shutterstock_250745089AS A PROFESSIONAL HEADHUNTER I GET LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF EMAILS EACH AND EVERY BUSINESS DAY FROM POTENTIAL CANDIDATES FOR POSITIONS I AM ATTEMPTING TO FILL for our recruiting firm’s hiring company clients. Here is a sad, depressing, discouraging fact about the overwhelming majority of these emails: Most are very poorly written and constructed, confused and confusing, and seemed designed more to defy their being read than to invite the reading of them.

The fate of such job search emails? Within seconds they are hit with the big DELETE key and disappear into the ether, never to be seen or heard of again. Most hiring professionals, including me, simply don’t have the time (or patience) to wade through such emails in hopes of perhaps finding a few “diamonds” that might actually be lurking in such a HUGE coal mine.

In this post I am going to show you (and tell you) the basics of how to vastly improve the chances that your job search emails will actually get opened, read, and responded to by hiring professionals.


By far the most important component of your email is the subject line. It is similar to a headline or title at the top of an article or blog. If the subject line is not strong enough, compelling enough, to immediately grab the recipient’s attention, it is extremely unlikely that your email will get opened, which of course also means it won’t get read!

Here are just a few examples of the types of subject lines that will practically guarantee that your emails will not be opened and read:

  • Skip Freeman’s résumé and cover letter
  • Response to your job posting
  • I heard you were hiring
  • Your plant manager position

Here are a few examples of the types of subject lines that are far more likely to get your email opened:

  • Quick note regarding your August 5th news release
  • Your article in Engineering Technology
  • Savvy driver of new business
  • Backlog increasing? I can help
  • Is XYZ’s new product affecting ABC’s market share?
  • Decreasing fiberglass scrap by 27 percent

Why do subject lines such as these vastly improve open rates? Because they suggest powerful, current topics that are relevant to the email recipient. In other words, these subject lines suggest not what’s in it for the candidate, but rather, what’s in it for the hiring manager, headhunter or other hiring professional to whom the email was sent. Big difference!


Assuming that the subject line of your email is indeed compelling enough to get it opened, you will then have to deliver, in the body copy, that which you “promised” in the subject line. That is, you will have to ensure that you properly and quickly brand/position yourself  as someone the hiring professional (or company) must at least consider as a viable candidate. You will also have to stress what you can—and will!—do, specifically, that will benefit the hiring company, if selected for the position.

Here is an actual example of a job search email that popped up in my inbox toward the end of last week:

Subject line:

Following up on my application

Body copy:

Just wanted to follow up on my application for the sales position you have advertised on I recently sent you my résumé and cover letter. Did you get them?

I am very interested in this position and think it could be the next logical step I should take in my career.

Thank you, and please give me a call at 123-456-7890, if you should have questions or need more information.

How is this email woefully inadequate, literally a gross waste of the candidate’s time and effort? Oh, let me count the ways!

First, there is absolutely nothing about the subject line that could be expected to make any hiring professional be tempted to open it.

Second, since our executive recruiting firm, The HTW (Hire to Win) Group, gets literally hundreds of emails each day from potential candidates, we would have to dig deep indeed to locate this person’s “application,” assuming we were so inclined  to do so. (We wouldn’t be!).

Third, thank goodness, we usually have far more than ONE sales position we are trying to fill at any given point in time. So, to which sales position was this candidate actually referring? (We have no idea and don’t have the time or inclination to find out.)

And finally, notice that the predominant focus of the email message is on the candidate’s needs and desires, e.g., “I am very interested . . . ,” “it could be the next logical step I should take . . . , “give me a call. . . .” No indication whatsoever regarding what the candidate may have to offer the hiring professional or the company!

Now, assuming that the candidate could produce quantifiable evidence of his career accomplishments and achievements, here is how the email could have been crafted:

Subject line:

Experienced, Proven TOP Producer for Your Phoenix Sales Position

Body copy:

If you seek a proven TOP salesperson for your chemical sales position in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area we should talk! I have been in chemical sales with my current company for the last ten years, and during that period I have increased my annual sales volume by an average of at least five percent. I am currently on pace for a ten percent increase this year. And I have the numbers to prove it.

I can do the same for your Phoenix company!

I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this career opportunity with you at the earliest possible time. I can be reached at 123-456-7890.

Look forward to speaking with you soon!

If you were a hiring professional, wouldn’t you be far more inclined to open—and read!—this email than the one that was actually sent? Wouldn’t you be far more inclined to actually contact the potential candidate who wrote the email?


Other things to keep in mind, and put into practice, when crafting your job search emails include the following:

  • Always address the email to a specific person in the salutation, e.g., “Dear Mr. Smith:” Never, never, never use “To Whom It May Concern:” If you won’t take the time to learn the name of the person to whom you should send the email, chances are very good that he/she won’t take the time to read it.
  • Obviously, make sure you use correct grammar and that there are no misspellings in the email.
  • Keep it pointed, focused and brief, which usually means keeping the body of the email “above the fold.” (I am well aware that this can mean different things, depending upon the device on which the email is being read.)

As I indicated at the top of this post, these are just some of the basics involved in crafting job search emails that are far more likely to get opened, read, and responded to by a hiring professional. (I go into much greater, more specific detail in Career Stalled?, “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets and some of the other publications in the “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets Series of Career Development & Management Publications.)

If you will begin implementing the suggestions I make here in your job search emails, I can absolutely guarantee that you will see a vast improvement in open, read and response rates!


This post is based on career management information and advice featured in Career Stalled? How to Get YOUR Career Back in HIGH Gear and Land the Job You Deserve—Your DREAM Job!, Skip’s most recent book in the “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets Series of Career Development & Management Publications.

Would you like to receive a FREE evaluation copy (PDF format featuring entire book content) of Career Stalled? via email? Shoot an email to my editor and co-author, Michael Garee, at (Copy & paste email address into your email client.) All we ask in return is that, once you have had an opportunity to review the book, you go on and write an honest review of it—good, bad or indifferent. Thank you!


Going on a job interview soon? Know someone who is? Check out Skip’s “How to ACE the Job Interview!” Kindle publication on