Should the Cover Letter Be Part of the Email Text?

Nancy Anderson
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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.

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  • Paul W.
    Paul W.

    Thank you for keeping me out of the cave on charges in expectations.

  • veronica w.
    veronica w.

    Thank you. I needed to read this. I have not had to look for a job in 23 yrs and many things changed. Now I know how to address this matter. Thanks again

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Gamin I think it's great that companies in your area expect a resume and cover letter through the mail. That is what I grew up with. The digital world was hard to adjust to but, unfortunately, it is here to stay. The days when you could apply in person are pretty much gone. It is very difficult to get your foot in the door when you don't have experience. Maybe you were on a committee or involved in student activities while in college. You might be able to use some of that to go towards your character when you are writing your cover letter. How well you worked on teams or how you were instrumental in making changes, etc. In the meantime, maybe you could try finding some temp work to start getting your feet wet in the work world. Best of luck to you.

  • Gamin D.
    Gamin D.

    Not necessarily true. MANY companies in my area give SNAIL-MAIL addresses and expect hard-copy resumes and cover letters, so I keep mine around, plus it's impossible to apply in person with a "digital" resume. Actually, this article doesn't address my cover letter problem, which is what the heck I can say to persuade a potential employer when I don't have any past job experience to talk about. Experience has shown me they don't give one whit about anything you learned/accomplished at home, which is the only place other than school that I've had the chance to do so.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Bruce most job apps are done online anymore. Just make sure that you read the posting and follow their directions. Some companies don't even want a cover letter. Others will tell you to include it as an attachment. If they don't, then you could certainly do a "cover letter" as the text in an email and then attach your resume.

  • Bruce Taylor
    Bruce Taylor

    Good to know, beng older I am not up to the current way of submitting resumes by email. Still a bit old fashion I am guessing.

  • Judy barry b.
    Judy barry b.

    Very timely advice. Thank you.

  • Deborah Wilson
    Deborah Wilson

    If its asks for. You need to gie recruiters what they want. Some times its hard to know. Hw much imformation. Is too much.

  • Leonard "Len"  Crescenzo
    Leonard "Len" Crescenzo

    Great advice on target, thanks

  • Rafael  Boscan Borrego
    Rafael Boscan Borrego

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