8 tips for better email cover letters
If you're emailing a resume, your cover letter will deliver the first impression. These eight tips will help you craft a better email cover letter.
Follow these tips for emailing a cover letter that will get you noticed.
As the saying goes, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. If you're doing a job search or resume submission via email, the first impression any employer will have is from your cover letter.
When you're asked to email your job application to a company, you can either copy and paste your cover letter into the body of your email, or you can attach it as a file, along with your resume. If you send your cover letter as an attachment, you can send it as either a PDF file or Word document. Here's what else you should you consider when crafting an email cover letter.
How should a cover letter look?
Some tips for writing a cover letter are standard, whether you're e-mailing or snail mailing: Be professional, with correct spelling and grammar, and—very important—do use them. (Here are some cover letter samples if you'd like to get a visual idea.) Other tips pertain only to the electronic medium, and when disregarded, could ruin your chances before your foot is in the door.
Don't waste your subject line
What you write in the subject line can determine whether your letter gets read, according to Lydia Ramsey, business etiquette expert and author of Manners That Sell. "Don't ever leave the subject line of your email blank, and don't waste it by just inserting the job number," Ramsey says. "The subject line should be clear and specific to the job you're looking for." An example: "Bilingual CPA seeks account manager position."
Use standard cover letter protocol
Write your letter as the body of the email and include a salutation (use the receiver's actual name if you know it) and a standard closing. ("Sincerely" or "Warm regards" work well.) Leave blank lines between paragraphs, and use appropriate signature and closing lines.
Include all the information in your signature line you would have on your business card, including snail mail address, phone number and email address. "Remember, your email address doesn't always automatically show up on the receiver's email program," Ramsey says.
Keep it short and dynamic
Managers and recruiters are busy. They want to get the gist of your pitch in 150 words or fewer. The first paragraph is crucial, according to Ramsey. "Hook the reader in the first paragraph by selling him or her your abilities," she says. "Use short paragraphs and short sentences to give a very brief bio on who you are and what you can do for them, and wrap it up in the second paragraph."
Keep it simple
If you write a cover letter in a word-processing program, strip away all formatting and save the file as plain text. The ideal line length is 40 characters. Some email packages automatically do word wrap for you, so your cover letter doesn't arrive in fragments.
Don't get cute. Save emoticons, abbreviations, and wild colors and fonts for your nonprofessional emails. The same goes for humor. Chances are, the reader won't think it's funny, and may even find it irritating.
Don't respond to an ad for a copywriter when you're really a graphic designer, says Diana Qasabian, talent director at Syndicatebleu. "It may be the tight job market, but we've been receiving more and more letters responding to a specific job from candidates who are not at all qualified for it," she says.
"We look for specifics in email cover letters, which means skills and abilities," she adds. "Embellishment and fluff are not necessary. It's not necessary to write, 'I'm a hard worker.' That goes without saying."
Keywords are key
Because many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATSes) to find and screen candidates, skill-oriented keywords will boost your chance at being discovered, a recruiter at a large technology company says.
"ATS tools track keywords that identify skill sets," she says. "So even if you're not right for the job you're seeking, strong keywords improve the chance that your cover letter and resume will be retrieved in a future search or be selected for a more appropriate job."
Play by their rules
Take the time to learn the company guidelines for submitting resumes, and follow them. Many companies list these guidelines on their Web sites. Also, don't include attachments unless they are requested. Some companies block all emails with attachments to prevent viruses.
Check it again
Thoroughly spell-check and proofread your email letter. And remember, your email software's spell-checker won't catch grammar mistakes. Send it to a friend first and ask him to check it for content and style. If all your friends are tapped out, or even if they aren't, test your email cover letter by emailing it to yourself, and put yourself in the mindset of an employer when you read it.
Get recruiters' attention
Once your cover letter is polished and ready to go, make sure you get maximum use from it. After all, it'll do you no good just sitting on your computer. You need to get your cover letter in front of the people who are doing the hiring. Could you use some help getting their attention? Join Monster today. As a member, you can upload up to five resumes and cover letters—each tailored to the different kinds of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you.
Email Cover Letter Format
Formatting Tips for Email Cover Letters
It's most common to send cover letters by email or as an attachment with your resume instead of snail mail. Much of the format of the cover letter remains precisely the same, regardless of how the letter is being delivered. In all cases, you need to include a salutation and a polite close, observe all the standard formalities, and proofread carefully. With an email, you'll also need to include a clear subject line as well.
How to Format an Email Cover Letter
The following email cover letter format shows how to put together a document containing the information necessary to get the hiring manager’s attention.
Use the email cover letter format as a guideline to create personalized email cover letters to send to employers.
Email Cover Letter Format
Subject Line: Job Title - Your Name
Be sure to list the job you are applying for in the subject line of your email message, so the employer is clear as to what job you are interested in. For example, your subject line might be "Marketing Coordinator - Bob Martins." This also helps to keep all your information handy for the hiring manager, and easily identified.
Dear Mr./Ms. Lastname or Dear Hiring Manager (only if you don't have a contact person). Follow the person's name with a comma or colon. Then, skip a line.
Body of Email Cover Letter:
The body of your cover letter lets the employer know what position you are applying for, why the employer should select you for an interview, and how you will follow-up.
The body consists of the first paragraph, middle paragraph, and conclusion. Here are some ideas for what is included in each of these sections.
The first paragraph of your letter should include information on why you are writing. Mention the position you are applying for and how you found the job posting.
If you were referred by a contact, mention the person in this part of your cover letter.
The next section of your cover letter should describe what you have to offer the employer. Don’t just copy the information on your resume, instead, make a connection between your abilities and the qualifications listed in the job posting. Mention specifically how your skills and experience match the job you are applying for.
Provide action examples where you can. Instead of saying, "I'm very organized" explain, "During my first six months at ABC Company, I instituted quick Monday morning check-in meetings and transformed the project management calendar. These two changes helped everyone to stay on top of deadlines — and cut our costs on last minute temp help due to scheduling errors."
If you have attached your resume, mention it in this paragraph. You can also mention how you plan to follow up. Then conclude your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position.
Include a polite sign-off and then skip a space and write your name.
Include your name, full address, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn Profile URL, if you have one, so it is easy for hiring managers, recruiters, and contacts to get in touch.
City, State, Zip
Email Cover Letter Example
Subject: Marketing Manager - Mary Cody
Dear Ms. Lastname,
I am writing in regards to the position of marketing manager at XYZ Enterprises advertised on Monster.com. Susan Smith recommended that I write directly to you, as we worked together at ABC Inc. for several years, and she thought that this position would be a good fit for me.
With ABC, I was a direct report to Susan, and I was able to increase my department’s sales by 15% over the three years we worked together. This exceeded the industry standard by 10% during a nearly stagnant period of time. Given XYZ’s position in the market, and my experience with increasing market share, I feel that I can help to bring even more success to your company.
I have attached my resume and list of references for your consideration.
I will follow up next week to provide any additional information you may be interested in. Thank you very much for taking the time to review my resume.
123 Green Street
Anytown, USA 11111
Completing Your Application
When you're sending an email cover letter, it's important to follow the employer's instructions on how to submit your application, and to make sure that your documents are written as well as any other business correspondence. Sending a professional looking application package is the first step to getting an interview.
More About Cover Letters: How to Write a Cover Letter | Email Cover Letters | Sample Cover Letters