How to write an email cover letter

When you’re looking to impress a potential employer and land a new job, how you write an email cover letter matters. Regardless of the way you send it, the words within your cover letter create the first impression an employer has of you.

When writing an email cover letter, the standards of a traditional cover letter still apply.

However, formatting details, your tone in the email message which presents your cover letter, and the email subject line and signature can all make a difference when applying for a competitive position. Nailing these small details can help you stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of being hired.

Use a professional email address

If you’re still using the same email address you created in high school, now is probably the time to change it. Hiring managers will want to see a professional email address format such as firstname.lastname@email.com or firstinitial_lastname@email.com.

Any combination that includes your name in some form without extraneous words or too many numbers should suffice. This type of email address sends the message that you take your work and responsibilities seriously.

Include a proper subject line

Do mention the position you are applying for in the subject line, as well as your name. This helps hiring managers to sort through applicants quickly, and can start you off on the right foot.

They will be able to tell at a glance who the application is for.

Example:

Accounts Payable Manager Position Application – [Your name]

Do your research before using attachments

Does the position you’re applying for have specific requirements for how to send your resume and cover letter in the job posting? Does the company accept emails with attachments?

Before you can successfully send an email cover letter, you need to know what format is acceptable to the company. Some companies will only accept resumes and cover letters that are completely copied and pasted into the body of an email, while some specify what type of attachments are acceptable to email as part of your application.

If you cannot find this information, including your cover letter within the body of the email to introduce yourself and attach your resume as a PDF file is typically an acceptable route to take. Most computers can easily open PDF files over attachments that require specific programs like Microsoft Word.

Remember that not every person’s email account accepts attachments. So, if an email gets kicked back to you as undeliverable, try sending it again with everything copied and pasted into the body without using attachments.

Your email message

If your cover letter will be sent via email as an attachment, be sure to include a brief message in the body of the email stating who you are, why you have sent the email, and what attachments are included. Use a plain, black font that is easy to read.

Start with a simple greeting, followed by a statement about what position you are applying for and how you found the job posting. End your email by thanking the recipient for their time and include a professional closing.

Example:

Hello [Name of hiring manager],

I am interested in the Accounts Payable Manager position at [company name] advertised on The Ladders. Please see my attached cover letter and resume for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

If you are copying and pasting your cover letter directly into the email, there is no need to introduce it. Simply copy and paste your cover letter directly into your email message without preface. The cover letter will stand alone as your introduction.

Check your signature

If you typically do not include a signature with your current title and contact information in your emails, you will want to either add one before sending your email cover letter and resume or be sure to include those details within the body of your email.

List your phone number, email, and physical address so that it is clear and easy for the potential employer to see. This will make it easier for them to contact you after they review what you sent.

Contents of your cover letter

Regardless of whether your cover letter is sent as an attachment or within the body of an email, the recipe for crafting a cover letter remains the same. This brief overview of how to structure a cover letter can be utilized for various types of positions, but your writing should always be tailored to best suit the job you’re applying for and your specific skill set.

Greeting: Use a proper salutation and make it as specific as you can. If you know or can find the hiring manager’s name, use it. If not, the following examples will suffice.

Examples: To The Hiring Team at [Company}, Dear Hiring Manager
Introduction: Let them know who you are and a bit about your background. You can also include here how you found the job posting.

Body: Discuss how you are a fit for the role you are applying for. Re-read the job posting and show your understanding of what the role requires by explaining how your qualifications stack up against what the job requires.

Although you don’t want your cover letter to be more than one page long, you do want to include plenty of detail. Be as specific as possible about why you are the best person for the job to help the hiring manager understand that you have done your research for this company and are not just copying and pasting the same cover letter to different employers.

Conclusion: Thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration. Include a sentence with the best phone number to reach you and express your desire to hear back from them and discuss the opportunity further.

Signature: Use a sign off that conveys respect such as “sincerely” or “warmest regards” along with your first and last name.

You can also find a more detailed explanation of what to include in a cover letter and specific examples of cover letter text here.