How To Write The Perfect Email Subject Line

With an estimated 116 billion business emails sent around the world every day (that’s about 123 work-related emails per person in a day), it’s harder than ever to get yours noticed.

And since email is often the first point of contact for job seekers and hiring managers, the subject line can make all the difference.

It not only communicates who you are and what you want but also can be a marketing tool that shows off your qualifications and helps you stand out.

So how do you motivate a reader to click on your email and give you their time?

Career and communication experts offer the following advice that job seekers should bear in mind when crafting their subject lines during a job search:

Make sure you include one

As Amanda Augustine, a career expert for TopResume has said that not including a subject line can be irritating to the recipient, who is forced to open the email to figure out what it’s about.

What’s more, not including an email subject line is a missed opportunity to market yourself, and your email may also be rejected by some email clients, therefore not being received by the intended recipient at all!

Keep it short

A typical inbox reveals about 60 characters of an email’s subject line, while a mobile phone shows just 25 to 30 characters, so with such limited space, eliminate any unnecessary words like “hello,” and get right to the point in about six to eight words.

Sending email on phone

Place the most important words at the beginning

Most emails are now read on mobile phones, says Dmitri Leonov, a VP at email management service SaneBox.

Since you don’t know how much of the subject line hiring managers would be able to see from their smartphones, it’s important to put the most important information at the beginning of the subject line. Otherwise, compelling details could get cut off.

Include the position and your name

Recruiters spend, on average, six seconds reviewing a résumé, so they likely spend even less time scanning a job seeker’s email.

The subject line should communicate exactly who you are and what you’re looking for without a recruiter needing to open the email.

Don’t use a vague subject line like “resume for opening,” and instead specify your name and which position you’re applying for. You should also include the job’s ID if it has one.

Be specific about dates and locations, too

If you’re thanking someone for an interview or conversation you had, include when and where this happened. Instead of a simple, “Thank you,” try something like, “Thanks for today’s coffee meeting at Starbucks.”

Don’t make people scan their brains to remember you; put all the relevant info in one line.

Use logical keywords for search and filtering

Hiring managers typically have filters and folders set up to manage their email and probably won’t focus on your message when they first see it. That’s why it’s important to include keywords like “job application” or “job candidate” that will make the email searchable later.

List your designations to show that you’re qualified

The subject line should be a place to distinguish yourself and immediately catch a recruiter’s eye. If it would be easily understood by the recruiter, Augustine recommends including any acronyms you have that are pertinent to the job. For example, you might add MBA, CPA, or Ph.D. after your name, depending on its relevance to the position.


If someone referred you, be sure to use their name

If you’ve been referred by a mutual acquaintance, do not save that for the body of the email, says Augustine. Put it in the subject line to grab the hiring manager’s attention right away.

Moreover, she suggests beginning the subject line with the person’s full name. For example, Friend of Jane Doe, interested in analyst position.

Create some curiosity

In a LinkedIn article, Adam Grant, a Wharton professor and organisational psychologist, points to research that shows people are more likely to read emails with subject lines that create curiosity or provide utility.
Create Some Curiosity

If you’re feeling brave, you might try a subject line like, “9 reasons you should move forward with Jane as your new sales manager.” It creates curiosity while also including the important details.

Finish the thought

If you begin a thought or question that ends in the email, then the reader is once again forced to open the email, which is annoying. The goal is to be clear and respectful of the recipient’s time.

Don’t use ALL CAPS

Using all caps may get someone’s attention, but in the wrong way. It’s the digital equivalent of yelling, and your job is to make the email as easy as possible for a recruiter to read rather than giving them anxiety. Instead, use dashes or colons to separate thoughts, and avoid caps and special characters like exclamation points.

This is an update of a story originally written by Jenna Goudreau