The Difference Between a Cover Letter and the Email You Send With Your Application
Hot jobs on the muse.
When it comes to making a job change, getting it right truly matters. You need to get the keywords right , the messaging right , the formatting right . You’ve got to find the right people to endear yourself to, and the right words for your cover letter and follow-up correspondence.
And, for the love of it all, you’ve got to nail the approach.
But, my oh my, there are so many considerations—so many things we all second guess ourselves on when applying for a job.
Should you make the cover letter the body of the email, or attach it separately? (Or both?) Do you address the person by first name, or go with Mr. / Ms. So-and-So? (And, does same rule apply for both?) How casual or formal do you need to be? Is there a right or wrong format for cover letters and emails? Does the cover letter need to be a page or less? How long should the intro email be?
Holy Hannah—it’s enough to make the coolest cucumbers among us start to feel like crazy people. And that’s even before you’ve made an introduction.
Deep breaths, everyone. Deep breaths. Let’s break this cover letter stuff down into manageable chunks. Here’s what you need to know:
Should the Cover Letter Be an Attachment or Just the Body of Email?
The short answer is: either. Not both, either.
If you ask 10 recruiters of hiring managers which they prefer, you’ll probably get five who say attachment and five who say email. But here’s the good news: Nearly all will report that it’s not going to make or break you either way. So, don’t let this topic unravel you.
I happen to be a proponent of “cover letter as body of the email,” and here’s why: It gives you the opportunity to make a strong, memorable first impression the millisecond that reviewer’s eyes open their inbox. You can draw someone in with an incredible opening line, and then showcase the ways in which you could contribute to the team.
If, instead, you decide to go with cover letter as attachment, you should be brief and point the reader to the attachments.
I’ve learned you are seeking a senior project manager with e-commerce experience and knowledge of Jira. That’s me. My attached resume and cover letter outline my qualifications for the role. Thank you very much for your consideration. I hope to hear from you soon!
Keep it brief if you go this route. Those on the receiving end won’t appreciate having to plow through a super long email and all your attachments.
Lastly, don’t even think about replicating the cover letter in both the email and the attachment. That’s just ridiculous (and, makes you look totally indecisive).
Now that we got that figured out, let’s answer the other questions that are probably eating at you:
Do I Use a First Name Salutation—or a More Formal One?
This is best answered with, “It depends”—for both the cover letter and the accompanying email. (I know, just doing my part to make things simple here.)
In all seriousness, it’s best to evaluate the tone and style of the organization you’re attempting to join, and then guess which salutation would be most would the appropriate and appreciated. You can do this pretty easily by reviewing the company’s website and social media presence.
Remember, you’re going to be hired for that next role if (and only if) you’re a “yes” to these three questions
- Do we think she can do this job?
- Do we like her?
- Do we think she’ll fit in around here?
That said, if you can introduce yourself in a way that implies right out of the gates that you’re a triple yes, you’re in business.
Is a Conversational Style Allowed?
In general, I think that job seekers get a bit too revved up about “proper” and end up losing sight of the fact that there’s an actual person at the receiving end of this (assuming you’re emailing your application directly).
Guess what? People like engaging, conversational reading. They notice when an applicant seems genuine, personable, and interesting. They appreciate when plowing through their pile of candidates doesn’t feel like total drudgery.
That being the case, unless you’re applying for a role within an extremely conservative or structured industry or organization, heck yes, a conversational style is allowed. Certainly, this is not your time to bust out a bunch of slang or (gasp) use language that could offend, but it’s a-ok to make your cover letter or intro email read like you’re a real person.
Just be sure and make it clear—in both cases—why you want to work for that company and what, specifically, you can walk through their doors and deliver.
Is the One Page Rule for Cover Letters Still True? What About in an Email?
Hard and fast “rules” make me crazy in general, so I’m not going to announce the exact length that your cover letter or your intro email need to be. I will simply suggest that you get in there, quickly endear yourself to the recipient, and then spell out, specifically, how and why you make perfect sense for the role you’re pursuing. And then wrap it up.
If you can pull it off with a one-page cover letter, absolutely. If you need a page and a half? So long as you’re peeling out any and all unnecessary blabber, knock yourself out. (And this article tells you how to cut it down to make it as effective as possible.)
For the email, again, get to the point and don’t be redundant if you’re also attaching a cover letter.
You can get these things right, for real. Nail the big stuff, sweat the details that truly matter, and get right to the business of making your grand entrance, well, one that’s grand.
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Emailing Cover Letters and Attachments
Monster member Brandi writes:
Hi. In my 'travels' on job search sites, I have never found an answer to my (and likely many others') nagging question -- when sending cover letters and resumes electronically, as attachments (when attachments are permitted), what information should be included in the body of the email? Just a note about the attachments, a paragraph explaining the position one is applying for? Or should the email body include a full cover letter?
This may make for a very helpful article on your site.
Thanks! Brandi __________________________
You're right; people do often write in and ask that question. When sending in your resume as an email attachment, you should put the text of your cover letter in the body of your email. The first impression that your application makes on a potential employer is when they open the email. You want them to encounter a professional text introducing yourself and your candidacy that gives them a reason to want to read your resume.
If in response to a job posting, a hiring manager opens their inbox to 100 emails, you have to wonder what their incentive would be to open attachments from blank emails or ones merely reading "please see attached." (I've seen this happen often.) A paragraph is better, but really, the email is your cover letter.
If you feel that your formatted Word cover letter is an important document to send, you could always attach it along with your resume, and mention in the email that you are doing so in case the employer wants to print it out for their records.
I hope this helps!
Make Your Job Application the Best It Can Be
Hiring managers are busy people who comb through loads of resumes and cover letters looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Your application needs to grab their attention at first glance. Not sure yours will make the cut? Rely on the professionals at Monster’s Resume Writing Service. An expert who is familiar with your industry will create a strong, clear, and compelling resume and cover letter that are unique to your skills and career goals. You’ve worked too hard to leave your job application to chance. Let the pros lend you a hand.
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How To Email a Resume and Cover Letter Attachment
Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.
Ashley Nicole DeLeon / The Balance
Depending on the job for which you're applying, you may need to email your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager. That's often the case with smaller employers. For other employers, you'll apply online or via a job board.
What's the easiest way to attach your resume and cover letter to an email message? When you're asked to send a resume or cover letter via email, follow these steps to ensure you have correctly attached your documents, written an email explaining what you are sending and why, added your signature to the email, and included a subject line that will get your message opened and read by the recipient.
- Most employers request a Microsoft Word document or a PDF file of your resume.
- It's easy to save your documents in the file format requested by an employer.
- When saving your documents, use your name as the file name.
- Include a subject line that states who you are and what job you are applying for in the email message.
Check the Employer's Instructions
When you apply for jobs via email , the employer may require you to send your resume and cover letter as an attachment to an email message. It's important to send your attachments correctly, to include all the information you need so your email message is opened and read, and to let the receiver know how they can contact you to schedule an interview.
What's most important is to follow the employer's instructions and send exactly what they have asked for in the format it's requested. If you don't, your message may end up in a spam or trash folder.
Save Your Cover Letter and Resume
When sending your cover letter and resume attachments, the first step is to save your resume as a PDF or a Word document . The job posting should specify how to send the attachment. This way, the receiver will get a copy of the resume in the original format.
If there aren't instructions on how to send your documents, submit your resume as either a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) or as a PDF file. These are the formats most commonly preferred by employers, and it's easy to save the documents and add them as attachments to your email message.
You can either save your cover letter in document format or write it directly in the email message.
Save as a Word Document
If you have word processing software other than Microsoft Word, save your resume as a Word (.doc or .docx) document. File > Save As , should be an option in your program.
Save a Google Doc as a Word Document
If you don't have Microsoft Word, you can save a Word (.docx) version of a Google Doc. Select File > Download and choose Word Document (.docx).
How to Save as a PDF
Whether the employer requests a PDF file or you opt to send a PDF, here's how to convert a document file.
To save a Word document as a PDF:
- Select File > Save As in Microsoft Word.
- Select PDF from the Format drop-down menu.
To save a Google Doc as a PDF:
- Select File > Download and choose PDF Document .
Choose a Unique File Name
When saving your document, use your name as the file name , so the employer knows whose resume and cover letter it is, i.e., janedoeresume.doc and janedoecoverletter.doc.
Don't use "resume" as a file name, because it will be hard to differentiate your resume from those of the other applicants.
Include a Subject in the Email Message
The subject line is one of the most important parts of the email messages you send to apply for jobs. If you don't include one, your message may not even get opened.
Your email message must include a subject line, and it should explain to the reader who you are and what job you are applying for. Be specific, so the recipient knows what he or she is receiving. Employers often hire for many positions at the same time, so include both your name and the job title.
Add a subject to the email message before you start writing it. That way, you won't forget to include it afterward.
Here's what to write:
Subject: Your Name - Job Title
If the employer requests additional information, like a job ID number, be sure to include that too.
Write an Email Message to Send With Your Resume
Once you have saved your resume and cover letter and they are ready to send, the next step is to write an email message to send with your documents.
First, open your email account. Then click on Message at the top left of the screen or click on File > New > Message .
You can either write your cover letter as part of the email message or send it as an attachment. Here's how:
Write Directly in the Email
You can either type your cover letter directly into the email message , copy and paste it from a word processing document, or if the company requests an attachment, send your cover letter and resume with the email message. So, your choices are to send a cover letter attachment or to use the email message as your cover letter.
If you are attaching a cover letter, your email message can be brief. Simply state that your resume and cover letter are attached. Offer to provide additional information and let the reader know how you can be contacted.
Be sure to follow the directions in the job posting for how to apply when sending your cover letter and resume or your application may not be considered.
Adding Your Signature To the Email
It is important to include an email signature with your contact information, so it's easy for hiring managers and recruiters to get in touch with you.
Include your full name, your email address, and your phone number in your email signature, so the hiring manager can see, at a glance, how to contact you. If you have a LinkedIn profile , include it in your signature. Do the same with any other social media accounts you use for career and business purposes.
Sample Email Signature
Jared Harshbarner firstname.lastname@example.org 617-123-3790 linkedin.com/in/jared.harshbarner
How To Add Your Signature
To add your signature to your email message, click on File > Insert > Signature , if you have a signature saved that you use for job searching. If you haven't created an email signature, type your contact information (name, email address, phone, LinkedIn) at the bottom of your message.
Attach Your Resume and Cover Letter to an Email Message
Once your email message is ready to send, you need to attach your resume and cover letter to your message:
Click on Insert > Attach File. Your email client will display a list of files in the default file folder of your computer. If your resume and cover letter are stored in a different folder, click on the appropriate folder.
Click to select the file you want to add to your email message , and then click on Insert to attach the document to your email message. Take the time to carefully proofread the message before you send it.
Before you click Send , send the message to yourself to be sure all the attachments come through, and your email message is perfect.
Send a copy of the message to yourself, as well as to the company, so you have a copy for your records. Add yourself as a Bcc (blind carbon copy) by clicking Bcc and adding your email address.
Then click Send , and your cover letter and your resume will be on their way to the employer.
Review a Sample Email Message
Here's a sample email message sent with resume and cover letter attachments to apply for a job.
Subject: Sarah Smith – Museum Docent
Dear Ms. Cooper,
I’m writing to apply for the summer docent program at the Museum of Local History.
I have extensive docent experience, having volunteered at both the Harbor Museum and ABC Art, and have led tours both as a student leader and a member of the town historical society. In addition, I’m a lifelong town resident and an enthusiastic amateur historian.
I’ve attached my cover letter and resume for your review. I hope you’ll contact me at your convenience to discuss the program and arrange an interview. Thank you for your time.
Sarah Smith email@example.com 555-555-1234 linkedin.com/in/sarahsmith
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it better to send a word document or a pdf to apply for a job.
A PDF file retains the format of your resume and letter, so the recipient will see them as you wrote them when they open the file(s) you send. A Word document is easily read by the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that employers use to manage job applications. What's most important is to follow the company's application guidelines.
How can I be sure my documents are formatted correctly?
Send a test message, and email your resume and cover letter to yourself before you send it to the employer. That way, you'll know your documents are formatted and attached correctly.
ZipJob. “ Resume PDF or Word: The Best File Format in 2022 ."
Google. " Create, View, or Download a File ."
Microsoft. " Save or Convert to PDF or XPS in Office Desktop Apps ."
Adobe. " How to Convert a Google Doc to a PDF ."
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Email Cover Letter Samples
Including an email cover letter is imperative, so we thought it would be helpful to our job-seeking readers to have sample letters to use as a starting point.
The examples below come from real-life job seeker emails, although we’ve altered the details and contact information. Whether you prefer a “salesy” approach or you’re more of a “direct and to the point” kind of person, choose the template that suits your style. Just be sure to include these key elements in your email cover letter.
Etiquette for Any Email Cover Letter
- Mention the title of the position you’re applying for in the subject line and body of your email.
- Explain where you found the job posting or how you heard about the position.
- Conclude with a subtle call to action to remind the hiring manager of the action you’d like them to take, such as, “I look forward to hearing from you.”
- List your full name and contact information in your email signature block (not just on your resume attachment).
- If applicable, quickly explain any questions that your resume may raise. For example, if you’re from out of town but planning to move close to the job location, or you’ve been at your current position for only a short time.
- Don’t start your cover letter with your name. Instead, introduce yourself in the letter with a relevant qualification and connect it to the position.
- Keep your cover letter concise. Just like your resume, keep your document to just one page to entice hiring managers instead of overwhelming them.
- Avoid any spelling or grammar errors in your document. The smallest typo can ruin your chances at the job.
- Don’t address the wrong company name or the wrong company contact’s name. This could be seen as awful cover letter etiquette and indicate you’re not attentive to details.
- Don’t ever include your salary requirements unless otherwise directed by the potential employer.
Signature on Email Cover Letter
Without a signature at the end of your email cover letter, you could be missing out on incredible potential job opportunities. This quick snippet of your contact information makes it easy for recruiters and hiring managers alike to contact you.
When it comes to deciding between a physical signature and a name sign-off, there are benefits to either option. With a name sign-off, you can use a digital signature service like Eversign and RightSignature to give your cover letter that personal touch.
If you’d prefer to include just a regular email signature, make sure to include your full name, email and phone number. You can also consider adding a LinkedIn button so the hiring manager can have more insight on your experience and skill set.
How to Format an Email Cover Letter
Wondering how to format your email cover letter? You’re not alone. Once you’ve written your incredible cover letter providing more information on your expertise and how it relates to the job you’re applying for, it’s vital to format it correctly before sending it to any recruiters. If it isn’t formatted correctly, you could be missing out on the job opportunity.
Regardless of the cover letter template you’ve chosen, make sure to include these key components when formatting your email cover letter:
- Write a subject line that includes the position you’re applying for
- Address the company contact’s name in the salutation
- Clearly state what you’re hoping to accomplish in the first few sentences
- Summarize your strengths, skills and experience by connecting them to the job opportunity
- Use a font that’s easy to read
- Avoid typos in your message by proofreading
- Include a signature with your contact information
- Always send a .pdf file rather than a word doc or other format
Email Cover Letter Examples for Legal Professionals
Example #1: if you prefer to keep it brief..
Subject Line: Interest in Litigation Associate Position
To Whom It May Concern:
I am interested in the Litigation Associate position advertised on LinkedIn. I have attached my resume and cover letter for your review.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
First Last Name
Example #2: If you’re relocating to the city where the job opportunity is located.
Subject Line: Expressing Interest and Relocating Near Litigation Secretary Position
Dear Hiring Manager,
I’m writing to express my interest in the Litigation Secretary position listed on Monster.com. My resume is attached for your review and consideration.
I am a fast learner, very dependable, organized, and computer savvy. I have extensive experience assisting firm attorneys and multiple paralegals, as well as supervising and managing an office. While I currently reside in Los Angeles, I will be moving to San Francisco at the end of the month.
I look forward to the opportunity to meet with you to learn more about your firm, its plans and goals, and how I might contribute to its continued success. I can be your ideal candidate if given this opportunity. Thank you.
Example #3: If a colleague referred you.
Subject Line: John Mentioned Your Firm is Seeking a Litigation Secretary
I was referred to you by a mutual acquaintance, John Smith, who said you have an opening for a litigation secretary.
I have many years of experience as a litigation secretary, most of them working with managing partners. I am a professional looking for a career, not just a job. I am organized, reliable and self-motivated. I like being part of a team, but can also work independently.
Included with this e-mail is a copy of my resume for your review and consideration. Once you have had an opportunity to review my resume, please contact me if you have any questions or to arrange an interview. I look forward to speaking with you in the near future.
Thank you for your time,
Example # 4: If you’ve been at your current position for less than one year.
Subject Line: Experienced Legal Secretary Seeking Long-term Opportunity with Stable Litigation Firm
Please allow this introduction. My name is Jane Smith, and I have 12 years of legal secretarial experience working with managing partners of small, mid- and large-sized law firms. My current typing speed is 105 wpm from written form and 120 wpm from live dictation with the utmost accuracy. I am interested in the Litigation Secretary position advertised on your firm’s website.
I am currently working for a small civil litigation firm. However, after only 11 months in this position, the financial stability of the firm has significantly changed. Therefore I am seeking long-term tenure with a stable civil litigation firm.
Attached please find my resume and list of references. If you are interested in the professional skills and positive attributes I can contribute to your firm, please contact me at [phone number] at your convenience to schedule an interview.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Example #5: If you want to dazzle the hiring manager with your qualifications.
Subject Line: Do you need a conscientious paralegal at your firm?
Dear Recruiting Administrator:
Do you need a hardworking, creative and conscientious paralegal to meet your firm’s needs? If so, I can help you. The following is a summary of my qualifications:
- More than ten years of progressively responsible legal experience;
- Bachelor’s Degree with Honors in Business Administration;
- Exceptional verbal, written and analytical skills;
- Advanced computer skills;
- Outgoing personality and “can-do” attitude.
I would like to meet with you to discuss how I might assist your firm in fulfilling its present needs.
My resume is enclosed for your review. If you need someone who is highly motivated, eager to learn, and willing to work hard to succeed, please contact me at [phone] or via email: [email].
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Now, start writing your cover letter!
They say the first impression is a lasting one — so make sure your digital introduction represents you well. Use your best judgment with each position you apply to; for an entry level position keep your cover letter more concise while going into further depth and providing more information with upper level positions.
These examples are meant to be a starting point only — add your own voice, style and experience to make your own standout (or at least solid) email cover letter.
Start building out cover letters that will help you stand out and land the job!
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Job Search Questions & Answers from the Experts at Resume Genius
Should I attach a cover letter or write it in the email?
You should attach a cover letter to your email unless otherwise specified by an employer. Most employers prefer an attachment because it makes your cover letter easier to save and organize, and is easier to read than scrolling through an email.
Of course, it’s important to pay careful attention to the employer’s job application instructions and to follow these precisely. An employer may request an email cover letter , or they may have a hiring portal where you can attach your cover letter file or copy-paste it into a text box. In such cases, follow the instructions rather than attaching your cover letter to an email.
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- How to Email a Cover Letter: Samples, Format & Subject Line
How to Email a Cover Letter: Samples, Format & Subject Line
As seen in:
An email cover letter is a short message explaining why you're submitting your resume and how your expertise makes you the right candidate. It adds a personal touch to your application. A cover letter email is shorter than a standard letter and is sent in the form of an email itself, not as an attachment.
Sounds like your good ol’ cover letter all over again. But that it is not.
If you’re applying for a job via email instead of using job boards, you’ve got a golden opportunity to get remembered by the hiring manager. But—
To make it happen, you need the best email cover letter out there.
And you are going to have one. Read on, and I’ll show you:
- An email cover letter sample that will help you land that interview.
- A tried-and-true email format for cover letters that showcases your most valuable strengths.
- How to write a cover letter in an email to get any job you want.
- Little known hacks for sending your cover letter email with a resume for greatest impact.
First, have a look at this universal, simple email cover letter sample. What do you think makes it so special?
Sample Email Cover Letter Template You Can Adjust and Use
Create your cover letter now
I’ll tell you one thing, Jacob can expect the callback anytime!
It’s a perfect email cover letter template you can tweak so that it fits your situation, and use to apply for any job.
As you can see above, you should format your email cover letter just as any other semi-formal email. Use a standard, elegant font and double spacing between paragraphs. At the bottom, include your contact information, just as you’d do in the footer of any professional email you send.
Writing a regular cover letter to attach to your resume email? Learn how to make the most of it from our complete cover letter writing guide: How to Write a Cover Letter for Any Job Application
For more tips on formatting your cover letter, see: Cover Letter Formatting Guide
Need more detailed information on how to apply for a job via email? Don’t know how to find your hiring manager’s email address? Here’s a guide that will show you tons of useful tips and tricks: Job Application Email: How, When, Who to Send Your Resume To
Cold calling the company to find out if there's a chance to work together? This guide will help: Cold Call/ Unsolicited Cover Letter Sample
And if you’re eying an internship and crafting an email cover letter for fresh graduates, see this article: Internship Cover Letter Sample & Writing Guide
One last thing before we go on:
Email cover letter—body or attachment?
Either. But not both.
Truth is, this choice won’t be decisive for your job hunt, so don’t obsess over it.
My suggestion is—if you’re applying by email, you’re risking that your message will reach the hiring manager in a hurry, so don’t make them open TWO attachments. Write your cover letter in your email body and enclose only your resume.
So you’ve seen a jaw-dropping job application email cover letter. Now, let’s break down what makes this email format for cover letters so great.
Strong Subject Line: the Only Guarantee Your Email Cover Letter Gets Opened
It won’t matter if your achievements are breathtakingly impressive or your skills fit all requirements of the job you’re trying to land…
If no one opens your job application email cover letter.
And guess what? That depends only on the subject line.
Make the most of it. In the subject line for an email cover letter with a resume, include:
- Who you are,
- That you’re applying for a job,
- The position,
- The company name,
- Job ID (if applicable).
Like the candidate from our sample, Jacob did:
Sample Email Cover Letter Subject Line
Senior Software Engineer  Seeks  Software Development Team Lead  Position with XYZ  (ID: 123436284)  .
Pro Tip: The only instance when all of the above is of no consequence? When the employer demands all applicants to use the same subject line, for example, “Application for Position XYZ - [Your Name].” If so—you have to play by their rules.
How long should your cover email subject be?
As long as it needs to be to include all of the above info and as short as possible.
Need an exact figure?
Number of email subject characters displayed varies across devices and operating systems :
- For desktop email applications it’s within the range of 46 (Yahoo Mail) to 70 (Gmail).
- Mobile email clients? From 30 characters (Android; portrait) to 64 characters (iPhone; landscape).
To stay on the safe side, begin your subject line with the name of your position. It’s sure to stay within the narrowest, 30-character range, and the hiring manager will immediately know what vacancy the message is about.
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check . Start building a professional resume template here for free .
When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.
Proper Greeting to Show Your Professionalism
The best way to start your email cover letter is with “Dear” + the hiring manager’s name.
Personalization will make the hiring manager feel like they’re reading something made specifically for them.
Don’t know the name of your hiring manager?
Do some research!
- Double check the job ad.
- Check LinkedIn. Job offers on LinkedIn often identify the one who did the posting.
- Check the company website. Try to find the head of the department on the company's staff page.
- Ask friends. You can use LinkedIn to check if you've got contacts at the company. A Facebook shout-out may work too.
- Call. If all else fails, call the receptionist and ask who the contact person is.
Pro Tip: Tried all of the above to no avail? Go with “Dear [Team Name] Hiring Manager,” or “Dear [Team Name] Hiring Team,” for instance: “Dear Customer Service Hiring Manager” or “Dear Project Management Hiring Team.” The two greetings you have to avoid are: “To Whom It May Concern,” and “Dear Sir or Madam.”
For more details on how to address your email cover letter, see this handy guide: How to Address a Cover Letter to the Right Person
First Sentence: Short and To-The-Point
Sending your cover letter in an email instead of using job boards is an excellent strategy for escaping the resume black hole .
But there’s one downside.
While hiring managers book specific time slots for reviewing resumes and cover letters they got through their online recruitment systems, your email, as I said before, might reach them in a rush. For instance, heading out to a meeting or dealing with an urgent problem.
In an email cover letter, don’t make the hiring manager read between the lines of some fancy storytelling.
Be as straightforward as possible.
Email Cover Letter Example: First Sentence
Attached you will find my resume with detailed work experience for the position of [XYZ].
And that’ll do.
For more tips on writing a short and snappy cover letter, see this guide: Short Cover Letter Examples for a Speedy Job Application
Main Paragraph: Relevance is Key
You’re not applying for a job. You’re applying for this job.
For the hiring manager, it doesn’t matter how great your career has been so far. What matters is how you can help the company with their upcoming tasks and challenges.
Show that in your email cover letter body:
- Read the job description carefully, identify what your responsibilities will be.
- Then, research the company online, try to find out what projects they’re running or plan to launch in the future.
- Outline your professional achievements that can translate into success in your prospective role.
- Highlight what you have to offer.
Remember Jacob, the candidate from our sample?
The company he’s applying to, XYZ Corp., is looking for a Software Development Team Lead to supervise the development of new mobile apps.
That’s what his tailored, brief email cover letter reads:
Sample Short Email Cover Letter Body
As a senior software engineer at ABC Inc., with a proven record of developing and optimizing the most strategic mobile apps and online software, increasing annual mean NPS to over 60.0 (32% rise) and cutting Customer Effort Scores in half [your achievements most relevant to the job you’re trying to land] , I am sure I can help XYZ achieve similar results [an offer to leverage your experience to the benefit of your future employer] with your upcoming project of developing mobile apps for personal finance and easy online trading [knowledge of your employer’s plans and your responsibilities] .
Pro Tip: I can’t stress this enough—an email cover letter has to be shorter than one you would include as an attachment. How short exactly? Your go-to word count should be 150, tops .
In need of some extra tips for your cover letter? Check out: 35+ Easy Cover Letter Tips You Can Use Today
Call to Action
So the hiring manager knows you’re a great candidate. Job done?
Not quite. Take an extra step. Reiterate your value in the call to action:
- Ask the hiring manager to reach out to you and meet in person.
- Once again, focus on what you have to offer .
Again, let’s have a look at the call to action from our sample:
Sample Email Cover Letter—Call to Action
Can we schedule a meeting [asking them to reach out to you] to discuss my insights and ideas on making XYZ’s software development quicker and more effective, while boosting all major KPI s [restating your offer] ?
Pro Tip: The two worst things you can do in your email cover letter closing are coming off as needy ( I’m sure I’d make a great employee, just give me a shot!) or generic ( Thank you for your time and consideration ).
For more ideas on strong and compelling ways to finish your cover letter, go here: How to End a Cover Letter the Right Way
Once you’ve written your email cover letter for a resume, you just need to put a formal greeting at the very end. Write “sincerely” and follow it with your full name.
If you’re not a fan of the well-worn, “sincerely,” feel free to use any of the following synonyms:
Sample email cover letter sign-offs:
- Best regards,
- Kind regards,
- With best regards.
Pro Tip: Under your sign-off, put the necessary contact information, such as your LinkedIn profile, email address, and telephone number. To save yourself the effort of adding them every time you send an email covering letter, you can include them automatically in the footer of your email. You can also include a digital copy of your handwritten signature. It will add a nice, professional touch.
So you’ve just written your perfect, short email cover letter. Now you’re basically guaranteed to land that interview, right?
Let me just quote what one recruiter wrote in her LinkedIn article:
Don’t think I need to explain further, do I?
Pro Tip : If you have forgotten to attach a resume to your email cover letter, don’t resend the whole message, just shoot a quick follow-up email with your resume attached. Would rather avoid this nightmare scenario? Attach all the necessary documents before you start writing a cover letter email.
And it is fine to say " Please find attached my resume " (though there are alternatives).
It makes all the more sense to write that because Gmail will see the word attached/attachment, check if you have in fact attached anything, and prompt you if you haven't!
One last thing to keep in mind:
Choose a professional resume file name :
“[Your first and last names]-resume-[the company name],” for example: John-Smith-resume-Intel NOT My-resume-124 .
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
See more cover letter templates and start writing.
To write a perfect cover letter email for a job application, follow these steps:
- Use a clear, strong subject line.
- Open with a proper greeting—address the hiring manager by their name.
- In the first sentence, explain why you’re writing and what position you’re targeting.
- Write a brief main paragraph that outlines your most relevant experience and achievements.
- Close with a call to action—ask to schedule a meeting and reiterate your offer.
- Sign-off with a “sincerely” synonym and your full name.
- Put your contact details in the footer.
- Don’t forget to attach a resume to your cover letter email!
And, for the final piece of advice:
Keep it short.
Got any additional questions about writing and sending a cover letter email? Want to share your experience with applying by a direct email message? Give me a shout in the comments. I can’t wait to hear out your thoughts. Let’s chat!
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Emailing Your Cover Letter and Resume
When applying to a specific job, always follow the directions from the employer about how to apply. Many will ask that your resume and cover letter be uploaded into their application management system. However, there may be times when you'll want to send your resume and cover letter via email. This could be when you're applying to a smaller organization, or sending info to a networking contact. When sending your cover letter and resume electronically, again, check to see if there are any instructions and if yes, carefully follow the instructions.
Sending as Email Attachments
- Make the resume and cover letter separate attachments. Save your resume and cover letter into Word or a PDF document. A PDF will retain your formatting, and is most common.
- Use your own name in the title you give your document, so the employer will be able to identify it when looking through documents for your resume or cover letter. Give them names the employer will associate with you once they are downloaded, for example: NancyAustinCoverLetter.pdf, not CoverLetter.pdf!
- Send your documents electronically to yourself and to a friend to make sure they're easy to open, the formatting is good, and they're virus-free.
- In the Subject line, use your own name, and put the name of the position for which you are applying. In your email message, briefly say why you are writing.
- Be sure to include your contact information as part of your email signature.
Subject Line: Nancy Austin - Grant Writer
Dear Mr. Rogers: I am applying for the position of Grant Writer at Friends of the Earth, which I saw posted on Handshake at Hampshire College. I'm extremely enthusiastic about this opportunity and believe I am well qualified.
I've worked in the Advancement Office of my alma mater as a student, and as a Grants Assistant at another nonprofit, the Humane Letters Association of Connecticut, since graduation. At both organizations I was involved in researching potential grants, tracking contacts and gifts, and at times writing for grants. I enjoy writing, and at the Humane Letters Association of Connecticut, started drafting emails to both volunteers and potential donors, and drafting more of the grant applications. I very much enjoy research and writing for specific grants and look forward to being focusing on grant writing.
My cover letter and resume are attached for your review. I'd welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss the position and how I might contribute at Friends of the Earth. Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely, Nancy Austin [email protected] (444) 444.4444
Sending Your Cover Letter in the Body of the Email
- This is another option for your cover letter. You can enter your cover letter into the body of the email, instead of attaching it. Set it up in Business (Block) Style, with everything justified to the left.
- Send the email to yourself and a friend, to check for problems before sending the letter to an employer.
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