Your Career Q&A: Make Your E-Mail Work for You


By Martin Yate December 17, 2018

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.   

Note from Martin: A reader sent me a resume and asked for recommendations to improve it. I've already discussed many of my suggested fixes in previous articles, but two new points jumped out at me. Here are some things I noticed in that resume that we should all pay serious attention to.

When you use the direct research and approach tactics that we discussed last week—enabling you to avoid resume banks and make direct contact with hiring managers—the structure of your e-mails takes on greater importance. Your e-mail address and subject line are the first things employers see. Customized properly, e-mails can quickly arouse employers' interest. Take advantage of this first impression and turn your e-mail address and subject line into a highly condensed resume. I'll show you how.

Your E-mail Address

Separate personal e-mail from business e-mail. Use a professional address for your career contacts, and something more informal for friends and family.

E-mail providers typically allow you a number of addresses, so take advantage of this and add an e-mail account devoted exclusively to your job search and career management affairs.

Your email address can act as a brand identifier and headline to tell the reader who is reaching out. Try a profession-relevant address that speaks to your professional identity like or

When names like those above are already taken, you will be encour­aged to accept something like You can do better; instead try adding your area code, your zip code, or your town or state,, all of which would tell a recipient who you are: an experienced HR generalist living in the area.

You might also try an address that is even more profession specific: is an experienced HR Information Management professional who lives close by.

In a competitive job search, the little things can make a big difference. The way you introduce yourself with your email address demonstrates both analytical and communication skills.

Subject Lines Get Your E-mail Opened

In any written communication, a headline acts to grab your attention and draw the you into the message. To recruiters and hiring managers, the right subject line can make the difference between your e-mail getting read or trashed.

If you are responding to a job posting, the job title and job posting number are useful subject line material. You can combine the job post information with a brief marketing pitch about your credentials: "HR Accounting Manager—CPA/MBA/8 years' experience. Posting 2314—MIT Grad interested."

If you are approaching recruiters and hiring managers directly, you don't identify a job posting number. Instead, your subject line reflects your skills as they match the needs stated in the job ad: "HR Management—12 years' HR, 6 years' HR Management" or "Benefits Consultant—Insurance & Corporate."

Pulling This All Together

When you use a profession-specific e-mail address like with a subject line such as "HR Management—12 years' HR, 7 years' HR Management EEOC, FLSA," then you have a condensed resume that says who you are and what you can do. If there's a job opening, your e-mail is going to get read.

Was this article useful? SHRM offers thousands of tools, templates and other exclusive member benefits, including compliance updates, sample policies, HR expert advice, education discounts, a growing online member community and much more. Join/Renew Now and let SHRM help you work smarter. 

Packed with practical, honest, real-world guidance for successfully navigating common HR career challenges, Martin Yate's new book The HR Career Guide: Great Answers to Tough Career Questions is available at the SHRMStore. Order your copy today!



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