A contemporary cover letter is not the same concept it was just 10 years ago. Traditional methods of delivering a hard-copy letter to a human resources office no longer apply to a fast-paced, efficient and well-organized job search. Instead, an email now serves as the correspondence of choice for many companies.
Your letter must be geared for human eyes and computer programs. That means you must ditch paper copies of letters and resumes altogether. Digital formats are the way to go since many firms utilize keyword search software to eliminate job applicants who do not fit what the company wants. Before search programs, many people sent formal correspondence as attachments to emails. Today, the email text of an introductory letter is the appropriate way to communicate your story to a potential boss.
Concepts that worked for paper versions of cover letters still remain relevant, however. Make sure your cover letter provides your personal story, and explain why you are a perfect fit for the position. Make the letter specific to the firm, as generic letters will not make you stand out.
The email text should be brief, short, yet powerful. Break your sentences down into short paragraphs to provide some white space on the page; otherwise, a hiring manager may miss some key details. Make an impression with as little text as possible, since recruiters often review dozens, if not hundreds, of emails from job applicants on a frequent basis. Use relevant keywords found in the job description, and maintain a professional and polite tone. While it is great to show passion for your work, do so in a restrained manner.
Answer questions your potential boss may ask during an interview within your email text. For example, communicate your experience as it relates to the job you're applying for, and outline your tangible accomplishments, such as sales figures or profit margins. Avoid adding fluff or filler information, as this may cause hiring managers to lose interest.
One of the main reasons to have your letter as part of the email itself is the time factor. It takes less time to scan an email than it does to open an attached file on a word processing program, especially for someone who is very busy and has hundreds of emails to skim. Copy and paste the final copy of your cover letter from a word processing document into your email, format it correctly, attach your resume and click send.
While sending an introductory letter via email may seem informal, doing so increases your chance of getting noticed by employers. The correspondence does not need to be fancy, but it must be just as professional, informative and insightful as a traditional hard-copy cover letter.
Photo courtesy of Nujalee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net