With 250+ resumes sent for a single job opening, you want your resume to stand out from the crowd. Emailing your resume directly to the relevant recruiter or hiring manager when applying for a job is one of the most effective ways to land an interview!
However, you need to do this correctly: starting with the subject line. When selecting an email subject for sending a resume, make sure to keep it short, follow any provided directions, and use the power of a name to get your email open.
Since this is the first contact you’ll have with your potential employer, you want to ensure it’s done right. With hiring managers and recruiters receiving tons of resumes through email, the email subject for a job application could be the difference between getting your email opened or deleted.
Nearly 1/3 of people decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject.
Not to worry, we’ve got your back! We’ll show you how to write the perfect email subject lines for a job application and provide examples and tips to help you stand out from the crowd.
Why is the subject line for a job application important?
Let’s think about your subject line being the thing that helps you stand out among other job seekers. The first thing to realize is that there are probably hundreds of applicants for each job that you’re applying to. Keeping your email subject line short and sweet will help ensure that the recipient immediately knows why you’re messaging them, which is good because of the vast amount of other emails they have to go through.
Also, if you’re sending your email to apply for (or inquire about) an open position, it could be the first opportunity you have to make a good impression. It’s the first glimpse your prospective employer gets into your ability to communicate effectively and concisely.
Top 3 tips for the perfect subject line when emailing your resume
Studies have found that 35% of email recipients decide whether or not they’ll open an email simply based on the subject line, so make sure what you’re typing is concise, but relevant, to the reason you’re reaching out. To get your email opened, you need to keep these tips from our career experts and former hiring managers in mind.
1. Keep it short and simple
Remember that brevity is important when writing your specific subject line. Most of the text in the email subject line gets cut off so ensure the first few words capture attention.
Hubspot recommends keeping the subject line length under 50 characters. That way, while scanning the inbox, your receiver pretty much knows what the email is about. It’s fine to go over this a bit, but ensure you get the important details in the first few words.
You shouldn’t put anything in the subject line that sounds like you’re trying to sell something. Avoid soft skill phrases like “dedicated” or “passionate.” This is a major turnoff for hiring managers – and will likely earn your email a one-way trip to the trash folder.
EXPERT TIP: 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.
2. Follow instructions
If you’re emailing about a specific job posting, you should always check the job description for instructions regarding submitting an application. Sometimes you’ll find clear, specific instructions on what the person wants in a professional subject line.
For example, if the job listing specifically asks for the position, Job ID #, and your name, you would simply write:
Marketing Manager, Job ID # 2283, John Doe
Don’t add anything else if instructions have been provided! Follow directions. This could weed you out as an applicant.
3. Use a referral name
Did someone in the company refer you? If so, this is possibly the best way for a job candidate to capture the hiring manager's attention of a hiring manager. Ensure you use the name of the person who referred you in the subject line.
This is what that would look like:
Referral from Tom Nash: John Doe, candidate for Senior Accountant position
Most positions filled today come through some sort of referral as there is already a trust factor established when an employee, or someone associated with the company, refers you. Hiring managers love referrals so be sure to mention their name and “referral” in the first few words of the email subject line!
Expert Tip: Learn How to Ask for a Job Referral + 5 Templates.
Email subject line examples
The bottom line is that your email subject line should be direct. Never leave the HR manager to wonder what the email is about. If you’re following up on an interview or job application, state it directly. If you’re applying for a new role that has a job advertisement associated with it, try to include one or two keywords from the job description. That’ll really help your email stand out as something that’s relevant to the person reading it.
Here are some examples:
Accountant seeking position requiring GAAP knowledge – Jane Smith
Project Manager passionate about Team Building – Suzy Colter
Digital Marketing expert with 10 years’ experience – Brian Smith
Sales Rep dedicated to forging loyal relationships – Brad Toler
Web Developer specializing in user-side features – Tammy Rae
Perfect cold job search email subject line
Sometimes, there’s a company you want to work for but you can’t find a single job opening. That doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to them. It’ll take a bit of research on your part to find out who you’re supposed to email (the best place to do that research is LinkedIn). Once you find the name of the person to contact, you’ll be sending what’s referred to as a cold job search email.
In this instance, you have to be even more mindful of your email subject line because the hiring manager won’t be expecting to see a job application email. Don’t beat around the bush, make it clear that you are reaching out for a job, and try to mention a skill or two that will impress your recipient.
Here are some examples of cold job search email subject lines:
Job Inquiry – Software Engineer, AWS Expert
Letter of Interest: Account Manager, Multimillion-Dollar Accounts
Is ABC Co hiring [Job Title]? – I have 10+ Years of Experience.
Excited to be your next Accounting Team Member
If you have major qualifications or certifications
If there are certifications or major qualifications you possess you should include them. If the position requires a CPA certification, list it after your name. This could help you stand out to the hiring manager. For example:
Job application – Accountant, Job Id #4453 – John Doe, CPA
What to avoid when writing your subject line
It’s easy to fall into some traps when writing your email subject line. Sadly, succumbing to these pitfalls can be a big hindrance to your success in getting through to the hiring manager. Always remember, the delete button is so very conveniently located. Think about how you go through your own email. Bad subject lines get tossed, right?
1. Use a professional email address
Not having a professional email is one of the worst mistakes you can make as a job seeker. Hiring managers and recruiters will usually reject an email if it sounds unprofessional. Emails like “Knicksfan11” or “MichaelandBrianna229283” will not be taken seriously.
Your email should be a combination of your first and last name or your name and the job title you’re after. Having a few numbers in your email is fine, but too many will make you look like a bot. Be careful with using numbers that allude to your age (year of birth) or location (zip code).
Just like customizing your LinkedIn URL, your professional email address should stick to basic information like your name, job, or possibly your general location.
Here are examples of acceptable emails:
Newer email servers like Gmail come across as more professional than AOL, but your focus should be on the first part of your email address. Custom domains are another option for further personalization!
2. Avoid being too general with your opening line
Many people scan the first line of an email message along with the subject line. You want to explain who you are and why you’re emailing right off the bat. Just like with the email subject line, you want to grab the hiring manager’s attention with specific language that highlights your skills and achievements in a way that helps them see how you’ll benefit their team.
3. Don’t forget to be professional
You are not emailing your buddy asking if they want to go to the BBQ this weekend. You are emailing your future boss – potentially. Keep it professional by avoiding language like “Hey” or “What’s up.” Also, emojis have no place in a professional email to someone you want to impress. In fact, it’s been suggested by some hiring managers that emails from job seekers that contain emojis indicate that the person writing the message doesn’t know how to take things seriously. Is that the type of message you want to relay?
Sample email message for a job application
If you’ve made it this far, then you’ve had a lot of information thrown at you and mostly all we’ve talked about is the email subject line. What about the rest of the email? To minimize any distress you’re feeling right now about how to write an email to a prospective employer, here is a sample message that you can use for inspiration in writing your own:
Subject: Job Inquiry from SEO Marketer with 10 Years of Experience
Dear [Hiring Manager Name],
Thank you for opening this email in which I would like to express my interest in an SEO Marketer position at [Company Name]. The latest news from your company indicates a shift into new markets and I am confident that I can help make that happen.
Over the last 5 years, I worked with [Previous Company Name] and became the go-to person for market research and helped localize the company’s website to two new markets. I helped them develop new, culturally sensitive digital marketing campaigns that saw huge returns in client conversions and a great ROI.
All of this is definitely repeatable for your company. I’d love to learn more about your plans for market expansion and discuss other skills, qualifications, and career achievements I can bring to your team. Please feel free to reach out to me at [email address] or [telephone number] so that we can find time to have a meeting.
I appreciate the opportunity to work with you and understand your time is valuable. Thank you for spending some of your day reading my email. I look forward to hearing back from you.
No fluff – just action
The tips above should help you craft the perfect email subject when submitting a job application or following up. Always cut straight to the point and leave out the fluff. Using tricks and keywords that hook someone into opening an email will not work with hiring managers and recruiters. Remember that once you capture the attention of the employer, you want to have a solid resume that clearly and effectively portrays why you’re a good fit for the position or company. For an expert’s opinion of your resume, try out ZipJob’s free resume review or hire an expert today.
ZipJob is a resume and cover letter writing service with over 100 professional resume writers ready to help you impress recruiters and hiring managers. Check out more ZipJob reviews or get started with a free resume review from our experts.
Marsha Hebert, Professional Resume Writer
Marsha is a resume writer with a strong background in marketing and writing. After completing a Business Marketing degree, she discovered that she could combine her passion for writing with a natural talent for marketing. For more than 10 years, Marsha has helped companies and individuals market themselves. Read more advice from Marsha on ZipJob's blog.