Email Etiquette for Job Seekers

This Post was written by Bridge Technical Talent
Date posted: August 13, 2018

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Emails are one of the most common types of communication in many workplaces, beginning with the job search. However, many people may not know exactly how they can portray themselves professionally through an email. Emails are often the first point of communication during a job search, so it is important that they are written thoughtfully and purposefully. To make the right first impression when sending an email, it is important that you keep these tips in mind. 

Before you send an email, make sure your email address is appropriate.  

Your email address is part of your virtual identity, so you want to make sure it is professional. A good professional email address should be simple and include your first and last name. Including many numbers or symbols or using nicknames can confuse recipients and make it difficult to contact you. Additionally, nicknames and random words can detract from your credibility. It is important to make sure that your email matches who you are.  

It is also a good idea to avoid using your current company’s email during the job hunt. Your employer may be monitoring your messages, and the last thing you need is to be caught searching for a new job during work hours. Having a separate, professional email for job searching can ensure that no conflicts arise, as well as distinguish you as a job seeker rather than a job hopper.

Use a clear subject line.  

To avoid being overlooked in a busy inbox, it is important to use a subject line that clearly addresses your goal. By leaving a subject line blank, you not only risk being ignored in an inbox, but you also risk being moved to the spam box because of an unfamiliar address.  

In addition to showing why you are writing, a subject line is your first opportunity to grab your recipient’s attention. Instead of simply writing “Job Application for John Smith,” you could write an enticing detail of your background, such as, “Tableau Developer with 15 years of Experience.” Use this opportunity to make a first impression to your advantage by highlighting your strengths from the beginning.

Address the recipient by name 

Again, emails are your first impression for a potential employer! Find out exactly who you are sending the email to, whether it is an HR representative or a department manager. Make sure that you have the correct email, and then address them by name. By addressing the person by name, you will not only show that you did some research and paid attention in the job search, but you will also show that you are invested in their time and interested in the opportunity. Remember, this email is a form of communication. It’s not going into space; it’s going to another person.  

Format appropriately. 

Even though emails are digital, they are still a form of business writing. When writing an email, it should be formatted like a traditional letter. Make sure you have a greeting, a body, paragraphs as needed, a closing, and a signature. This will ensure that your email is easy to read and will help you organize your thoughts.  

When choosing your font style, make sure it is easy to read. Choose black font in a simple style, such as Times New Roman or Arial. Avoid Wingdings, cursive script, or other hard-to-decipher fonts. Also, WRITING IN ALL CAPS MIGHT SOUND ANGRY, so use italics or bold if you absolutely need to emphasize a detail.  

Get to the point quickly. 

While you might want to add every detail into your email, it is often best to get to the point of your email instead of drawing it out. A good rule of thumb is to make emails the length of, or shorter than, your thumb! You should introduce yourself if necessary, and then explain why you are writing. While you want to be brief, make sure you include information necessary to avoid confusion. Make sure to reference the specific reason you are writing, where you found their contact information and job posting, and what attachments are included.  

When you’re unsure about whether to include something in your email, remember your audience and purpose. Ask yourself if the information has to do with the reason you are writing, and if your audience needs to know that detail immediately. If the answer is yes, include the detail. If not, save it for later. 

Use formal language. 

Remember, your email should mirror a business letter. This means that you should not include acronyms or abbreviations that might be unfamiliar, slang words, or inappropriate language. It is also a good idea to avoid using exclamation points, as they can detract from messages and make you sound unprofessional. Instead, choose strong word choice that reveals your enthusiasm.  

Another thing to keep in mind about emailing is that while it is digital communication, it is not texting. Do not include emojis, symbols, or abbreviations used for informal texting (e.g. “lol,” “omg”), as these can detract from your professionalism. Strong word choice can replace the urge to include these in your email.  

Include a signature. 

After you finish writing your email, you want to make sure the recipient knows who wrote. Always make sure you include a closing to signal the ending. In the case of job seekers, it is a good idea to close with a “thank you.” Your recipient has taken the time to review your email, and you want to show that you appreciate their time. After signing your name under the closing, include your contact information underneath, including your name, email, and phone number. Once again, do not include the contact information for your current workplace. 

If you have attachments (which you should reference in the body), you can add an “enclosure” note underneath the signature revealing which attachments are included. This way, your recipient is assured that the documents are safe to open, knowing exactly what you have included.  


Last but certainly not least, you should always make sure that you proofread your email. Begin with the subject line and the greeting to make sure that you have spelled the name of the recipient and company correctly. Read the body of the email aloud to make sure the language is clear, and double check all punctuation marks. Make sure that you include all necessary information, contact information, and attachments.  

Proofreading is one of the most important steps of writing a professional email. Especially when job hunting, you want to show recruiters that you care about them and that you are putting effort into your messages. An email could be your first impression and will likely determine whether they get back to you, so make sure you don’t overlook this important final step.

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