Email Etiquette Tips for Job Seekers

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When you are job searching, you’ll likely use email for a number of reasons. You might send an email asking about job openings, or an email cover letter with a resume attached. You might send networking emails asking contacts for help with your job search. You will likely also send email thank-you messages after interviews.

When you use email to job search, it's important that all your communications are as professional as they would be if you were writing an old-fashioned paper letter.

Here's information on all you need to know about job search email etiquette, including what to put in your job search emails, how to format your emails, and how to make sure your email messages are read.

Email Etiquette Tips for Job Seekers

Set Up a job search email account. When you're looking for a job, it's a good idea to set up an email account just for job searching. That way your professional email won't get mixed in with your personal mail.

There are a variety of free web-based email services, like Gmail and Yahoo, that you can use. You'll be able to check your email online from any computer, so using webmail is a good way to stay on top of your job search.

Be sure you have an email account name that is appropriate for business use, i.e. firstname.lastname@gmail.com rather than cutegirl@hotmail.com. Once you've set up the account, send yourself a few test messages to make sure you can send and receive mail.

Use this email account for all your job search communications: to apply for jobs, post your resume, and connect with your contacts. Be sure to check your account frequently so that you can respond immediately to employers who are interested in hiring you. Also set up your job search email on your smartphone so you can get notifications instantly.

Don't use your work email account. Many companies monitor email communications, and you don't want to get caught job searching from work. Don't use your work email address for job searching or networking. Don't send resumes and cover letters from your work email account or use that email address when you apply for jobs online. 

Send your email to a specific person. When possible, send your email to a contact person, rather than a general email box. Send a copy to yourself, so you have a record of the emails you have sent and the jobs you’ve applied to.

Use a clear subject line. Your email message needs a subject line. If you leave the subject blank, the email is probably going to end up in a spam mailbox or be deleted. Make sure you list the position you are applying for in the subject line of your email message, so the employer knows what job you are applying for.

You might want to include your name in the subject as well. Below are two examples of appropriate subject lines:

  • Subject Line: Communications Director Position
  • Subject Line: Marketing Associate Position / Your Name

Choose a simple font. Avoid ornate, difficult-to-read fonts. Use a basic font like Times New Roman, Arial, or Cambria. Don’t use color in your text, either. Use size 10 or 12 point, so that the email is easy to read, without being too big.

Write like it's a business letter. In general, your email messages should look a lot like business letters. They should include words, not acronyms, slang or emoticons. The email letters should be written in full sentences and paragraphs. Begin with a salutation, and end with a send-off and your signature.

The only difference between an email and a business letter is that in an email you don’t need to include the employer’s contact information, the date, and your information in the top left corner.

Keep it brief. People tend to skim, or even ignore, very long emails. Keep your email brief and to the point.

Include a signature. Include an email signature with your contact information, so it's easy for the hiring manager to get in touch with you. Including a link to your LinkedIn profile is a good way to give the hiring manager more information on your skills and abilities.

Below is a sample email signature:

FirstName LastName
Email Address
Phone
LinkedIn Profile URL (Optional)

Edit, edit, edit. Make sure you proofread your email for grammar and spelling errors. Clear writing is just as important in an email as it is in a business letter.

Send a test message. Before you send your email, send the message to yourself to check that the formatting works. Also, make sure that any files you attached are easy to open. If everything looks good, resend the email to the employer.

Email Message Content

If you have a contact person, address your email to Dear Mr./Ms. LastName. If you don't, address your email to Dear Hiring Manager or simply start with the first paragraph of your message.

When you apply for a job via email, copy and paste your cover letter into the email message or write your cover letter in the body of an email message. If the job posting asks you to send your resume as an attachment, send your resume as a PDF or a Word document.

No matter your purpose for emailing, be clear about why you are writing and the purpose of your email message. Include this information early on in the email. The reader is much more likely to respond if they know, at a glance, why you’re reaching out to them.