When you submit your resume by email, your email message serves as the cover letter. Make the most of this online format for your job search.
Most people are used to dashing off informal emails that are quickly written and sent without much thought. Unfortunately, they treat their email cover letters the same way. That translates to an unprofessional, too casual, even sloppy opening to a resume.
Instead, treat your email cover letter with the same thought as you would for a cover letter for your resume in snail mail format. That means you should use formal well-written copy that doesn't sound as though you just dashed it off at the last minute.
For example, it's tempting to write something to the effect of, I saw your job posting online and would like to apply for the job. Here is my resume. Thanks. The employer will probably get dozens of those. Stand out from the crowd by putting some thought into what you want to say to your prospective employer, because truly, your email is going to provide your prospective employer's first impression of you.
Here are some things you should think about as you prepare and send email cover letters.
#1 Make your subject line count
Your subject line may determine whether or not your email get read at all. If you leave the subject line blank, chances are, the prospective employer is simply going to disregard your email. It's certainly not going to entice the reader to open it, which completely negates the reason you sent it in the first place.
Your subject line should be short and to the point, should clarify who you are and what you're looking for, and should provide a very brief description of what makes you important to this company in regard to what they're looking for in prospective employees. The job description for that particular job should provide some pretty important clues. Select important keywords from the job description to weave into your subject line.
Your subject line should also be short, about 60 characters long. This means that most people will be able to read it no matter what device they're using, including hand-held devices, without strange line breaks that are going to make it difficult to read.
#2 Use relevant keywords
Resumes that are sent by email are usually stored in a database until someone sits down to review all of the submissions. To make sure your resume is going to pop up during a search, customize your email cover letters and resumes so that these relevant keywords are included, specific to the position you want.
So for example, peruse the job description to find out what the most critical keywords are and then put them in your resume and cover letter. If the job description is not available, research similar positions and find out what keywords are used there. This will give you a good place to start.
#3 Make your cover letter great
Your cover letter should follow the rules of a snail mail cover letter. The email cover letter should include a salutation directly to the person you are writing to, use a standard closing (Sincerely), and an email signature that includes your name, postal address, email address and phone number.
#4 Follow the KISS rule: Keep It Short and Sweet
When you write your email cover letter, keep it short and sweet. 150 to 200 words is a good length, because it's not going to require the reader to scroll down to keep reading your email. Make every sentence count. The first paragraph especially should really sell you as a candidate and tell your prospective employer just why you should be considered for the job. Short sentences and active verbs are best. Highlight two to three selling points; bullet points can be especially effective. Don't restate anything already on your resume, and close the cover letter by inviting the reader to contact you to request an interview or meeting.
Formatting should be simple, with plain text. Plain text works on a variety of systems and stays clean. Leave out the graphics, colors, emoticons, or other things that have become commonplace in casual emails.
#5 Note any company guidelines and follow them
A lot of companies have specific guidelines they want you to follow in the way you send a resume and cover letter, specifically in regard to attachments. If you are instructed to submit your resume and cover letter in a certain way, do it that way. If a resume attachment is allowed, paste the content into your email after the body of the cover letter as well, just to be safe.
Finally, make sure you check everything carefully. Spellcheckers can be great when it comes to bad spelling, but you'll still need to check for grammar mistakes and sentence structure, and you'll need to make sure you address your recipient by the right name. So double check everything you do in your cover letter, and then email it to yourself or a friend to look over for a final review.
By following these guidelines, your email cover letters can do a lot to help you during your job search.
About the Author:
John Dyer wants to help you find a job you love. If you need more help with your email cover letters or other aspects of your job search, his web site: One-Stop Career Center offers job hunting tips and career advice to support you.