Just wanted to touch base on email cover letters. That would be opposed, to say, sending a cover letter via regular mail.
The one thing about emails – it seems to me – is that it has made us “lazy.” Twitter, texting, etc. has contributed to sloppy writing. And that’s coming from me – the king of sloppy writing.
An email cover letter is written exactly the same way as any other cover letter. And regardless of how you plan to deliver your resume into the hands of “somebody” important, you must always accompany it with a cover letter.
Your email cover letter must cover the same ground as a regular letter:
- Who are you and why are you writing me?
- Why should I care and what can you do for me?
- What do you want me to do?
The email must be engaging. It needs to capture the reader’s attention immediately and answer those questions. Which means that the letter must be focused and on point.
You write with the same business protocol and formalities. That you are sending it via email does not give you license to leave off punctuations, capitalizations, etc. Your written grammar must be business-centric and correct.
Do not leave off the “Dear Ms. Email” just because you have her address in the email. Likewise, you end it with “Sincerely yours, Me R. Desperate.” Yes, it’s from you. But, this is a business letter. Don’t get sloppy.
An email cover letter also has a couple of interesting challenges (or opportunities) that you’re not going to find in a regular letter.
You have a subject line. That subject line could be the different between the reader opening the email or not. Write a good subject line. Do not simply write in the job number or job description that you are after.
Kevin Donlin wrote that the key to having an effective LinkedIn page is to have a headline that pops. It’s the same with the subject line. Which is not to say that it should be “cute” or provocative. You just want to grab the reader’s attention.
By the way, if you are looking to use LinkedIn, then you should read Pamela Vaughan’s “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Mastering LinkedIn.” 34 great tips for you keep in mind.
The other challenge to email cover letter is in making it readable. Unlike regular letter with it’s margins that you can set; an email can pop up as wide as the computer screen. And the email can look really, really weird.
Generally, when I send an email, I will hit “enter” after I’ve written about 10 words. Keeping each sentence to no longer than 10 words tends to make email more readable for me. But you run the risk of sending a strangely formatted email to the recipient. One thing you should always do is send the email to yourself or someone to proofread first and check what the transmitted letter looks like first.
You could also use a free email format service, “Format-It,” to do it for you. Ensuring that your email cover letter is correctly (readability) formatted is a must. Your chances of sending a weird looking, regular letter is limited, whereas it abounds for an email cover letter.
Oh, I should mention that you must:
Sorry for the red caps and yelling – I got carried away.
Did I mentioned that you must proofread or preferably have someone else proofread it for you.
Yes, you should.
Really, you should.
Actual letter itself should be brief and on point. It should be 3, no more than 4, paragraphs.
- First paragraph states why you writing.
- Second paragraph runs down what you can do for the reader, or why the reader should care.
- Third (optional) paragraph provides brief examples/features to validate your claims in the second paragraph.
- Fourth paragraph asks the reader to take specific action or states your specific follow-up action.
I cover the basics in more depth here.
The key takeaways are:
- Don’t get sloppy. Keep it a formal business letter regardless who you plan to spend it.
- Use the subject line well.
- Keep it readable.
Good Luck, Hyo