Tips for an Effective Email Cover Letter

Nancy Anderson
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Many employers now use electronic systems to screen applications and identify the best applicants. As a result, you must be prepared to send your cover letter in an email instead of mailing a paper copy to the hiring manager. An email cover letter should contain much of the same information as a paper cover letter, but there are some special rules you must follow when sending your application materials electronically.

When you email a hiring manager, don't include your cover letter as an attachment. Instead, write the content of your cover letter in the body of the email. Some hiring managers are concerned about downloading attachments and making their computers vulnerable to viruses, while others simply do not want to spend extra time clicking on attachments, saving them and waiting for them to open. If the job advertisement asks you to email your cover letter as an attachment, then send it in PDF format so it is compatible with several operating systems.

Put some thought into the subject line of your email cover letter. The subject line is the first thing the hiring manager sees, so you don't want to leave a bad impression by writing something unprofessional. If the advertisement requests a cover letter with a specific subject line, use the subject line exactly as it appears in the letter. Some employers ask applicants to do this to see who follows instructions and who doesn't. If the employer did not request a specific subject line, write something that helps your cover letter stand out from all the other emails in the hiring manager's inbox.

Keep your electronic cover letter short and to the point. Hiring managers sometimes receive hundreds of applications for just one opening, so they don't have time to read lengthy letters. Explain why you are the best candidate for the job, and end the letter with a request for an interview or a telephone call to discuss the position in further detail. Your email should be short enough that the hiring manager doesn't have to scroll down several times to finish reading it.

Be sure to format your cover letter in a professional manner. Include line breaks between each paragraph to make it easier for the hiring manager to read your email. Open the email with a professional greeting, and end it with a professional signature block that includes your telephone number and email address. After you finish writing your cover letter, email it to yourself to see how it appears on your screen. If there are any typos, grammar errors or formatting errors, fix them before you send the final draft to a hiring manager.

Now that many employers are accepting electronic cover letters, you don't have to worry about printing multiple letters, stuffing envelopes or buying stamps. Instead, you need to write a polished cover letter in the body of an email, use an appropriate subject line and follow the employer's instructions for submitting your other application materials. Follow these tips to improve your chances of landing a new job.


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