Concept of sending e-mails from your computer

Whether you’re working with an IT staffing firm or seeking out and applying to positions on your own, the use of your email is a huge part of the job search. It’s your first contact with your potential employer and your opportunity to leave a positive first impression. So what is proper etiquette when applying to jobs via email? Who should you address your email to? Should you include your cover letter in the body of the email or attach it along with your resume? And what about the format, should it be sent as a PDF or Word document? In this blog, we’ll answer all of these questions and more.

Use a Professional Email Account

As we mentioned in our opening paragraph, your first opportunity to leave a positive first impression with an employer is through your job application. So don’t leave them scoffing at your email account name. When applying to jobs via email, make sure you’re using an account that’s appropriate for business use (e.g. While no one has ever been hired off of their email name alone, it also shouldn’t keep you from being considered for the position.

Address Your Email Properly

If at all possible, address your email to the hiring manager specifically (Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name). With that being said, however, we know this option doesn’t always exist. In that case, address your email as you would a professional business letter (e.g. Dear Hiring Manager or To Whom It May Concern).

Choose a Clear Subject Line

In the subject line of your email message make it clear which position you are applying to. As an example, if you’re applying to a Software Engineer position the subject line could be as simple as “Software Engineer Position.” There’s no need to overcomplicate it but be sure to avoid spam trigger words and/or phrases to keep your application from being marked as spam/junk mail.

Use Standard Font

When it comes to font, keep it basic – Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri work just fine. And be sure to keep the sizing between 10 and 12 point font. This will ensure your email is easy to read without being too big or too small.

Keep it Formal

If you’re applying to a position via email, it’s imperative that your message comes across as professional. That means avoiding slang terms and acronyms (unless those words/terms are being sought after for the position). You should treat the email as you would a formal business letter.

Be Clear and Concise

As has been stated in our blog before, hiring managers could be spending as little as 20 seconds reviewing your resume. So don’t expect them to spend any more time reading your email. That means you should be as clear and concise as possible in the body of your message. Introduce yourself, mention the position for which you are applying, and state why you would make a good fit for the position (listing this in bullet point fashion makes it even easier on the hiring manager).

Attaching a Cover Letter

While the body of your email can serve the purpose of a cover letter, electing to go the more traditional route is perfectly acceptable (especially if the position requires one). In this case, attach your cover letter as a separate document along with your resume.

Include Contact Information in Your Signature

List your contact information in the signature of your email. Include your full name, your email address, the phone numbers on which you can be reached, and a link to your LinkedIn profile. While this information will no doubt already be listed on your resume, save the hiring manager the extra click when trying to get in touch with you.

Send as a PDF or Word Document?

As an IT staffing firm who at times needs to reformat our candidate’s resumes, having them sent to us a Word document is always preferred – this allows us to edit them. When applying directly to the end-client, however, a PDF document works just fine. PDF’s limit your ability to edit the content and were developed more as a delivery format that can be easily recognized by all platforms. This also helps them keep the author’s intended formatting. So for those applying to graphical design positions – where they have incorporated some of their design work into the resume itself – PDF is the way to go.


Be sure to ALWAYS check and double check your email (and resume/cover letter for that matter) for any spelling and grammatical mistakes. Just about every job description we receive asks for candidates who possess good communication skills. This is your first opportunity to prove that you possess that trait.

So when applying to your next position via email, be sure to follow the advice listed above to ensure your application is considered for the role.

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