If you're out in the job market, it is likely that you will need to be filling in online application forms and/or sending out your CV. As part of this process one can assume that the person reading what you have written won't have much time to focus on what you have to say. This includes the process that starts from reading and opening up your email, clicking on the attached CV that you've sent to them and drawing some quick conclusions from it. Overall you are likely to have around 30 seconds of time dedicated on your application. This is the sad truth which means that your email cover letter is an important part of the process and that it needs to be well thought out, short and punchy!
We've put together a few tips to get you started:
- At the top of your email, either in the subject box or before you introduce yourself, you should state which job that you’re applying for
- You should assume that you have two short paragraphs before you sign off your email. In those two paragraphs, you should aim to answer the questions - who you are and why you’re right for this role?
- In the first of these paragraphs, you will need to explain succinctly who you are in terms of what it is that you have done with your life so far. Describe this in a way that positions you well in the reader’s mind for the role that they seek to fill. This paragraph is also the place for you to say how delighted you would be to work for this organisation and to be considered as a candidate
- The next paragraph should identify the key contributions that you can make in terms of your skills, qualifications and experience, which make you a great candidate for this job. Keep it tight and don’t repeat, where possible, what is coming in the attached CV. At the same time, remember that the reader may not look at the CV at all if they do not think the cover email is interesting enough.
- Be professional and be authentic. Think about why you are right for the role and why you have chosen to apply for this particular job. You want to get across that you have specifically identified this role as being a good fit for you and the organisation, and by putting this in your own words and being authentic about it, your uniqueness will shine through.
- Do you know who you are contacting? Do you know who will be reading this email and what their position/role is? If you do your research, you can find out what it is that this person is looking for, where they sit within the organisation and what is important to them. The more you can target your note towards the receiver of it the better
- Include an email signature so that you can easily be contacted. Your CV should also include your contact details however making sure that the email also makes it obvious how to get in touch with you is helpful
- Make sure you follow instructions and are sending everything as it is required and requested in your email. Check if your CV should be sent as an attachment and if so – if it should be in a particular format e.g. word (check what version) or pdf.
- Simple, clear and concise is better. Don’t go crazy with fonts and colours. Keep it simple, easy to read and easy on the eyes. Also make sure that the font size is good for your reader – so font size 10-12 is optimal and something traditional like Arial, Times Roman or Helvetica are safe options.
- Stay fairly formal. It’s an email but don’t forget that it is an application for an important job that you want to be taken serious as a candidate for. Start your email with a ‘Dear Mr or Ms X’. Avoid any abbreviations