Email Cover Letter

How to Write a Great Email Cover Letter

By Rhonda, Job Search and Business Communications Teacher

These days, email cover letters are an acceptable way to submit a resume for a job application. Here are eight tips to ensure your success during your 2011 job search:

1. Keep your email cover letter brief

Your online cover letter shouldn’t fill more than one screen. Most people reading a screen have a short attention span.

2. Keep your subject line focused and specific

Avoid being vague with such tags as “looking for job”. Be specific. For example, state the posting number and the job title. Also, include something that reveals that you’re extremely qualified. You can do that in just a few words, but think carefully. Here’s one example: RE: Posting #222 Instructor. Experienced, creative communication instructor available

3. Get to the point in the first paragraph

Avoid wasting words. State your name and that your email is to apply for a posting or to follow up from a conversation, or even to apply for a relevant but unadvertised vacancy. For a cold application be sure to say where you got the reader’s email address.

4. Use Key Words specific to your profession

Write in the jargon of your profession or industry to demonstrate expertise. The body of your letter should also promote your candidacy with a bit of detail (include skills, experience and credentials) to entice the reader to call you in for an interview, the same as you would in a hard-copy cover letter.

5. Avoid formatting

Formatting is great for a printed document, but a formatted document in one email program could get mangled in another. So, use plain text for your email cover letter. Use short lines, short paragraphs, white space and asterisks instead of bullets for some visual impact.

6. Use business letter format

Include your complete contact information, as well as the recipient’s full name, position and address. You’ll also need the date, a formal salutation (use North American style here –Dear Mr. Smith, Dear John Smith, but not Dear Mr. John) and a complimentary closing (yours truly, yours sincerely).

7. Check with the company about sending email attachments

Some companies frown on attachments for security reasons. If that’s the case, you will also have to embed your resume further down in the email.

8. Edit your work

Check and double check your work for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Also, avoid using acronyms commonly used in the chat room or in an IM situation (e.g. “u” “r” “b4”) or a casual, sloppy, slangy style. Some people forget that a business email needs to be formal and professional, especially, an email cover letter.


Rhonda M, also known as Prof Rhonda teaches business communications and job search to college students and writes about different communications topics in her blog. For more information about email cover letters, visit: http://www.profrhonda.com

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