Would YOU Open Your Job-Prospecting Emails? Not Likely!

Job SearchNetworkingPersonal Branding

If you’ve been on a job search recently you already know that today it is rare indeed that a hiring manager, Human Resources professional or a “headhunter” ever answers his or her telephone.
More likely, you encounter voice mail, leave a message (or messages!), then wait and wait and wait for a call-back, which may or may not come, depending largely upon the quality of the voice mail message you leave. It will probably come as no surprise to you, then, that you’re just as likely to face the same fate when it comes to your job-prospecting emails. Rarely, if ever, do you get any response at all from them!

But there really is a very good reason why this is true: While your job-prospecting emails may certainly be an exception to the rule, the fact is, most of these emails are so poorly constructed and so totally unfocused that even the sender would be unlikely to open them, let alone actually read them!

As in all communications (verbal and written) during the job search, if an email doesn’t immediately give the hiring professional what I refer to as “cause for pause,” it usually is summarily hit with the big DELETE key! No exceptions. Today’s busy hiring professionals simply do not have the time—or the patience—to waste time and effort on any communication that doesn’t immediately grab and keep their attention. Let me briefly focus on how you can accomplish that goal with your job-prospecting emails.

Basic Considerations for Effective Job-Prospecting Emails

  • Use a compelling email subject line that will significantly improve the odds that your email will, first and foremost, actually get opened by a hiring professional.
  • Make sure that you properly brand yourself and use the right kind of message, i.e., a message that clearly and quickly conveys what you can do for the hiring professional and his/her company, not what they can do for you, in the body copy of the email.
  • Make your email communications an integral part of your overall “touch plan,” i.e., the contacts (telephone, email, direct mail, etc.) you make with a given hiring professional during your job search.
  • Send the email to the correct email address and to a specific person.

Now, let’s briefly examine each of these basic considerations involved in the approach to effective email prospecting/marketing.

The Subject Line

By far, the most important part of your email is the subject line. If the subject line is not strong enough to get the email opened, then obviously, it doesn’t matter what message is actually contained in the body of the email, does it? The email simply will not be read!

Here are some actual, real-life examples of the types of subject lines that I (and every other hiring professional, by the way) see each and every business day, and which will practically guarantee  that your emails will not be opened, let alone read:

  • My résumé and cover letter
  • Response to your job posting
  • I heard you were hiring
  • Your Plant Manager position

And, of course, the list goes on and on. Most of these types of subject lines face one of two fates: They instantly get hit with the DELETE key or they are automatically forwarded to Human Resources, where they can easily—and very quickly!—disappear into a “black hole.”

Here are some examples of subject lines that are far more likely to get your emails 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

Subject lines such as these work 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 you, but rather, what’s in it for the hiring professional and the hiring company! Big difference.

Certainly, you’re interested in the company hiring you, but guess what? That’s not what the company is interested in at all! As a matter of fact, keep this in mind: No company—and I do mean no company!—is in the business of hiring you or anyone else! Remember, the business every company is in is making money, or at least it better be or the company won’t survive. So, it’s entirely up to you to convince a potential employer of one of two things (or both):

  • That you can make the company money; or,
  • That you can save the company money.

Usually, everything else is merely unwanted, unwelcome “noise” to a hiring professional and his/her company.

Body of the Email

Assuming that the subject line of your email is indeed so compelling that it actually gets the email opened, you will then have to “deliver,” in the body copy, that which is “promised” in the subject line. That is, you will have to ensure that you properly and quickly brand yourself as someone the company simply must at least consider hiring, as well as stress what, specifically, you can do that will benefit the company in the message portion of your email. (By the way, make sure all of your emails are “above the scroll.” Emails that look novel-length almost always are immediately hit with the DELETE key because hiring professionals simply don’t have the time or the patience to wade through lengthy emails.)

Here is an actual example of the email body copy a candidate The HTW Group was coaching proposed sending to a potential employer in Nashville, TN:

“Dear Chuck,

“Just wanted to follow up on my application regarding the sales marketing coordination position.

“Please don’t hesitate to email me or call me at 678-234-5678 if you have questions.



After our coaching and recommendations, here is the body copy that was ultimately contained in the email (she got an interview AND, soon thereafter, the job!):

Dear Mr. Daniels:

“With the new Headliners Grill opening, and the 75th Birthday Bash coming up in October, I know the XYZ Entertainment marketing team is very busy! Which is why ‘ya’ll’ need some of my creativity, skills, time and energy as the sales and marketing coordinator J

“I hope to hear from the HR department and ‘ya’ll’ soon so I can begin helping you with all of the exciting XYZ events!

“Thank You!

“Amy Smith (Cell: 678-234-5678)”

If you were the hiring manager for this particular position, which email would you have been more likely to a.) Read; and b.) Actually respond to?

Make Your Emails Part of an Overall ‘Touch Plan’

As is the case with every element of your overall personal job marketing plan, remember, an email should be an integral part of your overall “touch plan.” In order to successfully reach a hiring professional, you should “touch” him or her about every ten days with some type of planned, creative communication/contact. I have found that this frequency generally brands a candidate as being persistent and assertive without being overly aggressive, tedious or bothersome. This presupposes, of course, that these “touches” consist of messages that convey an attempt to deliver value to the hiring manager and his/her company, not as suggestive of what the company can do for you, the candidate.


This post is a modified excerpt from Skip’s latest book in the “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets Series of Career Development/Management Publications, Career Stalled? How to get YOUR Career Back in HIGH Gear and Land the Job You Deserve—Your DREAM Job! Available NOW on Amazon.com, in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Going on a job interview soon? Know someone who is? Download Skip’s FREE “How to ACE the Job Interview!” publication by clicking HERE. Learn how to interview the way Superstars do!