Your Email Etiquette Can Make or Break Your Job Search

When searching for a job, writing an email that is professional, concise, and appealing is an important way to attract a hiring manager’s attention. In a career, well-written emails impress supervisors, co-workers, and clients. Employment-related emails should be written as carefully as business letters printed on paper. 

Common Types of Employment-Related Emails  

Job Inquiry Email

Job inquiry emails can be either solicited emails (writing in response to a job posting) or unsolicited emails (expressing interest in a company and inquiring about a possible opening for a specific position). 

Application Follow-Up Email

A follow-up email is sent one week after applying to inquire about the status of your application and to let the employer know that you are still interested in the job.

Cover Letter Email

As part of a job application, a cover letter written as an email may be requested or a cover letter, along with a resume, may be required as an email attachment. Check the employer’s instructions carefully.

Thank You Email

A thank-you email can be sent immediately following an online or in-person interview; thanking the interviewer(s) leaves a positive impression and helps a person stand out from the other job applicants.

Email Basics for a Successful Job Search

  • Set up a separate email account for your job search, different from your personal or work account.

  • Use a professional-sounding email address. Your full name or last name are good choices (e.g., or  (Doyle 2019b).

  • Always send a test message to yourself first before sending an email to a prospective employer to be sure it will transmit correctly.

  • Check your email account frequently, including the spam folder, when waiting for emails from employers so you will see any incoming emails and be able to reply promptly.

Formatting Guidelines for Business Emails  

For All Business Emails 

  • Choose a readable font style and size: Sans Serif, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Georgia, or Times New Roman; use 11 or 12 in MS Word or “Normal” email font size.

  • Always include a clear, informative subject line.

  • Use a salutation and a friendly closing, especially if contacting someone for the first time.

  • Avoid using emoticons, abbreviations, slang, or colored fonts.

For Job Search Emails

  • Use a formal salutation (“Dear” or “Hello”) with the contact person’s name or “Dear Human Resource Director.”

  • Use a maximum of two to three brief paragraphs (three to four sentences each).

  • Use an email signature with your contact information (email address, mailing address, and phone number) (Doyle 2019b).

Creating the Subject Line and Email Signature for a Job Search

  • Subject line: The subject line should clearly identify the purpose of your email and your name. Otherwise, your email may be overlooked or end up in a spam folder. Examples: (Doyle 2019b)

Subject:  Veterinary Technician Position-Antonio Martinis

Subject:  Job Posting #431-Sous Chef

Subject:  Application for Sales Manager Position-Susan Johnson

Subject:  Thank You-Radiology Technician Interview

  • Email Signature: The signature at the end of your email should include the following information (Doyle 2019b): 

Your Name

Email Address

Mailing Address

Phone Number

[LinkedIn URL]     (optional)

[Website URL]     (optional)

Example of a Professional Cover Letter Email (Doyle 2019a):

Subject: Name of Job Position-Firstname Lastname

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Lastname: 

[The first paragraph of an email cover letter should mention the job position the person is applying for, the company name, and where the job was posted. If referred by someone from the company or acquainted with an employee in good standing, the person should mention that acquaintance here. The paragraph should end with one skill or accomplishment that the person has that matches a requirement in the job posting.]

[The second paragraph should briefly describe the applicant’s abilities, along with examples which show why they would be a good choice for filling the position.]

[The last paragraph should mention the resume and the job position title again, request that the company contact the applicant to discuss the job opportunity further, mention a final reason to consider the person for the job, and thank the company for considering them for the job.]

Sincerely/Sincerely yours/With appreciation,

Firstname Lastname

email address

mailing address

phone number

Enclosure [This should be used if another document, such as a resume or references, will be enclosed.]




Sources: Adapted from Doyle, A. (2019a, December 11).  Sample email message formats for job searching. 

Adapted from Doyle, A. (2019b, November 20).  Tips for sending email when you're job hunting.

Revised 27 June 2024

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Article ID: 114531
Fri 8/21/20 7:43 PM
Tue 7/2/24 12:31 PM

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