When writing employment-related email messages, how you communicate will impact your success. Employers expect to receive well-written and error-free email messages. Because you have only a short amount of time to make an impression, keep your emails brief and focused.
Review Examples of Email Message Formats
Review examples of email message formats for cover letters for jobs, references, resignation letters, LinkedIn messages, farewell messages, and thank you notes, as well as examples of subject lines and signatures.
What to Include in a Professional Email Message
What's the best way to format the emails you send to employers and connections? An email message for employment purposes should be as professional as it would be if you were writing an old-fashioned paper letter and include the following elements:
- Subject line with your name and why you are writing
- Professional greeting
- Message body, which should be no longer than two or three paragraphs. The message should explain who you are, why you are writing, and what you are requesting or have to offer.
- Professional closing
- Signature with your contact information, which should include your full name, email address, and phone number. You also can include your LinkedIn Profile URL, as well as links to any social media pages you use for professional purposes.
When sending an email cover letter to apply for a job, it's important to follow the employer's instructions on how to submit your application, and to make sure that your email cover letter is written and formatted properly.
The employer may ask you to include a cover letter in your email message, or you may be asked to send an attachment. When you include your letter in the email message, you simply type or copy/paste from your word processing program into the email.
If you send an email cover letter, here's how to format it:
Subject: Your Name—Job Title
The first paragraph of an email cover letter should reference the job you're applying for and where you found the job posting.
Use the second paragraph—and third if you need it—to detail what you have to offer the employer and to explain why you would be a great hire.
In the last paragraph of your message, thank the company for considering you for the job.
When leaving your job, it's a good idea to send a personalized farewell message via email or LinkedIn rather than group messages so your farewell message is personal. Include your contact information so your co-workers can stay in touch.
Here's what to include in your message:
Subject: Your Name—Moving On
If you know the person well, you can send an informal message relaying your plans for the future. For other colleagues and clients, send a formal farewell message.
Mention that you're moving on, share your appreciation and thanks, and add a request to stay in touch.
Include your personal contact information in the message or in your signature, so it's easy to stay connected.
When sending messages and invitations on LinkedIn, your communications should be professional and well-written. Format your letter as you would an email message. Explain why you are inviting the person to connect with you or requesting information or assistance.
Be sure to mention how you know you're connected and what advice or assistance you need. Include your contact information (email and phone number) in your message so it's easy to connect outside of LinkedIn.
When networking to grow your career or boost your job search, it's important to include information on why you are writing and what type of help you are seeking. If you're writing to a friend or colleague, your message doesn't need to be formal.
If you're asking someone who doesn't know you for job search or career help, write a formal request for assistance.
Subject: Your Name—Referral (or other reason for writing)
What you include in your letter depend on to whom it is addressed. If you're asking for job search help from someone you know, you can be less formal than if you are requesting assistance from someone you were referred to.
In general, use your first paragraph to introduce yourself, and the following paragraphs to explain your request. Finish your letter with a request to follow up.
When emailing a reference letter for a job applicant, your message should explain your connection to the person you are recommending, including how you know them. Include as much detail as possible about the person's relevant qualifications.
Subject: Applicant's Name—Recommendation
The first paragraph of the reference letter explains how you know the person you are recommending and why you are qualified to recommend them.
In the second paragraph, share details about why the person is qualified for the job. In the third paragraph, state that you "highly" or "strongly" recommend the person.
Conclude your letter by offering to provide additional information to support the person's candidacy. List your email address, phone number, and signature here.
When sending an email to resign from a job, it should be brief and to the point. List your name and "resignation" in the subject line of the message. Your email only needs to include the fact that you're leaving and when your last day of work will be.
Subject: Your Name—Resignation
The first paragraph of your email should say that you are resigning and state when your resignation is effective.
The next (optional) paragraph of your resignation letter thanks the employer.
Conclude your email (also optional) by offering to assist with the transition.
Taking the time to send a thank you message after a job interview is time well spent. In addition to thanking the interviewer for his or her time, you can reiterate your interest in the job and share anything you forgot to mention during the interview.
Subject - Thank You—Job Title Interview
A thank you letter for a job interview should share your appreciation for the interviewer's time, reiterate your interest in the job, share any information you neglected to mention during the interview, and offer to provide any additional information the company may need to make a hiring decision.
How to Format Your Email Signature
When using email to job search, it's important to include an email signature with your contact information so it's easy for hiring managers and recruiters to get in touch with you.
Here's how to format your signature in an email message: