done in print, especially digitally, than face-to-face. Email has become the primary mode of communication for job hunters, surpassing phone calls. For this reason, it’s essential to understand and apply basic email etiquette rules whenever you are sending job search related email.

Etiquette Tips for Sending Job Search Email

Email is a primary mode of communication for most job hunters and there are specific guidelines you should follow when writing and sending job search emails.

  • 1) Subject Lines. Subject lines should be short and specific. Your subject line doesn’t need to be a complete sentence, but should clearly indicate the topic of the email. Picture your recipient scanning their inbox. Will they be able to find your message when they want to refer back to it? Are you applying for a specific position? Include the job title (and job # if relevant) in your subject line. If you were referred by someone, make that known in the subject. For example, “Referred by Jane Doe; Marketing Director.” If you aren’t sending it in reference to a specific position, try a subject line referring to your expertise” “IT Security Director with 15 Years of Experience.”

  • 2) Greeting. Use “Dear,” “Hello,” “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” and so on. If it’s someone you’ve never met, avoid using “Hi” until you know them. It is often a good idea to use the highest level of formality for a person’s name with Mr. or Ms. unless they instruct you to do otherwise. Always send the email to a specific person. If you don’t know the person’s name, make an effort to learn it. If you still can’t find their name, “Dear Hiring Manager:” is acceptable.

  • 3) Opening. How you start your emails is important. If you’re just introducing yourself, write an introduction that’s like a written version of your elevator speech. If you’re following up with someone you met, remind them of who you are and what you discussed at the initial meeting. If it’s someone you already know, it’s nice to open with a personal “Hi, I hope all is well with you” or something along those lines before getting down to business.

  • 4) Length. Your email should be long enough to convey the appropriate information but not too long. Overly long emails are overwhelming and waste people’s time. Be brief and to the point. Keep formatting simple with just text and break text up into small paragraphs to make it easy to read. If the email needs to be lengthy, highlight the important parts, or write a quick summary at the beginning to make it easy to refer back to.

  • 5) Tone. It’s better to err on the side of too formal than to risk sounding too casual. Write each email as if you were writing on company letterhead. Don’t let the fact that it’s a digital communication allow you to be too casual.

    • Don’t use abbreviations like “u” for “you” or “R” for “are.”
    • Avoid using exclamation points and if you must, use them sparingly.
    • Don’t ever write when you’re angry or emotional; cool down first.
    • Bear in mind that your email may be shared with others within the prospective employing company.
    • In terms of formality, mirror how the other person writes.
    • End with something that encourages a response, such as “I look forward to hearing from you with the next steps.” or “I can be reached at 555.555.5555 and am happy to answer your questions at any time.”
    • If you don’t need a response, let the other person know by saying something like, “Thank you again,” or, “Please let me know if I can answer any other questions.”

    You may want to write a rough draft and then proofread and edit it, especially if the subject is very important or sensitive. For a complex email, you might want to create an outline. An outline helps you organize your thoughts and pare it down to the essentials.

  • 6) Attachments. Make sure you’re sending the appropriate attachments and mention this in the message so the recipient knows to open them. If you’re sending a large file for some reason, ask first whether it’s okay to send it so that you don’t crash their inbox. If you are applying for a job, you will want to copy and paste your cover letter into the body of the email and then attach your resume. Unless the recipient has asked for a different format, always send your resume as either a Microsoft Word document or PDF (or both).

  • 7) Signing Off. Appropriate ways to sign off include “Thank you” and “Best regards.” Keep it formal. Your email signature should have your contact information including not only email address, but also your LinkedIn profile address and phone number.

  • 8) Proofread. Even for a short email, give it a quick reading-over to make sure it’s free of errors and you effectively communicated what you wanted to say. Copy and paste and run it through spellcheck. As you read it, look carefully for anything that could be taken the wrong way. With email communications, the recipient can’t see your face or hear your tone of voice. Look for anything that could be interpreted the wrong way and fix it.

  • 9) Reply All. If replying to an email, be careful about the “Reply All” function. If there were multiple recipients, ask yourself whether this is something they all need to read. If they aren’t all involved, do a regular “Reply.”

Finally, when you are job searching always use your personal email address and never your address with your current employer. Make sure your handle is professional: johndoe@email.com instead of snookums@email.com. Additionally, aol.com and hotmail.com addresses date you. If you are still using one of these email addresses, for your job search we recommend you update it to gmail.com or another similar provider.


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7 Email Etiquette Tips for Job Hunters Infographic