Use an email subject headline to your advantage when applying for jobs

When you are sending your resume via email to apply for a job, your first instinct might be to keep the email subject line short and simple, like ’resume from [your name/job listing]’ or “application for [insert position/title]. Hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes, so you can use the subject line of your email to gain their attention so that they are curious enough to check out your CV. 

If you’re just starting your job hunt, read on to discover how a professional subject headline in an email can be your best bet when applying for a job, and what to avoid when writing it.

Why are email subject lines important?

Sometimes you send a resume through a referral from a friend or colleague, or an advertisement by the employer, and sometimes it is unsolicited. From students to professionals planning on a career change or relocation, hundreds of qualified candidates apply for the same role that you’re vying for. Imagine the email traffic coming on the recruiting manager’s inbox! 

To ensure that your prospective employer notices, reads, and responds to your email, use the subject line to your advantage, and help your CV stand out. Busy people rarely click on every email as many are spam, could contain viruses, or simply has irrelevant information. The decision to read or delete an email is largely based on how the subject line is formatted. 

Remember that if you omit the email subject for a job application, it may get marked as spam.

If you are sending an unsolicited email, your subject line should be intriguing enough to get you closer to the next step of being called for an interview.

If you are sending a resume via email for a position advertised by the company, make the subject line informative, brief, and professional for the recipient. Both these steps should help inspire the recruiter to consider your application.

How to write a catchy email subject line

  1. It’s time to ditch that email address from seventh grade that says batmanfan34, and opt for a more professional one. Using a separate or professional email address helps you appear more polished right off the bat. 
  2. Your first name and last name should be the same as your official records to add to a professional approach. You can add your name to the subject line as well.
  3. Sometimes employers request specific subject lines such as the position you are applying for or the job ID. Make sure you don’t miss out on any information the recruiter has asked requested.
  4. Some positions come with a job identification number or a specific job title. If so, add them to the subject of your email, even if it’s not requested directly.
  5. The subject line must have brevity and clarity. Do not use filler words and informal language.
  6. Write the subject line in 25 to 30 characters with key information (such as the position/who referred you) at the beginning. Long subject lines get truncated if it’s viewed on the go or on a mobile device. 
  7. The subject line is the first impression you make. Proofread it carefully. 

What to avoid writing in subject lines

  1. Do not use nicknames, internet abbreviations (brb/tbh), informal sentences (like, hey or what’s up). These will flag your mail as unprofessional.
  2. Do not capitalize unnecessarily.
  3. Avoid convoluted language. Be clear.
  4. Avoid writing long subject lines. Many people check emails on mobile devices that can only display about 30 characters.
  5. Since the recipient may not be familiar with you, the subject line is an opportunity to introduce yourself. If you are clear and concise, you will create a fine first impression.

Examples of professional email subject lines

  1. Job Inquiry for Marketing Associate – Ann Harris
  2. Application for job posting #472 — Ann Harris
  3. Ann Harris, Applying for the Marketing Director Position
  4. Ann Harris, Merchandising Expert with 10 years’ experience5. Referral from Linda Brown: Ann Harris, Resume for Marketing Executive Position
  5. Following up on the Marketing Position — Ann Harris

Planning your career? The co-op programs at the Toronto School of Management (TSoM) are worth checking out. They offer a hands-on learning approach preparing students for the business world. The co-op programs offered at TSoM are well-integrated with the Canadian job market, ensuring you have relevant, in-demand industry skills even before you graduate. 

TSoM’s dedicated career services team help students transition from classrooms to the corporate world. Discover the benefits of student success-oriented services with one-on-one resume assistance, career development workshops, trade shows, networking events, and job fairs at TSoM.