What to Put in the Subject Line of an Email Cover Letter

by Lauren Treadwell; Updated September 26, 2017
Portrait of successful businessman at the interview

Employers often place job ads on their company websites or on job search or classified ad websites. Sometimes, you must apply through a specific website, while other times you can respond to the ad via email. An email subject line lets potential employers know exactly why you are contacting them. Although a creative subject line may work for some jobs, most employers prefer a professional, straightforward subject line.

The Position

Putting the position for which you are applying in the subject line is helpful if the employer has more than one job opening. It's also a good default if the job ad doesn't specify a subject line. Type in the name of the position followed by the word, "opportunity," "inquiry" or simply, "position."

Job Posting Number

If the employer provided a job posting number in the job ad, include it in the subject line. You may also include the title of the position. Do not include the job posting number from a job search or classified ad website because these numbers are usually only for use on that particular website.

Your Name

Putting your name in the subject line can help the employer find your resume easily if he wants to give you a second look. Unless the ad specifically requests only your name in the subject line, always include the job for which you're applying or the job posting number before your name. Separate them with a slash, dash or colon.

Attention To A Specific Person

If the ad provided a contact name or, if through your research of the company, you find out the name of the person responsible for hiring, you should include it in the subject line. Typing “Attention: Person's Name" followed by the name of the position for which you are applying is usually sufficient.

Specific Request

Some jobs ads specify how you should format the subject line. If so, make note of the exact wording, spelling and punctuation of the request and adhere to it. Not following directions pertaining to the email subject line is often cause for the reviewer to discard your application without opening it.

About the Author

Lauren Treadwell studied finance at Western Governors University and is an associate of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Treadwell provides content to a number of prominent organizations, including Wise Bread, FindLaw and Discover Financial. As a high school student, she offered financial literacy lessons to fellow students.

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