A Guide to Job Searching and Email Etiquette

Email communication can be an effective tool for job-seekers. People will often send emails to companies to inquire about job openings, and after finding a vacancy, it's common to send an email cover letter with an attached résumé to begin the application process. Some job-seekers also use emails for networking purposes, scanning professional contacts to find leads in a job search. After an interview, an applicant will likely send a follow-up email to thank the interviewer. When using emails for a job search, the communication tone must be professional and the sender should follow rules of email etiquette regarding the format and content.

Email Etiquette Tips for Job-Seekers

  • Use a Professional Email Account: The name on the email account must be appropriate for business use. Typically, this will require an email address with the sender's first name and last name only. Some job-seekers create an email account specifically for the purpose of job-seeking to keep these emails separate from personal emails. Using a free Web-based email provider is acceptable for this purpose.
  • Send an Email to a Specific Person: Always strive to send an email to a specific contact instead of a general inbox. Sending a copy of the email to yourself can help you keep track of the correspondence.
  • Use a Clear Subject Line: Every email must have a clear subject line to prevent filtering into a spam or junk folder. Listing the position in the subject will often help the receiver route the email correctly. Some job-seekers also place their name in the subject line.
  • Use a Professional Font: Use only professional fonts that are easy to read, such as Arial, Cambria, or Times New Roman. Use 10- or 12-point font. Avoid alternative font colors or fonts that are difficult to read.
  • Compose a Business Letter: Write the email as a business letter, avoiding slang, emoticons, and acronyms. Open the email with a salutation, and close it with a signature. Use full sentences and paragraphs.
  • Write a Brief Email: Avoid sending lengthy emails so recipients will read them in full. Keep the message brief and on point.
  • Include Your Signature: The email signature should include contact information to facilitate a response from the hiring manager. Include a link to a LinkedIn profile if possible.
  • Proofread for Errors: Read the email carefully to find any grammatical and spelling errors. Proofread for clarity as well.
  • Send a Test Message to Yourself: Send the email to yourself to test the formatting and layout. If attaching documents, check them to ensure that they open without issue.

Email Message Content

Begin the job-seeking email with a salutation directly to the contact person, if possible. If you do not have a specific name, address the email to "hiring manager" or omit the salutation altogether. The cover letter should make up the body of the email message. State the purpose of the email clearly in the beginning of the message. If sending a résumé, attach a Microsoft Word document or PDF to the email.

General Job Search Advice

Although a job search can be time-consuming and challenging, job-seekers can streamline their efforts for the best chances of success. Exploring options for job leads within your professional network will often produce positive results. Researching jobs and qualifications helps an applicant set a realistic goal. Once a goal is set, creating a plan to achieve it is the next step. This plan can include specific steps for finding vacancies, applying for openings, interviewing, and accepting a position. Part of this plan also includes creating a polished and professional résumé, which will help you present skills and qualifications to potential employers. Tailoring a résumé and cover letter for each company is helpful because this enables you to demonstrate exactly how well you fit the company and the position. If an employer uses specific keywords in a job description, echo these words in the email cover letter and résumé. And be sure to research the company prior to an interview so you can demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the position.