The job posting says "Send resume and cover letter." So, should you send your cover letter as an attachment or copy and paste it into the body of your email?
I asked two resume writers on my team, Beth Brown and Sharlene Silva, what they recommend. Here's the "best of the best" of their tips.
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Sending Your Cover Letter as an Email Attachment
Having a separate, attached cover letter suggests that the resume and cover letter are coming from a professional who should be taken seriously as a job candidate. There are, however, cases when it's best not to send an attached cover letter.
If the job posting asks for both a cover letter and resume, that's a strong hint that the employer or recruiter wants both documents sent as attachments. That way they can enter them into their Applicant Tracking System (ATS), scan them for keywords, and print them out for job interviews.
Sending your cover letter as an attachment is an opportunity to make a professional impression. Your resume and cover letter will likely be given (either electronically or as print-outs) to others involved in the interview/hiring process. By using the same letterhead and style/font for both attached documents, you can create a complete "job search package" and provide a consistent "brand identity" to your readers. That's an opportunity you would miss if you didn't attach your cover letter since a print-out of a cover email would look unprofessional and might lack formatting such as your letter head, font choice, bullet points, and other features that sometimes get lost in email transmissions.
Here are a few tips for your cover letter attachment:
- Follow the employer’s instructions regarding what file type to use (MS Word or PDF), which are usually found in the job posting. By following these instructions exactly, you'll ensure that your resume and letter can be opened, read, and processed successfully by the employer.
- Create similar file names for your resume and cover letter attachments. Start both of the file names with your name, written exactly alike for both. That way, when the two get placed alphabetically in a folder on the employer's hard drive, your resume and cover letter will be right next to each other because both of your documents start with the same two words: your first and last names.
- Write a short email message to introduce your attached resume and cover letter. For guidelines on writing a good cover email, see my article 6 Email Cover Letter Tips to Make a Good First Impression, which includes how to write a good email subject line.
- Run an email test. Send the documents to yourself and to someone else you know to make sure the formatting holds and you have sent the correct documents. It's helpful if the other person has a different email system than you have (for example, if you're on gmail and your friend has a yahoo account) since the two email systems may handle your document transfer differently.
When to Copy and Paste the Cover Letter into the Email
There are times when it makes sense to copy and paste your cover letter into the email message. For example, if:
- The job posting states “No attachments,” copy and paste your cover letter and resume into the body of the email.
- Your cover letter is not a long one (roughly 300 words or less), you might copy and paste it into the email message AND attach it to the email.
You can learn more about Beth, Sharlene, and the rest of my Job Search Team by clicking on "Personal Help" in the footer of this page.
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Email Cover Letter Samples
When you're sending an email cover letter, it's important to follow the company's directions on how to submit your cover letter and resume, as well as to make sure that your email cover letters are written as well as any other professional correspondence you send.
Tips for Writing an Email Cover Letter
Write in paragraphs of about two to four sentences and use proper grammar and spelling, just as you would in any other letter.
Though this should be a given, avoid including emoticons or images of any sort.
Perhaps more important than formatting, though, is the content of your cover letter. You can review these email cover letter samples below, but be sure to personalize them when you apply for jobs.
You should tailor these samples not just to your own experience, but also to each job you’re applying for. Pay close attention to the detail of the job description - specifically, the responsibilities and requirements- and make sure your cover letter reflects how you are a good fit for these requirements.
Attaching the Letter to an Email
Take note of how the company requests you submit your cover letter; for example, you may be instructed to attach your cover letter along with your resume. In this case, make sure your cover letter is either in Word document form or is a PDF file.
Pasting the Letter into the Email
If you paste your cover letter into the body of your email, keep your text in the default font of your email provider.
Make sure the text is readable and formatted correctly. For example, avoid long paragraphs or, alternately, a bunch of stacked, short sentences.
Email Cover Letter Example
Subject Line of Email Message: Store Manager Position - Your Name
Dear Hiring Manager,
I read your job posting for the Store Manager position with interest, as the qualifications you are seeking match closely with my professional skills and experience.
I can offer XYZ Company:
- Over five years of retail management experience
- Ability to effectively hire, train, and manage staff
- Payroll management, scheduling, reports, and inventory control expertise
- Extensive work with visual standards and merchandising high-ticket items
In addition to my extensive retail experience, I have excellent communication skills. I always maintain a gracious and professional manner when communicating with people, including customers and store staff. My broad experience and range of skills make me a superior candidate for this position.
My resume, which is below, provides additional information on my background and qualifications. I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible to arrange a time for an interview.
Thank you for your consideration.
More Email Cover Letter Message Samples
Here is a list of more email cover letter samples you can use to get started. This list includes examples of cover letters that target specific types of jobs (full-time, part-time, summer, and volunteer) as well as email cover letters to use at different transitional stages in your career (promotions, job transfer requests).
Email Cover Letter Formatting Examples
For more information about how to format your cover letter, check out the following links:
Email Cover Letter Templates
How to Send an Email Cover Letter
When applying for employment via email, copy and paste your cover letter into the email message or write your cover letter in the body of an email message. Here's how to send an email cover letter.
More About Cover Letters:
Top 10 Cover Letter Writing Tips
What to Include in a Cover Letter