Email message for job inquiry
By Mark Swartz
Monster Senior Contributing Writer
Have you ever sent an email like this one in response to a job posting?
Subject: re: Job Application
Look at my resume and cover letter. It’ll tell you all about me. I really want this job.
What’s wrong with this message as it’s currently written?
The substance of the above email is basically OK. You are, after all, attaching your resume. Possibly a cover letter too. This should give the reader a much better idea of who you are.
But what’s lacking here is a degree of formality and detail. The message is written in casual language. And it makes the reader guess about which job you’re applying for. The language and content need to be professionalized to a greater extent.
What? Even Emails Have To Be Formal?
During your job search – and afterward as well, once you’re re-employed – sending proper emails is important for your career. Communication skills are valued at all levels of an organization. You need to convey information in ways that won’t be misunderstood, and that represent a positive image of you (and your employer) to others.
In the world of work, quite often “you are what you write.” This is nowhere more true than when submitting your resume and/or cover letter for consideration. Every impression counts. Your emailed message may be the very first thing a potential employer sees from you.
When “Casual” Causes Concerns
A hastily written, informal message like the one in the example atop this page, may cause employers to see you as amateurish or lazy. “If you don’t even take time to present yourself in your best light within your job application,” they might mutter to themselves, “and you force us to do extra work by having to guess about which job you’re even applying for,” they say with clenched teeth, “then what can we realistically expect once we bring you aboard?”
Luckily it doesn’t take much to submit a better version of your message
You’re applying for a specific job. To you it may the one that’s front and center in your mind at this time. But the employer may be posting a number of different positions at once. They’ll probably receive a large number of application emails, not just yours.
So make is easy for them to sort the incoming emails by letting them know which job you’re after. In the Subject Line itself, concisely state the purpose of your email. Mention the job’s title or a reference number that you saw in the advertised posting. You could write something like “Job Application Enclosed: Claims Adjuster, reference A47kj2w1.”
This also applies to the top part of the message you’ll type into the body of this email. You can begin with a header that simply repeats itself, as in “re: Job Application: Claims Adjuster, reference A47kj2w1.”
Use “Business Formal” Language
Regardless of what you type in the email’s body underneath your header, don’t drop your guard and suddenly start using casual language.
At a minimum, you might try instead to turn the phrasing from our email example into the following:
I am very interested in applying for the Claims Adjuster position you advertised on Monster.ca recently. My qualifications and experience match your specifications almost exactly.
Please take a moment to review my attached Application Documents:
- Up-To-Date Resume
- Customized Cover Letter
It would be a sincere pleasure to hear back from you soon to discuss this exciting opportunity.
[your first and last names, plus the phone number(s) you want to be contacted at, go here]
Is This Sufficient?
Formal language, identifying the job you’re applying for, and stating which documents you’ve attached: is there anything you should do in the body of your emailed job application?
Some job seekers like to include a customized, more elaborate cover letter within the body of the email itself. This saves the reader from having to open your separate attachments into a different program.
Still, it may make sense to attach a fully formatted, fancy version of the cover letter along with the resume. This way if the employer wants printouts of “good copies” to pass around, they can do so quickly with minimal effort.
You could also try to find out the name and title of the person you’ll be mailing your application to. This is not always necessary, though in higher level jobs it can help you stand out from the crowd. Which of course is something you want to do, when possible, so long as standing out presents you as more qualified or enthusiastic.
8 tips for better email cover letters
If you're emailing a resume, your cover letter will deliver the first impression. These eight tips will help you craft a better email cover letter.
Follow these tips for emailing a cover letter that will get you noticed.
As the saying goes, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. If you're doing a job search or resume submission via email, the first impression any employer will have is from your cover letter.
When you're asked to email your job application to a company, you can either copy and paste your cover letter into the body of your email, or you can attach it as a file, along with your resume. If you send your cover letter as an attachment, you can send it as either a PDF file or Word document. Here's what else you should you consider when crafting an email cover letter.
How should a cover letter look?
Some tips for writing a cover letter are standard, whether you're e-mailing or snail mailing: Be professional, with correct spelling and grammar, and—very important—do use them. (Here are some cover letter samples if you'd like to get a visual idea.) Other tips pertain only to the electronic medium, and when disregarded, could ruin your chances before your foot is in the door.
Don't waste your subject line
What you write in the subject line can determine whether your letter gets read, according to Lydia Ramsey, business etiquette expert and author of Manners That Sell. "Don't ever leave the subject line of your email blank, and don't waste it by just inserting the job number," Ramsey says. "The subject line should be clear and specific to the job you're looking for." An example: "Bilingual CPA seeks account manager position."
Use standard cover letter protocol
Write your letter as the body of the email and include a salutation (use the receiver's actual name if you know it) and a standard closing. ("Sincerely" or "Warm regards" work well.) Leave blank lines between paragraphs, and use appropriate signature and closing lines.
Include all the information in your signature line you would have on your business card, including snail mail address, phone number and email address. "Remember, your email address doesn't always automatically show up on the receiver's email program," Ramsey says.
Keep it short and dynamic
Managers and recruiters are busy. They want to get the gist of your pitch in 150 words or fewer. The first paragraph is crucial, according to Ramsey. "Hook the reader in the first paragraph by selling him or her your abilities," she says. "Use short paragraphs and short sentences to give a very brief bio on who you are and what you can do for them, and wrap it up in the second paragraph."
Keep it simple
If you write a cover letter in a word-processing program, strip away all formatting and save the file as plain text. The ideal line length is 40 characters. Some email packages automatically do word wrap for you, so your cover letter doesn't arrive in fragments.
Don't get cute. Save emoticons, abbreviations, and wild colors and fonts for your nonprofessional emails. The same goes for humor. Chances are, the reader won't think it's funny, and may even find it irritating.
Don't respond to an ad for a copywriter when you're really a graphic designer, says Diana Qasabian, talent director at Syndicatebleu. "It may be the tight job market, but we've been receiving more and more letters responding to a specific job from candidates who are not at all qualified for it," she says.
"We look for specifics in email cover letters, which means skills and abilities," she adds. "Embellishment and fluff are not necessary. It's not necessary to write, 'I'm a hard worker.' That goes without saying."
Keywords are key
Because many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATSes) to find and screen candidates, skill-oriented keywords will boost your chance at being discovered, a recruiter at a large technology company says.
"ATS tools track keywords that identify skill sets," she says. "So even if you're not right for the job you're seeking, strong keywords improve the chance that your cover letter and resume will be retrieved in a future search or be selected for a more appropriate job."
Play by their rules
Take the time to learn the company guidelines for submitting resumes, and follow them. Many companies list these guidelines on their Web sites. Also, don't include attachments unless they are requested. Some companies block all emails with attachments to prevent viruses.
Check it again
Thoroughly spell-check and proofread your email letter. And remember, your email software's spell-checker won't catch grammar mistakes. Send it to a friend first and ask him to check it for content and style. If all your friends are tapped out, or even if they aren't, test your email cover letter by emailing it to yourself, and put yourself in the mindset of an employer when you read it.
Get recruiters' attention
Once your cover letter is polished and ready to go, make sure you get maximum use from it. After all, it'll do you no good just sitting on your computer. You need to get your cover letter in front of the people who are doing the hiring. Could you use some help getting their attention? Join Monster today. As a member, you can upload up to five resumes and cover letters—each tailored to the different kinds of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you.