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Email Subject Lines for Resumes and Job Applications

These days, a lot of your job search, networking, and other business communication is conducted via email. Employers receive tons of emails a day, and many times, whether or not an email gets opened depends entirely on its subject line. To make sure your emails are read, you need a clear, professional subject line. It's especially important when you're emailing a resume to apply for a job.  

Why the Subject Line Is Important

The subject line (along with the name or email address of the sender) is the first thing people see while scanning their inboxes.

Because emails can contain viruses, as well as irrelevant information, busy people rarely open all their email. The decision to open — or delete — an email is made based mainly on the subject line and the sender. When you leave the subject line blank, your email may likely end up marked as spam or deleted.

Recipients may not be familiar with your name when you send a job search, networking, or other business emails. Therefore, the subject line is your opportunity to introduce yourself. This is the first step to making a strong first impression so that your resume is opened and read.

Tips for Writing an Effective Email Subject Line

Keep it professional. This goes for both your subject line and your email address. The subject line shouldn’t include any informal words or phrases like “Hey” or “What’s Up.” Use only professional, polite language.

Also make sure that your email address is appropriately professional – cutiepie123@000.com could make the hiring manager wonder how serious a contribution you would make to their company.

Note why you are writing. You need to make sure that your subject line will be of interest and considered relevant in order to get your email read. Make it relevant by including keywords related to your reason for writing.

When you are networking, state what you are interested in, or why you are contacting the person, in your subject line.

You might be asking for information, or requesting a meeting, advice, or referral.

If someone recommended the contact, definitely include their name in the subject line. Networking emails can be the most difficult to get noticed, because the person emailing isn’t seeking to solve a specific problem or fill a position. Your subject line is your opportunity to grab their attention and make them want to know more about you.

Mention the job title. In an email applying for a job, use the job title as the subject line, so the employer knows what position you are interested in. That helps busy hiring managers who are recruiting for multiple positions see at a glance which job you are applying for. 

Mentioning the job title is also helpful in case there is an automated filter that categorizes the hiring manager’s email. With the right subject line, you’ll be sure that your application is placed in the appropriate folder to be seen in a timely manner. You can include your name as well, or “referred by” if someone recommended that you apply.

In your follow-up correspondence (particularly a thank you email after an interview), “Thank You” can precede the title of the job.

Keep it short and specific. The more specific you can make your subject line, the easier it will be for the recipient to categorize your email quickly, and respond appropriately.

Be as succinct as possible though, as lengthy subject lines may be cut off, and could lose the most important information.

Many people check their email on mobile devices that display only 25-30 characters of the subject line. You’ll have much more space if they are reading on a computer, and when they open the email they will see the whole subject. Use the first few words to get to the point, and leave the extra information like your credentials and experience for the end.

Edit, edit, edit. When editing your email before sending it, also be sure to proofread your subject line. Since the subject line is your first impression, you want to be sure that your writing is clear and free of errors.

Email Subject Line Examples

For inspiration, here are several examples of clear, to-the-point subject lines: 

  • Administrative Assistant Job - Your Name
  • Job Inquiry - Your Name
  • Managing Director Position
  • Job Posting #321: District Sales Manager
  • Communications Director Position - Your Name
  • Application for Sales Associate
  • Inquiry - Your Name
  • Social Media Expert Seeking New Opportunity
  • Marketing Director Looking for Next Role - 10 years experience
  • Research Assistant Resume
  • Referral - Your Name
  • Referred by FirstName LastName
  • Informational Interview Request - XYZ College Student
  • Thank You - Job Title Interview
  • Meeting Follow Up - Subject of Meeting
  • Meeting Request - Your Name

What Else to Include in Your Email

The subject line is just one aspect of an email cover letter. In order to make the best impression, your email message needs to be professionally written and carefully proofread. You'll also need to consider how to address the letter's recipient, use an appropriate sign-off, and which font and font size to opt for. Here is more advice on job search email etiquette, and some sample email cover letters to review before sending your own. 

8 tips for better email cover letters

If you're emailing a resume, your cover letter will deliver the first impression. These eight tips will help you craft a better email cover letter.

Follow these tips for emailing a cover letter that will get you noticed.

As the saying goes, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. If you're doing a job search or resume submission via email, the first impression any employer will have is from your cover letter.

When you're asked to email your job application to a company, you can either copy and paste your cover letter into the body of your email, or you can attach it as a file, along with your resume. If you send your cover letter as an attachment, you can send it as either a PDF file or Word document. Here's what else you should you consider when crafting an email cover letter.

How should a cover letter look?

Some tips for writing a cover letter are standard, whether you're e-mailing or snail mailing: Be professional, with correct spelling and grammar, and—very important—do use them. (Here are some cover letter samples if you'd like to get a visual idea.) Other tips pertain only to the electronic medium, and when disregarded, could ruin your chances before your foot is in the door.

Don't waste your subject line

What you write in the subject line can determine whether your letter gets read, according to Lydia Ramsey, business etiquette expert and author of Manners That Sell. "Don't ever leave the subject line of your email blank, and don't waste it by just inserting the job number," Ramsey says. "The subject line should be clear and specific to the job you're looking for." An example: "Bilingual CPA seeks account manager position."

Use standard cover letter protocol

Write your letter as the body of the email and include a salutation (use the receiver's actual name if you know it) and a standard closing. ("Sincerely" or "Warm regards" work well.) Leave blank lines between paragraphs, and use appropriate signature and closing lines.

Include all the information in your signature line you would have on your business card, including snail mail address, phone number and email address. "Remember, your email address doesn't always automatically show up on the receiver's email program," Ramsey says.

Keep it short and dynamic

Managers and recruiters are busy. They want to get the gist of your pitch in 150 words or fewer. The first paragraph is crucial, according to Ramsey. "Hook the reader in the first paragraph by selling him or her your abilities," she says. "Use short paragraphs and short sentences to give a very brief bio on who you are and what you can do for them, and wrap it up in the second paragraph."

Keep it simple

If you write a cover letter in a word-processing program, strip away all formatting and save the file as plain text. The ideal line length is 40 characters. Some email packages automatically do word wrap for you, so your cover letter doesn't arrive in fragments.

Don't get cute. Save emoticons, abbreviations, and wild colors and fonts for your nonprofessional emails. The same goes for humor. Chances are, the reader won't think it's funny, and may even find it irritating.

Be specific

Don't respond to an ad for a copywriter when you're really a graphic designer, says Diana Qasabian, talent director at Syndicatebleu. "It may be the tight job market, but we've been receiving more and more letters responding to a specific job from candidates who are not at all qualified for it," she says.

"We look for specifics in email cover letters, which means skills and abilities," she adds. "Embellishment and fluff are not necessary. It's not necessary to write, 'I'm a hard worker.' That goes without saying."

Keywords are key

Because many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATSes) to find and screen candidates, skill-oriented keywords will boost your chance at being discovered, a recruiter at a large technology company says.

"ATS tools track keywords that identify skill sets," she says. "So even if you're not right for the job you're seeking, strong keywords improve the chance that your cover letter and resume will be retrieved in a future search or be selected for a more appropriate job."

Play by their rules

Take the time to learn the company guidelines for submitting resumes, and follow them. Many companies list these guidelines on their Web sites. Also, don't include attachments unless they are requested. Some companies block all emails with attachments to prevent viruses.

Check it again

Thoroughly spell-check and proofread your email letter. And remember, your email software's spell-checker won't catch grammar mistakes. Send it to a friend first and ask him to check it for content and style. If all your friends are tapped out, or even if they aren't, test your email cover letter by emailing it to yourself, and put yourself in the mindset of an employer when you read it.

Get recruiters' attention

Once your cover letter is polished and ready to go, make sure you get maximum use from it. After all, it'll do you no good just sitting on your computer. You need to get your cover letter in front of the people who are doing the hiring. Could you use some help getting their attention? Join Monster today. As a member, you can upload up to five resumes and cover letters—each tailored to the different kinds of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. 


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