Use the Cover Email to Improve Your Job Chances

You may be surprised to learn many job applicants think that “Hey” is an appropriate greeting for an email when applying for a job.

While you may expect this from a young person applying for their first job, I see it from people of all ages and for all types of jobs.

It’s not just the informality of that greeting that troubles me. It’s also spelling errors (independant vs. independent), grammatical errors (your vs. you’re), inconsistent font sizes, and misused capitalization.

When you make these errors, you immediately lower your chances of being called in for an interview.

Here are 12 tips to keep in mind when submitting your resume by email:

1. Use an informative subject line. Say what your email is about, such as: “Application from Jim Harwich for Accountant position.” Employers often search their inboxes for individual names or job titles, so an email with a subject line that says: “Responding to your job posting” may be missed. As a guide, keep your subject line to 50 characters or less.

2. Start with a respectful greeting. Unless you are on a first name basis with the person, start with “Dear Mr.  Smith (or Ms. Smith.) If no name is given and if you are unable to locate one, it is acceptable to use “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”.

3. Mention mutual contacts especially if that person suggested you apply.

4. Keep your email concise and to the point. It must be long enough to convey your message but not so long that you will annoy the reader.

5. Sell yourself. You don’t need to fully regurgitate your attached cover letter and resume, but include a few lines stating why the employer should want you and how you can add value to their organization.

6. Cut out the fluff. Use plain, clear language and cut straight to the point. Saying things like “I am the perfect candidate for the job” or “I can help you maximize cost-effective strategies” will more likely turn off the employer.

7. Adopt a semi-formal writing style. You might offend someone you do not know by writing too casually. Avoid use of contractions (use “it is” not “it’s”) and always spell out abbreviations, unless the abbreviation is better known than the full name. (e.g. IBM)

8. Use an easy-to-read typeface such as Helvetica, Arial, Calibri, Times Roman, or Cambria. A font size of between 10 and 12 point will make it easier on the reader’s eyes. The font and typeface used in your email should be the same as on your resume.

9. Don’t overuse bolding, underlining, or italicizing which can make your email look messy. You should also avoid all capital (upper case) letters as they make you seem angry.

10. Avoid flattery. Showering them with unnecessary praise will only come across as insincere.

11. Avoid emoticons. They have no place in a professional email, no matter how happy ??or sad ? you are.

12. Sign off with a professional closing, such as “Thank you,” “Sincerely,” or “Best.” You can also insert an email signature with your name, title and contact information. It looks very professional.

Before sending your email to the employer or recruiter:

Send a test email to yourself to see how it looks and that the formatting is okay.

Proofread your email message to make sure all spelling and grammar is correct.

Using the bcc fieldsend a copy of the email to yourself. It will now be in your Inbox and you can file it in a job application folder. That way you will have a record of the correspondence.