Applying for a job is no small matter. To catch a recruiter's eye, it's crucial to get their attention as quickly as possible. The email you send is integral to your application and, as such, you should treat it with as much care as your CV and cover letter. Here, we tell you all you need to know to avoid the pitfalls before you click ‘send’.
Dropping your CV off at a company’s headquarters is mostly a thing of the past. Today, whether you are responding to a job offer or applying spontaneously, you have to send an email. Perfecting this cover email is now essential if you want your application to stand out from the crowd.
A cover email is like the cover of a book. If it doesn’t entice recruiters to keep on reading, the hours you’ve spent refining your CV and cover letter will be wasted. It’s essential to demonstrate your professionalism in the first few lines to make a good impression.
Tone and outline
So, how should you write your cover email? It's important to adopt a formal, professional tone. While it may appear less formal than a cover letter, your email is still a central element of your application. ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ or ‘To Whom it May Concern’ (if you don't know the name of the person reading) at the top of the email is a simple but effective start.
Go for simplicity in the body of the message. Use short sentences to explain why you are contacting them (for example, in response to an offer or a spontaneous application). Be concise and don't forget that companies often have several job opportunities open at the same time. Make it as easy as possible for them by summarising all the key information so you don't get lost in the sea of applicants.
The key elements
Provide one or two key points to clearly demonstrate what makes you the right candidate for the role. This could be similar professional experience to the post you’re applying for, or soft skills that are useful for the job. Having a clear and concise overview of yourself as a candidate will encourage hiring managers to take a closer interest in your profile, and then read your CV and cover letter to discover more.
Also remember to consider the email subject line – without it, your email is likely to be deleted before even being read. Craft an effective subject line by writing the role you are applying for and then indicating if you are responding to a job offer or making a spontaneous application.
Don't forget to add attachments (CV and cover letter) before sending your email - to be on the safe side, add these before writing. Remember to convert documents into a universal format (PDF if possible) to avoid any compatibility issues. Always include your contact details in the body of the email. This may seem unnecessary as they are on your CV but it's important in case recruiters are unable to open your attachments.
Finally, don't forget to end your email with a simple signature, such as ‘Best Regards’ or ‘Sincerely’, followed by your full name. It would be a shame to ruin everything with an inappropriate conclusion.
Things to avoid
The main pitfall in writing a cover email is repeating the information on your CV in detail or paraphrasing your cover letter. Within the email, there’s no need to include your place of birth and address; your full name is enough.
Remember that it should be short and to the point. Don't go overboard, otherwise recruiters won't feel the need to read the rest of your application and may simply dismiss you as a candidate. Remember, this email is not an exercise in style, it’s simply an introduction - save your best for the attachments.
Finally, pay attention to your email address. While amusing email addresses are fine for everyday life, avoid using them when applying for jobs. If yours isn’t appropriate, create a new email address which is simple and professional.
Clarity and simplicity are key for an effective cover email. If you’ve written concisely and added attachments in a universal format, your job search is on the right track.
At LHH Recruitment Solutions, we support talents at every stage to enable career advancement. Looking for help with your job search? Get in touch with an LHH career expert today.