Looking for a job can be overwhelming. There are more people than ever before competing for the same positions. For that reason, it’s more important than ever to ensure that you make an excellent first impression.
Of course, your resume will almost always be your first impression. But different companies collect resumes in different ways. If a company asks specifically for applicants to email their resumes, it’s important to know how to do so elegantly. In addition, if you would like to target specific individuals within a company, you should also know how to email your resume.
First, we will go over the easy part--how to email a resume if you’ve been specifically asked to do so. ZipJob's professional resume writers and career experts have 5 great tips for this situation.
After that, we’ll dive into the harder part--how to email a resume when you haven't been invited to--and answer some common questions about emailing resumes:
How do I email a resume to someone I've never talked to?
When is a good time to email my resume to an employer?
How do I find a hiring manager's email address?
We'll answer these questions and offer additional tips for making a positive impression.
How to email a resume for a job listing: 5 tips
You’ve been asked to submit your resume via email. How do you do that in the most professional manner?
1. Make sure your email address is professional
Sending a resume with an unprofessional email address will disqualify you from job contention. This is true across industries, career levels, and locations. It shows both a lack of effort and being totally uninformed about the professional world.
An impactful, professional email starts with a professional email address. Ditch the old email@example.com for something more refined.
If you’re not sure what to use for the new address, keep in mind that simplicity is key. The best option is usually something like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Try out a few email domains if your first choice doesn't have a good option available. Hubspot has a list of the 9 Best Free Email Accounts that might help you out!
If you’re scared you may accidentally forget about or miss emails to your new address, set up email forwarding. Here are some links to forwarding instructions for the most popular email services today:
2. Make sure your email subject line is perfect
As we detailed in our related post, Email Subject Lines When Sending Resumes, one-third of people decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject line. Why?
After your email address, the subject line is the first thing the hiring manager will see. Hiring managers receive hundreds of emails a day. To manage that volume, they often sort the emails using a search function. If they search “software engineer” when looking for applications for that open position and your resume doesn’t show up, you’ve pretty much lost your chance.
Some employers will give you specific instructions for constructing your email subject line. Look for these instructions in the job description. If there is no specific information, include the following:
Job ID (if available)
The format will look something like this:
Software Engineer, Job ID# 3399 - John Smith
That’s it! It’s really that simple and straightforward--but it can make a big impact.
33% of people decide to open an email based on the email subject line. Make sure you don't overlook this opportunity to capture attention.
3. Name and save your resume/cover letter files appropriately
Don’t name your resume “resume." Don’t name your cover letter “cover letter." Hiring managers receive dozens, if not hundreds, of applications for the same position. When sorting through the resume files later, vaguely named files must be renamed.
No reason to make it complicated. Just put your first and last name in the file name.
For example, “John Smith Resume” or “Jane Smith Cover Letter”.
Irresponsibly naming your resume is a big turnoff to hiring managers. It demonstrates a lack of critical thinking and organization. So, make sure you name it correctly. It’s super easy and will help you out!
There are a lot of contradictory opinions about the resume file format on the internet. It can get really confusing! Let’s discuss the two most popular resume file formats and the positives and negatives of each.
Microsoft Word (.doc OR .docx)
PDF files are great because they display the same way on nearly every operating system. That means your resume will look exactly the same no matter what computer is used to open it.
That is a major plus.
The problems are:
PDFs are more difficult to edit or take notes on.
Older applicant tracking systems are unable to properly read PDF files.
In short, PDF is a good format to use in most cases when you're sending the resume directly to someone. It will always display beautifully.
The biggest issue to keep in mind is the ATS readability. There will be a small percentage of companies that still use old ATS systems that will be unable to read your PDF resume.
Most emailed resumes are still going through an applicant tracking system (or ATS) of some sort. Here are some tips on passing the ATS resume test.
Word files are the most popular files to use for resumes. First, they can be properly scanned by every applicant tracking system. So you’ll avoid disqualifying yourself for a reason as silly as resume file type.
Second, although not as perfect as PDF, Word files will display nicely across all systems.
Overall, both file types are fine. You should judge which type to use on a company by company basis. Large companies (and online applications) should always get a .doc file. Small companies can go either way.
If you want to choose just one, go with Word. Don’t be afraid to send both! Just make it clear in the body of the email to avoid confusion that you've sent the same document in two formats.
Check out our blog for more details on choosing a resume file type.
4. Write something useful for the body of the email
You’ve taken care of all the technicalities, now it’s time to write the body of the email.
It’s easy to shrug off this part of the process. After all, you already attached a cover letter. What more do you have to write?
Well, you want to stand out. Your email will NOT stand out even if the rest of your email is formatted perfectly and the body says something like:
Do not write this:
Dear Hiring Manager,
My resume and cover letter are attached for your review. Looking forward to your reply.
The above email body is way too generic. It will not make your email pop or help the hiring manager remember you. More likely, it will put you in the same pile as the rest of the candidates with bland emails.
Remember, communication skills are highly valued across all industries. You want to demonstrate your adeptness at communication at every given chance.You can keep it short and simple, just don’t forgo formal language.
Here is a great example of a formal resume email body from Monster:
Instead, try this:
I am very interested in applying for the Graphic Designer position. My qualifications and experience match your specifications almost exactly.
Please take a moment to review my attached Application Documents:
– Up-To-Date Resume
– Customized Cover Letter
It would be a sincere pleasure to hear back from you soon to discuss this exciting opportunity.
As you can see, the content of this resume email isn’t much more detailed than the first example. But, it is written very formally and conveys a professionalism that is lacking in the first example.
A resume email similar to this will be perfect in nearly every scenario. However, if you’d like to put a bit more detail, that's great too and can even help improve your chances.
Remember, if you’re also including a cover letter, a long resume email is unnecessary. Summarizing and reiterating points from your formal cover letter is all you need to do.
CsuiteAssistants provided a very good example:
For more detail, this example is perfect:
My name is John Smith and I’m writing in response to your ad seeking an Executive Assistant.
I have over 3 years of diversified business experience in office procedures involving liaison with executive staff, preparation of results and correspondence, and project and event management. I am currently seeking work as an administrative or executive assistant. For further review of my qualifications and experience, please see my attached resume.
As I welcome the opportunity to meet in-person to detail my experiences and discuss my ability to meet your employment needs, I hope to hear from you.
Thank you for your time and review of my credentials.
The above example can be used to replace a cover letter or even to supplement it by reiterating its key points.
Cover letters help your job application stand out to a hiring manager. Here's what a good cover letter looks like in 2021.
5. Don't forget your signature
Your signature is what you put after the sing off and your name at the bottom of an email. It’s important because it makes it easier to get in contact with you. It can also look very professional if put together correctly.
The format is pretty simple. All you really need to do is place each bit of information directly under the last.
What information should you include?
Social media profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter etc. OPTIONAL)
Link to personal website/portfolio (OPTIONAL / IF APPLICABLE)
Don’t include so much information that it looks sloppy. You want a crisp signature that conveys just the right amount of information. Check out this example:
Pro Tip: notice how neat that LinkedIn URL looks? Learn how to customize your own LinkedIn URL.
So now you understand how to reply to a job listing asking for an emailed resume.
But, what if there is no job listing and you want to target a specific company? We’re covering that in the next section.
How to email a resume to someone you've never talked to: 2 tips
Our final two tips are for job seekers who want to email people they've never been in contact with. This is a totally different ball game than the situation from the first part of this post.
Instead of shooting off your resume into the abyss and competing with hundreds of other applicants, you need to do a little research and email the hiring manager directly. There are a ton of benefits to this, but the big ones are less competition and the possibility to interview for a job before it's posted.
Of course, this approach is a lot more difficult. It requires research and grit to find the relevant email addresses that you’re going to need to be successful. However, it’s totally doable. And if you do it right, you’ll have a leg up on the competition.
Why should I email my resume to someone I don't know?
As we mention in our post 9 Tips to Find A Job In Less Than 30 Days, as many as 85% of jobs are filled through networking. If someone in your network can get you in touch with the hiring manager, you have a huge advantage.
In addition, a recent study estimates that nearly 40% of hires come from employee referrals while only 7% of applications come from those referrals. That's a HUGE increase in your chances of landing the job!
How is this different from emailing about a job listing?
Since you haven't been invited to email this person by a job listing, it's important to adjust your email strategy. Otherwise, you come off as overconfident or presumptuous, which won't inspire a hiring manager to do you any favors.
Most of the tips above remain important places to focus on in your email. To quickly review, that includes:
Using a professional email address
Ensuring your resume and cover letter file names include your name
Writing an effective subject line
Writing a good email body
The first two should remain identical to those in the standard job application. It’s the subject line and email body that need to be a little different when you don't have any relationship with the recipient.
professional resume writers know how to organize your resume to appeal to hiring managers. Check out our guide to the best resume writing services to find your perfect fit!
6. Adjust your email subject line
Since this isn’t an actual job application, the subject line should be different from that discussed above for emails directly regarding job listings. You want the email subject line to be an interesting and engaging call for discussion.
“My experience in XXX will boost company growth”
“Renowned developer with 20 years’ experience”
Both are attention grabbing and speak to your strengths. Use your imagination and come up with something that emphasizes your strengths and makes you pop out.
We have a whole article related to subject lines when sending your resume, so check that out if these examples don't inspire you.
7. Change the body of your email to be more compelling
The body of the email must be detailed. Explain who you are, why you are emailing and why you want to work for the company. Attach your resume and don't forget to indicate that you have attached your resume!
This time, instead of directly asking for a job opportunity, tread lightly. Ask for a conversation instead. See if you can get a good idea of what the company is looking for.
Most importantly, express a deep interest in the company. Your goal is to put your name on the hiring manager’s mind. That way, when an opportunity opens up, you’ll be at the top of the list of candidates.
Sometimes, it can be months before a new position opens up. Keep in touch with the hiring manager. Send out friendly emails every month or so. These emails should be light. Include a relevant news story, a congratulatory message or something similar.
These 7 awesome tips for emailing your resume will help you stand out from the crowd. Remember to be focused and polite, and be clear about what you're asking for.
Applying to jobs online is not as effective as reaching out to the company or hiring manager directly. Read our guide to sending a cold email (with examples).
The rest of this article covers some common questions about emailing a resume.
How to email a resume: frequently asked questions + expert tips
When is a good time to email my resume to an employer?
There are several good answers to this. You can send this type of email when there is a new job posted--but you don't have to wait that long.
If there are specific companies that you would like to work for, be proactive! Find a contact within the company and start emailing them right away. By doing this, you’ll be putting yourself in a great position. When an opportunity opens up, you’ll be on the front of the hiring manager’s mind.
Head over to our related post if you're wondering about the best day and time to send your resume.
Who should I email my resume to?
Generally, you want to target the hiring manager, since that is who makes decisions about who to hire. If you are connected to the hiring manager, perfect! For the rest of us, try to find a way to make the connection.
Start reaching out to friends, colleagues, fellow alumni, etc. You never know who will know someone that can connect you. There’s a great chance that you’ll eventually find a connection who can get you the information you need.
A great resource for finding mutual connections is LinkedIn. Search for your target company on LinkedIn and browse the employee list. More likely than not, you’ll see at least a few 2nd-degree connections. That's an awesome start!
Send a personalized message to those connections and start the dialogue there.
We have a different post devoting to asking for a job referral with several templates you can adapt to ask for an introduction. For example:
Hope all is well with you. (Insert something personal)
I am wondering whether you have any contacts with your company’s hiring personnel, and if you would feel comfortable making an introduction. If you feel that you’re familiar enough with my work history and skills to put me in contact with [hiring manager name}, I would greatly appreciate it.
Keep it short, simple, and to the point.
Continue your networking efforts until you’re able to secure a referral or a hiring manager’s email address.
How do I find a hiring manager's email address?
Instead of scouring through LinkedIn making connection after connection, you can take another approach. There are a variety of techniques and online applications that can give you solid guesses at an individual’s email address.
As long as you have the name of the hiring manager and the name of the company, you’ll be able to make an educated guess.
First off, there is an awesome Chrome extension that guesses email addresses based on linked in profiles. It gives you a confidence meter and a few different options. It’s called Email Hunter and you should definitely check it out.
A guy named Rob Ousbey from Distilled.net put together an awesome email permutator.
You just put in the individual’s name and company and the program will respond with a massive set of possible email addresses. Unfortunately, this no longer seems to be functional in 2021.
You can also make good guesses at email addresses using Google. Searching for “*@companyemail.com” will bring back a list of that company’s email addresses. While you probably won’t be able to directly identify the hiring manager’s email, you should be able to find out how they format their email address.
For example, you’ll see if they format it as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Knowing the format by which the company assigns email addresses, along with the hiring manager’s name, will give you an awesome idea of what the email address is likely to be.
If you can find the person or company on Twitter or LinkedIn, you likely have the option of sending a message. You can ask what email address to use to get in touch with the person hiring for XYZ position. Not everyone will get back to you, but if all else fails, it doesn't hurt to ask.
If you have a few good possible addresses, test them out! MailTester is a very easy to use website that allows you to check if an email address is currently active.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know if that hiring manager you spent all that time chasing read your email? Thankfully, you can. Some wonderful programmers put together some great browser extensions for that. Here are some good ones:
This was a long post, so let's go over the basics again.
There are two common scenarios in which you’ll find yourself needing to email a resume:
A job listing specifically asks for it.
You are targeting a specific company for employment.
In the first scenario, emailing a resume and/or cover letter in response to a job listing, follow our 5 steps to really stand out from the crowd.
Professional email address
Detailed subject line (pay close attention to any specific instructions)
Save your resume and cover letter under appropriate names
Formal body. Even a detailed one if you’re using it to replace the cover letter
Signature with your name, number, and websites
In the second scenario, we discussed finding ways of targeting specific companies, obtaining hiring manager email addresses, and making connections with the company.
Subject line is more of a catchy personal advertisement.
The body is more detailed and less aggressive.
How do you get in contact with these people? We discussed a few creative ways:
Applications and permutations
Email validity checker
By now, you have all the information you need to start drafting your email to a hiring manager. Your first few emails might not lead to your dream job, but it's a great way to shorten your job search! Check out our related posts, or add a comment below.
Thanks for reading! Good luck with your job search.
Did you like this list? Check out this next: Best Resume Writing Services for 2021 Job Seekers (picked by resume experts!)
Jeffrey is one of ZipJob's co-founders and has been a blog contributor since 2016.