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Marketing yourself: Using email cover letters to apply for a position

- Feb 25, 2013

Email is everywhere. In fact, most job openings these days ask for an emailed resume, rather than a paper one.  It would be wise to learn to use email effectively and professionally.

These instructions are specifically for an email cover letter, but most of it will apply to any email.

Firstly, make sure you have the right email address. If it’s wrong, the least you will do is send it nowhere. The worst you can do is look like you can’t follow simple instructions. Double and triple check the email address.

Secondly, address your email properly. If the email is a name, like jsmith@acme.com, find a company directory and find out who J. Smith is. Not so you address them by their first name, but so that you can use the proper gender, ie Ms. or Mr.. Steer clear of Mrs. all together; it is too difficult to be sure unless you them personally.

Thirdly, write your email in a word processor, not in your email screen. You don’t want to hit send before the email is ready. That will not look smart or well-planned.

Now you are ready to write the letter. Keep it short and professional. If you are using your email as a cover letter, then all the traditional rules for cover letters apply. You’re simply going to cut and paste a well-written cover letter into your email.

If you have a cover letter, you can also attach it as a separate document. Then your email is a short introduction. “Hi my name is… I am applying for… Attached please find my resume and cover letter.”

Every email is going to be different so you are going to have to think about it. Just make sure you have addresses anything they hace asked for in their advertisement.

Some things not to do:

  • Don’t use smileys or emoticons.
  • Don’t use Twitter abbreviations, like l8r.
  • Don’t have an email address like hotluvinstud@unemployedfool.com
  • Don’t speak to them like you are friends.

Short, professional and to the point.

“Dear Ms. Smith,

Thank you for taking the time to look at my application for the position of Neo in the Matrix.

Attached please find my resume and cover letter, which will demonstrate that I am the best candidate for this position.

You will see from my resume that I have been a science fiction messiah in four other movies, including Johnny Mnemonic.  You can also see that I have an extensive experience playing police officers and surfer-dudes.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to working with you very soon.

Respectfully yours,

Keanu Reeves



The closing should be as formal as the rest of the letter. “Sincerely yours,” “Respectfully yours”

Sign with your full name. If your name is Robert, use Robert, not Bob.

Include your phone number and email address. I hear you, “But they have it above!” Yes, but some corporate email systems make finding the original address a pain and you don’t want them to have to look for it.

Remember, email is what letter writing was just 10 years. It should be just as formal and respectful if for no other reason than it is even more permanent.

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