Email message for job inquiry
By Mark Swartz
Monster Senior Contributing Writer
Have you ever sent an email like this one in response to a job posting?
Subject: re: Job Application
Look at my resume and cover letter. It’ll tell you all about me. I really want this job.
What’s wrong with this message as it’s currently written?
The substance of the above email is basically OK. You are, after all, attaching your resume. Possibly a cover letter too. This should give the reader a much better idea of who you are.
But what’s lacking here is a degree of formality and detail. The message is written in casual language. And it makes the reader guess about which job you’re applying for. The language and content need to be professionalized to a greater extent.
What? Even Emails Have To Be Formal?
During your job search – and afterward as well, once you’re re-employed – sending proper emails is important for your career. Communication skills are valued at all levels of an organization. You need to convey information in ways that won’t be misunderstood, and that represent a positive image of you (and your employer) to others.
In the world of work, quite often “you are what you write.” This is nowhere more true than when submitting your resume and/or cover letter for consideration. Every impression counts. Your emailed message may be the very first thing a potential employer sees from you.
When “Casual” Causes Concerns
A hastily written, informal message like the one in the example atop this page, may cause employers to see you as amateurish or lazy. “If you don’t even take time to present yourself in your best light within your job application,” they might mutter to themselves, “and you force us to do extra work by having to guess about which job you’re even applying for,” they say with clenched teeth, “then what can we realistically expect once we bring you aboard?”
Luckily it doesn’t take much to submit a better version of your message
You’re applying for a specific job. To you it may the one that’s front and center in your mind at this time. But the employer may be posting a number of different positions at once. They’ll probably receive a large number of application emails, not just yours.
So make is easy for them to sort the incoming emails by letting them know which job you’re after. In the Subject Line itself, concisely state the purpose of your email. Mention the job’s title or a reference number that you saw in the advertised posting. You could write something like “Job Application Enclosed: Claims Adjuster, reference A47kj2w1.”
This also applies to the top part of the message you’ll type into the body of this email. You can begin with a header that simply repeats itself, as in “re: Job Application: Claims Adjuster, reference A47kj2w1.”
Use “Business Formal” Language
Regardless of what you type in the email’s body underneath your header, don’t drop your guard and suddenly start using casual language.
At a minimum, you might try instead to turn the phrasing from our email example into the following:
I am very interested in applying for the Claims Adjuster position you advertised on Monster.ca recently. My qualifications and experience match your specifications almost exactly.
Please take a moment to review my attached Application Documents:
- Up-To-Date Resume
- Customized Cover Letter
It would be a sincere pleasure to hear back from you soon to discuss this exciting opportunity.
[your first and last names, plus the phone number(s) you want to be contacted at, go here]
Is This Sufficient?
Formal language, identifying the job you’re applying for, and stating which documents you’ve attached: is there anything you should do in the body of your emailed job application?
Some job seekers like to include a customized, more elaborate cover letter within the body of the email itself. This saves the reader from having to open your separate attachments into a different program.
Still, it may make sense to attach a fully formatted, fancy version of the cover letter along with the resume. This way if the employer wants printouts of “good copies” to pass around, they can do so quickly with minimal effort.
You could also try to find out the name and title of the person you’ll be mailing your application to. This is not always necessary, though in higher level jobs it can help you stand out from the crowd. Which of course is something you want to do, when possible, so long as standing out presents you as more qualified or enthusiastic.
Emailing Your Cover Letter and Resume
When sending your cover letter and resume electronically, try to find out if the employer would prefer them as attachments or in the body of your email. If you can't determine a preference, send them both ways in a single message.
Although not usually required, you may want to follow up the email with hard copies of your cover letter and resume, (unless specifically asked not to). When submitting copies by mail, it's preferable not to fold them. It's also a good idea to bring copies of your cover letter and resume to any interview.
Sending as Email Attachments
- Create your resume and cover letter in a common word processing program such as Microsoft Word, or in RTF (RichText Format), or as a PDF. (Increasingly, employers are specifying format.)
- Make the resume and cover letter separate attachments. Give them names the employer will associate with you once they are downloaded, for example: AustinJaneCvrLtr.doc, not CoverLetter.doc and AustinJaneResume.doc, not Resume.doc
- Be absolutely certain that your documents are free of viruses. Send them electronically to yourself and to a friend to make sure they're easy to open, the formatting stays correct, and they're virus-free.
- In the Subject line, put the name of the position for which you are applying. In your email message, briefly say why you are writing. Ask the employer to contact you about any trouble opening attachments. For example:
Dear Mr. Rogers:
I am applying for the position of Grant Writer at Friends of the Earth, which I saw posted recently on Idealist.org. I'm extremely enthusiastic about this opportunity and believe I am well qualified. My cover letter and resume appear below, and are also attached; please let me know if you have any trouble opening the attachments. Thank you for your consideration.
Sending in the Body of the Email
- Paste your cover letter a couple of spaces below your brief introduction. Set it up in Business (Block) Style, with everything justified to the left.
- A couple of spaces below the cover letter, paste in your resume.
- Your resume needs to be reformatted to send it in the body of an email message. Justify everything to the left; do not try to center text. Do not use bold, italics, underlining, bullets, fancy fonts, colored text, multiple columns. To highlight text, use such means as spacing, all capital letters (for headings), asterisks (*), plus signs (+), dashes.
- Send the email to yourself and to a friend, to check for problems before sending to an employer.