Email Your Resume Like a Pro

First impressions matter. When does the first impression begin on your job search? At the interview? On your resume? Both are important, but the process usually begins with an email. In this post, learn how to email your resume like a pro by recognizing–and fixing–common mistakes.

Your resume is a valuable letter, and your email is the envelope. When you flip through your mail, you toss many letters before you even open them, right? Same goes for resumes.

As a recruiter, I’ve reviewed 50,000+ resumes over the last 20 years, almost all over email. I want to share with you what really works and what really doesn’t.

5 things recruiters DON’T like

When you email your resume, avoid these mistakes:

1. Poor subject line

“Looking for a good opportunity,” or “Resume” doesn’t help me, the reader, understand what I’m reading. I want context. I want to know what you’re about.

The fix: Use your subject line strategically: “John Talley – Marketing Manager candidate (Nabisco/Dell/MBA – Boston).” In a quick scan, this tells me your name, the role you are interested in, a quick plug for your past experiment, and where you’d like to work.

2. Distracting file name.

It bugs me when candidates name their resume with useless info (John_Talley_resumeV4.02014marketingversion.docx) or too little info (JT CV.docx orresume.docx). Even worse is when the file is saved in an uncommon format, like Pages or InDesign.

The fix: Use a simple name (John Talley resume), and save it as a Word doc or PDF.

3. Impersonal introduction

Starting out with a generic salutation to “Recruiter” or “To Whom It May Concern,” or just diving into the email with no greeting makes the email feel like spam.

The fix: When possible, use someone’s name. We all love hearing our name, and you should know who the email is going to. If possible, include a one-sentence personal connection with the company/brand, or a brief story to help stand out and demonstrate that you’ve done your research.

4. Long, rambling, unfocused text

More is not more. Recruiters don’t read long paragraphs. You get a few seconds to capture attention. If your email falls short by running long, your resume may never even get opened.

The fix: Copy your resume Top Third pitch section (overview + skill summary) and paste it below the intro line. This shows focus, and the content will align with your resume story.

5. No call to action

Some emails make the reader work too hard to figure out how to reach you or learn more about you.

The fix: Add your contact info at bottom (cell/email/LinkedIn profile link). If you have a relevant online portfolio, include a link (design/coding/marketing). In addition, include something like:

I realize you are reviewing many people for this role, but if you were interested in connecting, I am flexible and available for a phone conversation later this week on Thursday (10pm–3pm) or Friday (8am–noon) at 425-555-1212 (cell).

If a recruiter is interested in talking—or perhaps on the fence—this makes it that much easier to know when you are next available and the best number to reach you.


For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips