How to write the perfect email subject line for job hunting

Make a good first impression.

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Make a good first impression.
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Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr

With an estimated 269 billion business emails sent every day, it’s harder than ever to get yours noticed.

And since email is often the first point of contact for job seekers and hiring managers, the subject line can make all the difference.

It not only communicates who you are and what you want but also can be a marketing tool that shows off your qualifications and helps you stand out.

So how do you motivate a reader to click on your email and give you their time?

Depending on the context, career and communication experts offer the following advice that job seekers should bear in mind when crafting their job-search subject lines.

Here’s how to write the perfect subject line for your next job search, complete with some examples:


Keep it short

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Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr

A typical inbox reveals about 60 characters of an email’s subject line, while a mobile phone shows just 25 to 30 characters, said Amanda Augustine, career expert at TopResume.

With such limited space, eliminate any unnecessary words like “hello” and “thanks,” and get right to the point in about six to eight words.

Example: Human Resources Assistant Application


Place the most important words at the beginning

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Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr

A whopping 50% of emails are now read on mobile phones, said Dmitri Leonov, a VP at email management service SaneBox.

Since you don’t know how much of the subject line hiring managers would be able to see from their smartphones, it’s important to put the most important information at the beginning of the subject line. Otherwise, compelling details could get cut off.

Example: Marketing Manager with 8 Years of Experience


Be clear and specific

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Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr

Recruiters spend just six seconds reviewing a resume, said Augustine, so they likely spend even less time scanning a job seeker’s email.

The subject line should communicate exactly who you are and what you’re looking for without a recruiter needing to open the email.

Don’t use a vague subject line like “résumé for opening,” and instead specify which opening you’re applying for.

Example: John Smith Following Up on Sales Position


Use logical keywords for search and filtering

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Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr

Hiring managers typically have filters and folders set up to manage their email and probably won’t focus on your message when they first see it, said Leonov.

That’s why it’s important to include keywords like “job application” or “job candidate” that will make the email searchable later.

Example: Job Application: John Smith for Social Media Manager


Include the position and your name

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WOCinTech Chat/Flickr

For a standard job application, Augustine said the most important information to include in the email subject line is the job title and your name, as well as the job’s ID if it has one.

Anything less will require the hiring manager to spend time opening the email and trying to decode it.

Example: Data Scientist, No. 123456 – John Smith Application


List your designations to show that you’re qualified

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Mario Tama/Getty

The subject line should be a place to distinguish yourself and immediately catch a recruiter’s eye.

Augustine said to include any acronyms you have that are pertinent to the job. For example, you might add MBA, CPA, or Ph.D. after your name, depending on its relevancy to the position.

Example: Marketing Director – John Smith, MBA


If someone referred you, be sure to use their name

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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

If you’ve been referred by a mutual acquaintance, do not save that for the body of the email, said Augustine. Put it in the subject line to grab the hiring manager’s attention right away.

Moreover, she suggests beginning the subject line with the person’s full name.

Example: Referred by Jane Brown for Technical Writer position


Don’t use ALL CAPS

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Sorbis/Shutterstock

Using all caps may get someone’s attention, but in the wrong way. It’s the digital equivalent of yelling, and your job is to make the email as easy as possible for a recruiter to read rather than giving them anxiety, said Leonov.

Instead, use dashes or colons to separate thoughts, and avoid caps and special characters like exclamation points.

Example: Job Inquiry: Award-Winning Creative Director now in New York

This is an updated version of an article previously written by Jenna Goudreau.