We’ve written before about the importance of a cover letter when applying for a job. It’s a great way to set yourself apart from other candidates, highlight interesting experience that you might have, and show some of your communication skills that resumes do not convey. Email cover letters are just as important as their paper counterparts.

But a bad email cover letter is worse than none at all.

Here are some tips for writing an email cover letter that give you a better chance of making the next round, the phone screen:

  1. Use the hiring manager’s name in your salutation. If you don’t know it, use “Dear Hiring Manager.” Never “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” Those are too formulaic, awkward and old-fashioned.
  2. Subject Line = Summary. Who are you and what role are you writing about? Put that information where it can be easily identified.
  3. Be clear and concise. A short paragraph explaining specifically why you are a great candidate is enough. If your entire cover letter can fit on one screen without scrolling down, they will read the whole thing.
  4. Use keywords in your letter as well as in your resume. Hiring Managers often use sophisticated applicant tracking software to screen email submissions. Use the most important words from the job description in your letter to ensure your application is considered.
  5. Don’t be clever. I know, I know. You are clever and your cleverness makes you unique. However, the the email cover letter is not the place to let that personality shine.
  6. Make sure you include all of your contact information.  The means including your email address as well, as it may not appear on the message when they open it. Make it easy for hiring managers to contact you.
  7. Proofread. More than once. Send your email to a friend first and have them read it. Spellcheck is not sufficient.

HR execs are overworked and under stress. Make it as easy and quick as possible for them to decide that you are someone they want to talk to and your interview opportunities will definitely increase.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative