Hiring managers are inundated with resumes. Before opening a resume, they critique the email that it comes with. This means your email address, your written communication, your spelling, and your attitude are all evaluated, before they even look at your resume.

In reading Lazlo Bock’s NY Times Best-selling Book, WORK Rules, I learned some valuable tools.

There are even issues you can’t possibly foresee, like unconscious bias, that make the journey between your “send” button and an interviewer’s “reply” button a strange and difficult to navigate space. Here are five ways you can stand out in your email that could help tilt fate in your favor.

  1. Start it out and finish professionally. This begins with researching who the email is going to. Most sites have “generic” email addresses as a HR@NicoleSmartt.com or info@nicolesmartt.com. Nowadays with a Google search, you don’t even have to be a competent researcher to find the right contact information. Look for the company’s website (try the “team,” “about us” or employee page), on LinkedIn, and of course, a Google search. If you still have no luck finding the specific individual who will read your email, then start your message something like this.
    1. Dear Hiring Manager,
    2. Dear ……
  2. Content is Queen: Keep it simple, to the point, and short. According to research released in 2012, the average hiring manager spends less than 6.25 seconds looking at a candidate’s resume before making a decision to interview them or not. Highlight why you are the most qualified for the job by giving just a few specifics such as “in my roles as (position related to the one you’re applying for) I utilized (other relevant skill)”. As Lazlo notes in the above linked article, “start with an active verb, numerically measure what you accomplished, provide a baseline for comparison, and detail what you did to achieve your goal.” Keep it concise, but put out the most relevant and best-looking information first.
  3. Research is Paramount: if you haven’t thoroughly researched both the position you’re interviewing for and the company itself, you won’t be in a strong position to decide how to angle your content. Think of it like this: the email is your chance to state your hypothesis (which is “I am the best person for this job”) and your resume and interview are the proof.
  4. Close with a power statement: End your email with creativity. Creatively work in a statement from the website, job ad, or something you’ve come up with. I like when candidates relate to our core values. It proves they’ve done their homework, and they align with our values and have thought about how they can add to our company’s culture.
  5. Use Critical Characteristics: Characteristics are important. The characteristics I’ve found to be best are integrity, independence, stress tolerance, conflict resolution, work ethic, attention to detail, adaptability, dependability, cooperation, persistence, moral behavior, safety behavior, initiative, retention, and determination. See how you can work these into a description of yourself (in the email and on your resume).