The days of using snail mail for job search are pretty much over. Most recruiters and hiring managers received hundreds of emails each day from potential job applicants. How can you may your email stand out?

  1. Use a business appropriate email address and account. This means an email address with your name (and no birth year); it also means Gmail or, if you have one, a personal domain. If you do not have a Gmail account, you may want to establish one—even if you just use it for your job search. Make sure your “display name” is appropriate as well. If you are still using AOL, that’s fine—just do not use it for your job search. And don’t use your work email either.
  2. Use a precise subject line; do not leave the subject line blank or simply say “resume” or “job application.” Without clarity, the recipient of your email may delete it without reading or it may end up in spam. You can use a subject line of Budget Manager position / announcement 1234 / Jerome Brown or something similar.
  3. Label your attachments properly. Again, any attachments you include should be labeled for clarity. If you are attaching a resume, your document name should not just say “resume;” include your name. Consider naming your resume Angelina Lopez-Budget Manager Resume; that way, the reader knows what they are opening. And, make it a real attachment, not Dropbox, Google Docs, or other document sharing service. If you do have Word, use PDF.
  4. Use a standard, easy-to-read font. Most employers use Microsoft Word and Outlook. Make sure whatever you are using is truly compatible. Fonts should be standard (Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, etc., and text should be black. Do not use “stationery” or other backgrounds in your email.
  5. Create a signature block for your email. Your signature block should contain your name, email, and phone. You can also include active links to your professional social media accounts such as LinkedIn. Be sure to customize your LinkedIn URL.
  6. Keep your message short. Most people do not read long emails so keep your message to a paragraph or two (perhaps between 90-120 words) and get to the point as quickly as possible.
  7. Review, review, and review again. Ask someone else to proof your email (and attachments, if you’re using them) for you. Spelling and grammar mistakes are as problematic in an email as they are in traditional letters.

Nancy Segal is a federal human resources training and job search expert. Following her own 30-year federal HR career (much of it at the senior level), she founded Solutions for the Workplace LLC in 2003 to provide an HR management perspective to both federal managers and astute applicants to U.S. government positions. Nancy has unmatched federal career management insight, high standards, and respect for people’s time, and her clients use this to their advantage.