Use Your Email Subject Line As Resume and Door Opener

email subject line resumeYou want to get into conversation with recruiters and hiring managers as quickly and as often as you can, because initiating conversation is the fastest route to job interviews, job offers and out of this damn job search.

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Whenever you find the name of a headhunter or hiring manager, email is likely going to be your first line of approach.

But in an age when email has become the world's pre-eminent communication tool, we all flounder in oceans of unwanted communications. To a recruiter or hiring manager you are an unknown correspondent, so your subject line can make the difference between a careful reading of your message and instant deletion.

With e-mail, the Subject Line is your attention grabber; it's your headline and your advertising pitch. In the same way that headlines on blogs, articles, books, and movies are used to grab readers' attention and draw them into the story, your subject line is what draws the reader into your e-mail. It needs to be intriguing, concise, and should allow the recipient to immediately recognize who you are and what you want, and you have to achieve this goal with limited space.

The subject line in an email inbox typically reveal about 60 characters, you need to take advantage of this advertising space and can do better than settle for subject lines that state, "Resume" or "Jim Smith's Resume." If you are responding to a job posting, the job title and job posting number are useful as a start, you can add the credentials that you know are important from your reading of the job posting.

For example:

  • Financial Analyst posting #MB450-CPA/MBA/8 yrs exp
  • Posting # 2314-MIT Grad is interested
  • Job #6745-Top performing sales professional wants to talk

If there is no job posting to refer to:

  • IT Manager-7 yrs IT Consulting
  • Benefits Consultant-Nonprofit Exp in NY
  • Referral from Tony Banks-Product Management Job

The Subject Line Resume

You actually have enough space to turn your subject line into a condensed two-part resume.

Part One. The subject line of an unopened email in the average inbox will typically reveal a maximum of 60 characters. You want to get the most compelling information into less than 60 characters. This example uses 48 characters, with spaces:

Your next Reg HR Manager-EEOC, FLSA, & ADA exp

Part Two. An opened message will show usually show up to 150 characters, so an expanded subject line that captures more critical skills can act as a condensed resume. This example has an expanded subject line that comes in at 148 characters, including spaces.

Your next Reg HR Manager-EEOC, FLSA, ADA, OSHA. 10 years exp includes arbitration, campus, executive recruitment, selection, compensation, T&D

When you take full advantage of the available space in email subject lines, you can deliver a relevant and compelling headline that draws the reader into the message of your email with a condensed version of your resume.

Try it, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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Martin Yate


Martin Yate, CPC, author of Knock 'em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, is a New York Times and international bestseller of job search and career management books. He is the author of 11 job search and career management books published throughout the English speaking world and in over 50 foreign language editions. Over thirty years in career management, including stints as an international technology headhunter, head of HR for a publicly traded company and Director of Training and Development for an international employment services organization.

Within the profession he has a global reputation as the thought leader on job search and career management issues. He has lectured on four continents and has maintained a coaching practice since 1991.

The current recession is the 5th he has helped people navigate over the last 30 years.

For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

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