Have you ever gotten an email and immediately dreaded opening it? Maybe the email header was overly vague and you don’t like surprises, maybe it came across too pushy, or maybe it bombarded you with custom emojis to the point where you could barely even read it. The point being: Don’t let that unopened email be yours!
The right subject line can make or break an email. A good subject line can be the deciding factor in whether someone replies to your email, how long it takes them to respond, and even whether they open it in the first place. To maximize the open rates on your emails — and make everyone’s lives a little easier — here are some of our top subject lines to use in your job search.
What makes a good subject line?
First and foremost, a good email header needs to catch people’s attention. That means avoiding very generic or nondescript titles, like “Hello,” or “Job application.” Ideally, your subject line should give the recipient enough of an idea of what’s inside to know that they want to open it without making the email itself unnecessary. The tricky part is straddling the line between piquing the person’s interest (good) and turning them off (bad) — in other words, stay away from gimmicks like emojis, random fonts or colors, and being overly pushy or informal.
To help you strike that perfect balance, here are some email subject line templates you can use in just about any situation.
Examples of strong email subject lines
Following up on a job application
If you’ve sent in a job application and haven’t heard anything back, it can sometimes be okay to send a follow up email to check up on it. You don’t need to do this for every application, but if you’re well into the process (especially if you’ve already had an interview) and it’s past the stated time frame, a gentle nudge could prevent your application from slipping through the cracks.
Following up on my application for [Position] at [Company Name]
Email subject lines don’t always have to be complicated! A clear, concise subject line tells the recruiter exactly what your email is about and makes it easy to respond.
[Position] — [Your Name]
Putting your name in the subject line can sometimes jog a hiring manager’s memory without them even having to read your email.
[Job posting #ID] — [Position]
If the job you applied for had a reference ID, including that information makes it even easier for the recruiter to know exactly what job you’re talking about. This foes double if you’ve applied to a large company or one with multiple open positions.
Referred by [Reference] for [Position]
If you were referred to a position that you’re still waiting to hear back from, emphasizing that in your subject line can make it more likely that you’ll get a response.
For more tips and email templates, check out our guide on how to follow up after a job application.
Asking for informational interview
If you don’t have a lot of experience in the industry you’re applying to — like if you’re a recent grad or career changer — informational interviews are a great way to gain some insight into the field and make connections at the same time. Always remember that you’re asking for a favor, so be flexible and respect potential constraints on their time.
Hi from a fellow alumni
If you’re reaching out to someone in your alumni network, letting them know about the shared connection upfront can make them more likely to respond to you.
[University] grad seeking career advice
Establishing a common interest — even if it’s just the industry the two of you share or the university you both attended — can make a big difference, especially if you’re cold emailing.
Career changer interested in [industry]
Most people are willing to help you out as long as they know why you’re asking. Being upfront that you’re changing careers and looking for professional insight creates a personal connection and makes it more likely that they’ll be willing to meet with you, or at least point you in the right direction.
Would love to connect
I know what you’re thinking — aren’t vague email headers a bad thing? Sometimes — but other times being a little imprecise can actually work in your favor. This one gives enough information for the recipient to know broadly what it’s about, but they’ll need to actually open the email to find out more.
For full email templates, see our guide on how to ask for an informational interview via email.
Sending a thank you note
The thank you note hasn’t disappeared — it’s just gone digital. Sending a thank you note after meeting someone — whether it’s during an interview, at a networking event, or after meeting someone for advice — isn’t essential, but it’s still highly recommended. Not only does it encourage people to think more fondly of you and take a step toward building a lasting relationship, it’s also just plain good manners!
Thanks for your time earlier!
This is a multipurpose subject line that fits just about any context. Starting the email off with “thanks” lets the recipient know exactly what kind of email this is (the good kind!) and makes them more likely to want to open it.
[Your Name] — Thank you and follow up
Putting your name in the header reminds the recipient who you are and means they don’t have to scroll down to the bottom of the email for important context. Seeing your name every time they glance at their inbox also means they’ll be more likely to remember you in the future.
Thanks for earlier, [Name]
For an even more personal touch, why not include your recipient’s name in the subject line? This emphasizes that you’re taking the time to thank them individually and not just firing off a generic thank you because you’ve heard it’s the right thing to do.
Interview with [Company Name]
There’s nothing wrong with being explicit in your subject line. This header gives the context of the email upfront and leaves the door open for you to ask about their timeline and next steps (but don’t make that the main focus!).
For more detailed thank you notes tailored to your situation, read more about how to write a thank you email to a recruiter, the thank you email you need to send after an informational interview, and sending a thank you after a career fair.
Asking for an introduction
Asking a mutual connection for an introduction doesn’t have to be fraught. The trick is to ask directly, explain a little bit about why you want the introduction, and make things easier by including your resume or a pre-formatted message for them to pass along.
Could you make an introduction?
When asking for an introduction, don’t be coy. There’s nothing wrong with wanting someone to introduce you to a new contact, so just come right out and ask for it.
Could you intro me?
This one’s a little less formal, if you know the person you’re asking a little better or you’re using a platform like LinkedIn.
If you’re not comfortable asking for a favor right in your subject line, try formatting it as a suggestion instead. After all, an introduction could be mutually beneficial!
Looking for more tips on how to ask someone for an introduction? We’ve got you covered!
Sending an inquiry letter or asking for job openings
You haven’t applied for a job yet — but only because you don’t know if any are available! If you’re not having much success waiting around for jobs to be listed publicly, why not be proactive and reach out to companies you’re interested in?
Openings at [Company Name]
Short and sweet! This tells the recruiter exactly what you’re looking for, which lets them read and respond to your email more quickly.
Curious about openings at [Company]
This one’s a little less blunt, while still being clear about what your email is about. Both this and the previous subject line are perfectly fine — you can choose to be more or less direct according to what you’re comfortable with.
Quick question about current openings
This subject line is perfect if you have a specific inquiry other than, “are there any?”
[Job title] with X years’ experience
If you think you’re a good fit for the type of work the company is doing, why not use your email header to sell yourself a little? Putting information about your background and experience upfront makes it more likely that a recruiter will respond to you if they have a specific opening that fits.
Here are some more tips on how to ask for job openings, including job inquiry letter templates.
Reconnecting with an old contact
Lost touch with an old friend or colleague? It happens to the best of us! Fortunately, falling out of contact with someone doesn’t mean that relationship is gone forever.
Hope you’re doing well!
This is a catch-all subject line that lets someone know you’ve been thinking of them. Warm up with a few lines about how you know them and maybe an apology for not staying in touch before launching straight into your request.
Another good general subject line for someone you haven’t talked to in a while. If you’ve been keeping up with them on social media, you could use this opportunity to ask about an event in their lives (like a new job), or find out what you’ve missed if you aren’t up to date.
How are things going?
There’s no reason you need to wait for a specific event before reaching out to someone from your past. Rekindling old relationships, whether personal or professional, doesn’t always have to come with an ulterior motive. Why not just ask them how they’ve been and see if they’re open to continuing the conversation?
Catch up on [enter topic]
If there’s something in particular you want to discuss, why not just ask for a quick catch up? This applies in particular to old friends or people with a shared interest.
It’s been a while!
There’s no need to beat around the bush — you haven’t talked in ages, and you both know it. This is a more informal subject line that works great with friends or formerly close colleagues, rather than old bosses.
Following up after receiving no response
This situation can be a little delicate — on one hand, you don’t want your inquiry to be forgotten, but on the other hand, you don’t want to keep pestering someone who doesn’t have time to respond. It’s okay to send one follow up if you haven’t received a response to a previous inquiry, but don’t push for a response if one isn’t forthcoming.
Re: [Original email]
Not all emails need a new subject line. If you’re following up about an older inquiry, simply respond to the original email chain.
Touching base about [Position]
If you inquired about a specific position and haven’t heard anything in a while, you can send an additional follow up as long as you aren’t pushy about it. If you’ve already sent one or two follow ups and still haven’t heard anything, it might be time to write it off.
Following up on [topic]
If you want to connect with someone after a request for an informational interview, put the topic up front in the subject line so they know what your inquiry is about. This might be enough to jog their memory and get you a response they’ve been sleeping on!
For some email templates you can use, check out our guide on how to write a follow up email after not getting a response.