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 How to Get Them to Read Your E-Mail

By Joe Stein

In today’s world, so much contact is done both personally and professionally in an electronic manner.  Our personal life is dominated with texting and social media, while on the business side we are probably a little behind and still rely heavily on e-mail communication.  The world of job seeking is no different. In fact, many Recruiters and Hiring Managers go to great lengths in their attempt to avoid direct contact with candidates.

This can bring a real challenge for job seekers, however, in figuring out a way to get his or her message in front of the reader.  In previous generations, you would actually walk-in to the place of business or give a call (both of which can still be done in some circumstances).  By doing this you knew that the recipient received your message.  Times are changing and increasingly either due to a virtual work environment or just heavy screening of outside contact, making e-mail the only way to deliver a message. 

The goal is to not only have the right person receive your e-mail, but also to open it and review the content.  Recruiters are flooded with e-mails every day and they have to try to manage it in the most effective way possible.  If they are like most, they receive much more than they could possibly open during the course of a workday.  So how do you increase your odds of having your e-mail reviewed?  The following are some easy tips that can help you stand out amongst the list of unopened e-mail.

• Use a Direct and Correct E-Mail:  You can increase your odds significantly if you can send your e-mail directly to a person.  With many companies, they either direct you to apply online or have set up a generic e-mail dedicated for resume submissions.  Either one of those works for formally applying and in the case of an applicant tracking system, you may not have a choice in regards to the process.  You will want, however, to try to send a follow-up with your resume directly to the responsible person, to increase your odds of review.

• Your E-Mail Address Should Be Recognizable – Use an e-mail address that matches your name (or as close as possible).  This way if you send an e-mail to follow-up on your submission, the Recruiter may recall having seen your resume and will open.  An added feature to doing this is that it insures that your will have a professional looking e-mail address rather than something that will be embarrassing.

• Have a Clear and Informative Subject Line – When a Recruiter is scanning a list of unopened e-mail, they will focus on the subject lines.  You will want to select a subject line that catches the attention of the reader.  One suggestion is to place your name and the position you are interested in right in the subject line.  This also allows a Recruiter later on to easily search for the e-mail you sent if he or she desires to reference it. (This is done automatically for you when applying through the website)

• Be Concise – Recruiters have so much to do each day.  A long e-mail (even if it is well done) may solicit a sigh and a decision to read it some other time when there is more time.  Problem is that day will probably never come and although the e-mail was opened, it really was never read.  If you are sending an e-mail, be concise in its content.  Anything more than a couple of paragraphs in the body of the e-mail will probably prove too much to consume in one sitting and will therefore be filed.

• Timing is everything – The rate that people open e-mail vary greatly over the course of a workday.  E-mails sent during the middle of the workday will often be ignored, simply because the recipient is too busy with the activity of his/her schedule.  I suggest sending e-mail very early in the morning (or late at night) so that it will be at the top of the list when a person logs in.  You may also have luck near the end of the workday, as people try to finish up before going home.  The day of the week can also matter.  For reasons I can’t quite explain, Thursday is often quoted as being the best day to have your e-mail read.  I would guess that people often are loaded with meetings the front end of the week and then on Friday are frantically trying to complete work prior to the weekend.  In any case, it is a good bet that if your e-mail is not read pretty quickly (as in the first 24 hours from sending),  it probably will be missed.

Sometimes, it seems like everything was so much simpler years ago.  As we obtain more technology to make our lives easier, it actually becomes more complex.  Something as simple as making contact with a Recruiter or Hiring Manager has now reached a point where the primary initial contact is via technology and requires a strategy to make it effective.  Review the tips noted above, and select those that best fit for you in order to get your e-mails read.

As always, best of luck in your job search!