Get Your Email Resume Read

As a former editor at a magazine, I have placed a few help wanted ads in my career.  One small ad posted on one job website easily elicits hundreds of cover letters and resumes within a few days. 

It is a daunting task to open your email and have three hundred or more unread letters in your inbox that you know you have to get through because you need to hire someone for an available position.  Then imagine how boring it is to see a very long subject line of nothing but, “Re: Copyediting Job” or  “Freelance Writer”. 

It is so very easy to submit a resume via electronic media today that it seems few people take the time to do a good job.  In the old days of snail mail or faxes, you had to make an effort to tailor a resume and cover letter to a particular employer or job.  Now with email so universal it is taken for granted as a quick way to apply for a job.  But the process of getting a job hasn’t changed.  To get a job offer you must do well in one or more interviews. 

But before an interview can take place, the employer must be impressed with your resume.  And how can you impress someone if your resume is never read?   With hundreds of resumes waiting in someone’s email box, why should your email be read?  Does your resume and cover letter stand out from the rest of the competition in any way?

What many job hunters don’t realize is that you can make a small change right at the beginning of your email, and that can make all the difference. 

The subject line of your email is one way to get noticed and greatly increase the chance that your resume will be read before the others.

As I open the first batch of emails I am certain the right person has sent me their resume, but how do I find it easily?  Whose resume do I open first?  The technique that I have come to use is a small area of the email that many people don’t realize can be used as an effective marketing tool: the subject line of an email. 

While reading the first batch of resumes, I usually find several people who I feel are a good match for the job and I contact them.  If I don’t hire anyone, then I return to the hundreds of resumes I still haven’t read.  But if I do hire someone from those initial contacts, then I no longer have a need to look through any more resumes and I discard the resumes of qualified applicants still unread. 

If there are hundreds of resume waiting to be read, the first ones I open have an interesting subject line which may read “Experienced Copyeditor” or “Copyeditor with 4 years Experience.”  It is extremely time consuming to read hundreds of resumes when your job requires other responsibilities.  Except for recruiters whose job description involves reading hundreds of resumes daily, most people who have to hire someone for a job in their department need shortcuts to finding the right person.  And one way I have found is to check for subject lines that are interesting or at least different from the norm. 

It is a simple thing, but it can work wonders.  Why write “Paralegal Job” when you can write “Trained Litigation Paralegal Seeks Challenging Work."  How about “General Manager with Entrepreneurial Spirit” or “Sales Executive Brings in $700,000 in Sales”.

Briefly describe your accomplishments as they relate to the job.  Mention your years of experience, your training or relevant degrees.  Try “Manager with MBA” or “Copywriter Specializing in Pharmaceuticals” or “Promoted to Vice President of Marketing In 3 Years.”  Find one or two words to describe the job title you are applying for.  If you have never done the job before, mention relevant skills or training. 

If a job code is required, spice it up.  “Job Code 482: Civil Engineer with PhD” or  “Job Code GD2  Graphic Designer with HTML Expertise.” Anything except the usual and the boring will do. 

Even a bit of bragging or humor can help.  How about “Read this resume first” or  “I am the only person for the job.” But your resume must reinforce your claims. Show imagination and creativity in something as simple as the subject line and an employer will see you as someone who cares about the little things and who makes the effort to be memorable. 

In the electronic age you have even less time to make a great first impression.  So do what you can to get your email noticed and your resume read. Little subject lines do mean a lot.

Click here to find a career you can be passionate about

by Louise Banks

Louise Banks is the founder of Stories into Books, a manuscript evaluation service offering detailed written critiques of unpublished books, articles, and short stories.  She is now working on the ebook, The Job Haters’ Club Guide to Starting a Lucrative Editorial Services Business, to be published in early fall. Visit her website at and subscribe to the Job Haters’ Club Newsletter at jobhatersclub-subscribe@ 



Tell a friend about!

Type In Your Name:

Type In Your E-mail:

Your Friend's Name:

Your Friend's E-mail:

Your Comments:

Receive copy:

Use the form above to tell a friend about and you'll get a gift certificate for a discount on any new purchase of a FabJob guide within the next 24 hours.

The information you provide is only used to send an email to your friend. We will not add you or your friend to any mailing list.

Copyright © 2004   All Rights Reserved. 
Contact Us    Privacy Policy