Writing an email cover letter is an essential part of the modern job application process.
A strong email cover letter can grab the attention of hiring managers, convince them to give your application the attention it deserves, and help you land more interviews.
But a bad one could ruin your chances of receiving a callback.
So how do you make sure your email cover letter is the best it can possibly be?
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What an email cover letter is
- What a good email cover letter looks like
- Five formatting and writing tips
- How to email your resume and cover letter
What is an Email Cover Letter?
There’s some confusion online about what exactly an email cover letter is. Some websites claim it’s your cover letter pasted into the email body, while others say it’s simply the PDF of your cover letter you attach to an email.
We’re here to set the record straight. An email cover letter is the email you send introducing yourself and containing your formal application materials, including your full-length cover letter.
Its purpose is to explain to the hiring manager how you found the job and why you’re applying, as well as to briefly introduce you and your qualifications.
Your email cover letter should be shorter and more casual in tone (depending on the context) than a standard cover letter. Ultimately though, they’re written with the same goal in mind: to highlight your qualifications and convince the hiring manager to take a deeper look at your application.
Email Cover Letter Sample
Here’s a winning email cover letter sample from a candidate applying to a marketing position:
Dear Mr. Richards,
I was excited to see your listing for the Marketing Specialist position at Harcot Products on Indeed.com last Friday.
As a dynamic marketing professional with over three years of experience at a Fortune 500 company, I’m confident that my expertise in data analysis, email marketing, and search engine optimization makes me an ideal candidate for this role.
I’m currently employed at Maxwell & Davis, where I’ve spent the past three years honing my online marketing skills. While working here, I helped execute a campaign that has increased monthly average sales from $5,000 to $12,000. I’ve also onboarded three marketing trainees, which has further solidified my marketing fundamentals.
I’m certain that the knowledge and expertise I’ve developed at Maxwell & Davis will be highly valuable to Harcot’s marketing team.
I have attached my resume and cover letter to this email. I look forward to discussing this opportunity with you further if there’s interest on your side.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
Email Cover Letter Format & Writing Tips
Here are our top tips for formatting and writing an effective email cover letter:
1. Get to the point
One critical thing to remember when writing an email cover letter is to make it informative but short.
This is your chance to introduce yourself, and convince the hiring manager to consider your application. Too much content, and you run the risk of drowning your main point in information that’s better suited to your regular cover letter.
Of course, it can be tempting to talk at length about your accomplishments, or why you’re interested in the job you’re applying for. But you should cut your email cover letter down to only the most relevant information.
For instance, it does NOT need to include more than one sentence about your personal background or passions.
To make sure you’re hitting all the right points without going overboard, follow these three tried-and-true rules:
- Include only the most relevant information concerning the position
- Choose one (two max) of your professional achievements to highlight
- Provide a brief, confident call-to-action with your contact information and your availability to meet or talk
2. Make it easy to read
The average recruiter spends between five and seven seconds looking at a job application. So if you want your resume to stand a chance, your cover letter format needs to be clear and easy to read — even on a smartphone.
Despite what your grade-school English teacher may have told you, each paragraph should be one or two sentences long. This will make it easy for the hiring manager to skim for the information they’re looking for.
For example, take a look at how our applicant’s email cover letter sample is formatted:
Each paragraph is short, to the point, and no longer than two sentences. Follow this format and recruiters will have no trouble getting the information they need from your email.
3. Write a strong subject line
Using a good, eye-catching email subject line is crucial for a successful job application.
Here’s why: you could have the most impressive resume and cover letter in the world, but if you have a poorly written subject line, most hiring managers won’t even open your email.
Your subject line is the very first thing they see. To guarantee that you win the hiring manager’s attention, make sure your subject line includes:
- Your name
- That you’re applying for a job
- The position you’re applying to
- The company’s name
Ultimately, your email subject line should be professional, brief, and relevant.
The only exception is when the job you’re applying for has a specified format they want your subject line to use. Be sure to double check the listing to see if this is the case.
4. Personalize your email to the reader
Studies have shown that people are much more attentive when they hear their name. Use this to your advantage by addressing your email cover letter directly to the hiring manager.
If you don’t know and can’t find the hiring manager’s name, don’t be afraid to do some digging.
Try searching on LinkedIn, check the company website, or maybe even call the office manager or receptionist and ask. If all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with starting your email with “Dear Hiring Manager.”
5. Finish with something memorable
The final paragraph of your email cover letter should set the next step of the hiring process in motion, and encourage the hiring manager to reach out to you.
Specifically, reiterate your interest in the position and then propose a time to meet for an interview or speak on the phone.
You want the closing of your email to ultimately come across as confident but not pushy or desperate. Make it clear that you’re available and ready to work, but don’t pressure the hiring manager to call you.
Here’s how our sample candidate finished their email cover letter:
Finally, end your email with a professional, courteous sign-off such as “sincerely,” “regards,” or “best regards.”
Emailing a Resume and Cover Letter
So you’ve finished writing the perfect email cover letter, and now you’re ready to attach your remaining application materials.
Before emailing your resume and cover letter though, there are three simple rules you should keep in mind:
- Follow the instructions — some jobs have specific instructions regarding how they would like your application materials attached. Double check the listing to make sure you’re following their guidelines. Spelling resume as the job posting does is also important. If it uses accents — résumé — do so too.
- Save your files in PDF or .doc format — PDF and .doc are the most easily accessible file formats, and considered standard for most jobs. Don’t risk losing an opportunity just because the hiring manager couldn’t open your resume.
- Use a professional file name — your file name should follow a format like “First Name-Last Name-Cover-Letter,” not “myresume1269”
Follow these three rules, and your application will be good to send out.
A brief and convincing email cover letter is crucial if you hope to make a strong first impression.
Specifically, it should:
- Confidently introduce you to the hiring manager
- Let them know why you’re applying
- Showcase your experience
- End with a request that sets you up for a formal interview