In What Future Employers See in Your Email Address, you learned how to present yourself within an employer’s cluttered inbox. Now you just need to write the email itself! Here are some guidelines to help you craft a strong, appealing email that will make you stand out.
Use these pieces to form your own email. If you’re looking for advice on writing emails for specific occasions like networking or resigning, check out the resources linked at the bottom of this article.
Subject line: Give the specific purpose of your email in 6–8 words, such as “Dental Hygienist Job Application—John Doe.” An employer should be able to search and find your email based on its subject. Be careful that the subject doesn’t become a string of “RE: RE: RE:” when replying to previous messages.
Salutation: Address your email to the contact person listed in the job description. Use his/her title and last name, followed by a colon (e.g. Dear Mr. Smith:). If you’re unsure about something, call the company and ask. If that doesn’t work, try one of these solutions to common questions and concerns.
Thank you (optional): If you have spoken with this person recently, thank them for their time. This is not just polite—it will also remind them who you are.
Purpose: Briefly and clearly state why you’re writing. For example, “I am applying for the Administrative Assistant position advertised on [Company]’s website.”
Recommender (optional): Did a current employee at the company suggest that you apply for this position? Did a recruiter? Make sure to give the recommender’s full name for an extra leg up over the competition.
Attachments: List the additional documents you are sending with the email and offer to send them in a different format upon request. When naming attachments, use your name and the document type (e.g. John Doe Resume.pdf).
Closing/Expectations: Say that you are looking forward to further discussion. Specify a date when you will follow up if you have not received any further information regarding your application.
Signature: Block signatures should include your name, preferred phone number, and email address. Optionally, you may add your current job title/major or a link to your LinkedIn profile/online portfolio. Always double-check a signature sent from a mobile device. Regardless of your computer’s email settings, mobile devices might not automatically insert the right signature or could reformat it without warning.
Need more information on writing emails for specific circumstances? Check out one of these iHire resources:
James M. Citrin— How to Write Emails That Will Land You a Job
Virginia Tech— Email Guidelines and Etiquette
Jenna Goudreau— How to Write the Perfect Email Subject Line for Job Hunting
Allison Jones— 13 Helpful Email Templates You Can Use While Job Searching