Are Employers Reading Your Emails?

Before you press send on an email to a decision maker you are hoping to connect with, ask yourself a few questions.

1. Does your email address look like it’s coming from a credible sender? Imagine the person on the other end of that email making a decision whether or not to risk opening an email based on your handle. Is it professional? Does it look like a legitimate account?

2. How aggressive is the spam filter on your own email? Some email account providers such as AT&T and SBC Global have very sensitive filters. How do I know? Because I couldn’t get my emails to go through to account holders I was attempting to contact. The aggressive filters are great for avoiding spam and viruses so long as potential employers aren’t inadvertently screened out too. I got around the problem by contacting the companies and asking them to allow my emails through to users. Will all employers do that? It would be wise to set up something like a Google Mail account to use exclusively for your job search to avoid this problem and still have a professional account source.

3. What would it be like to read your email on a phone screen? There is no way around it, many of the emails we send these days are now read from hand held devices. Guess what that means. The shorter the better.

4. How effectively have you used your subject line? The subject line helps decision makers with two things. First, it helps them to know if the email might be spam. Blank subject lines and those with titles like “Greetings,” “For Your Review,” “Awaiting Your Reply,” and “Thanks” have a tendency to smell of junk mail if the sender isn’t well known to the recipient. Consider how you scroll through your own email and identify spam and make sure your subject line looks nothing like those. Second, the subject line gives the recipient an idea of what’s there so they can better decide when to open it and enjoy an easier time finding it later. Some job seekers have said to me they want contacts to open their emails immediately so they want to build urgency around them and not give the decision maker the temptation to postpone reading their email. As a person who receives tons of emails a day, let me tell you the worst thing that can happen is me opening an email that is lower on the priority scale at a busy time. I’m much more likely to forget about it and never revisit the email. If I can tell what it is, I can make the decision to leave it unread until I have more time to deal with it appropriately. That’s a win for both parties.


  • Scot Richards says:

    Hello! Here is a copy of a subject line I used recently.
    “Follow up – Quality Assurance Analyst position – from Scot Richards”
    I try to cover the “why” (follow-up), the “what” (position description) and the “who” (me) in the subject line. As a person who used to get 100 emails a day, I felt the least I could do was to help the recipient with enough information to make a prioritizing decision.

    What do you think? Could my strategy be better? I would appreciate your experienced input.



  • Lisa says:

    Scot, for me that is an excellent subject line. I’d love to have something that clear in my inbox. Of course, this is my personal opinion.

  • As a potential employer, job candidates find us one of two ways: by referral or randomly, through our contact form on our website. We take a serious look at the folks who are personally referred to us and although we may not have a fit for them at the time, we place them near the top of the pile in case we need to look for them later.

    As for the random hopefuls that solicit our attention through our website, they get substantially less consideration if they approach us without their whole package. If they simply ask us if we have any availability, they’re likely to get a friendly “no, not at this time, but thanks for asking.”

    If, however, they have an online portfolio that illustrates their web design and print layout experience, NOW they MIGHT have our attention (quality of work withstanding.) At that point, they’ve proven they have the skills and the experience we would seek to put in front of our clients. In essence, if they answer some of the basic questions with PROOF then, yes, they MAY become a candidate during a “cold call.”

  • Lisa says:

    Matt, thanks for stopping by and sharing some insight as a potential employer.

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