Cover letters are often printed and shared among different member of a hiring committee. Therefore, when communicating with a potential employer via email, it is a good idea to attach cover letters as separate documents. This raises the question of what to do with the email itself. The best way to approach drafting an email with an attached cover letter is to think of it as a letter of transmittal.
Traditionally, a transmittal letter accompanies and provides a context for a larger document. For instance, when accompanied by a resume or CV, the cover letter itself becomes a letter of transmittal. In this case, your email is the transmittal letter and its goal is to place your attached cover letter in a specific context for the recipient. As a secondary goal, it serves as a record of having sent your cover letter.
Your email begins with the subject line. Job seekers often overlook this part of the email, but it contains the first words the recipient will associate with your application. Descriptive, positive language is best. Elaine Varelas of "The Boston Globe" suggests using "Referred by (employee name) for (job title)" if you have a referral. Format the body of the email in the same way you would a letter of transmittal written on paper. Formally address the recipient at the beginning and briefly introduce yourself. Immediately let him or her know your cover letter is attached.
If the recipient is on the hiring committee, include key details about your work experience and how it can be an asset to the company. Remember to stay focused on what you can do for your potential employer, not on what your potential employer can do for you. The first sentence of your email is the perfect way to let your potential employer know that you want to help achieve the company's goals. Build the body of your email around pointed, concise sentences that give the recipient reasons to consider your attached cover letter.
In cases where the recipient of your email is not on the hiring committee, include fewer details. Express thanks to the recipient in the final sentence of the email. Be sure to include an informative signature block. The signature block lets the recipient know the best ways to contact you at a glance. These blocks include your name, your address, your phone number, your email, and a professional website, if you have one.
Crafting an email with an attached cover letter is a tricky task for job seekers. It needs to include enough attention to detail to spark the recipient's attention without including unnecessary or distracting information. Be brief, informative, and engaging. This is the best way to get your potential employer's attention.
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