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Tips for Seeking Employment by Email

Tips for job seeking via email.

What is the proper way to email a cover letter and resume to a prospective employer? That is a great question and one I get asked quite often. Let’s go over all the variables that you need to consider.

You cannot underestimate the power of perception when seeking employment. On or off-line. Online, those you email do not have eye contact, a firm handshake, or your body language to determine your expertise and professionalism. Therefore, we must ensure our presentation is spot on to compensate for that.

How to Impress

Employers rely on how you communicate, the quality of your documents, and how you approach them to determine if you are someone they want to communicate with and represent their business.

The issues covered in my Business Email Etiquette Basics Article will contribute to a positive perception. Beyond that, how you approach prospective employers online can go a long way to getting that all-important follow-up.

If you are going to use technology to job hunt, you have to make sure you reflect the skill set to do so impressively. Or you could end up being excluded right out of the gate.

The Intro Email

Your email will set the table for your first impression. Start by including a brief and professional note detailing your attached documents and why you are making contact.

If you spoke with or had previous contact with the prospective employer:

Dear (Miss/Mr./Mrs….):

Per our conversation, please find attached my resume for the [job post info] opportunity we discussed.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have. Thank you for your time and consideration.

FirstName LastName
Phone: 555-555-1212

Short and simple. Let your cover letter and resume do the talking.

Cold-call Application

If you are cold-call applying based on a posted opportunity:

Dear (Miss/Mr./Mrs….): (Don’t know the contact name — find out!)

In response to your posting for [job post info] on [note where you saw the posting], I am attaching my resume for your review.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have. Thank you for your time and consideration.

FirstName LastName
Phone: 555-555-1212

Formality matters. Hence the proper greeting. The level of formality that should be used for inquiries seeking employment is no different by email than by snail mail. Never underestimate how being lax or informal can have a negative impact.

File Names and Format

If a specific format is not noted, send your cover letter and resume in one PDF file. PDF is the only format that will ensure your layout is viewed as intended on any operating system.

For example, if you send it in Word format and the employer has WordPerfect (or vice-versa), the software will try to convert it to the native format. The layout of your documents can end up not being as impressive as you planned. You’ve lost control of your presentation.

If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat software to create a PDF file
there are several free applications and services online that will
convert your documents for you.

You want to name your file so that the file name is descriptive of what is contained within:


You could even add the position you are applying for too:


This helps to make sure once they have your resume on their computer, they know who and what job it is for at a glance. You also are helping them be organized, and that’s a bonus point for you.

Common Mistakes

I get unsolicited resumes sent to me every so often. And I’ve never posted an opportunity or position. In these unasked-for emails, I see the same mistakes made pretty regularly.

Make sure you consider the following when seeking employment opportunities:

  • To rise above your perceived competitors, you should ensure your inquiries are explicitly tailored to the position and the company you are approaching. Generic mass mailings are viewed as just that.
  • Seek out the email address and name of the person you should email with your employment inquiry. Then follow their instructions on how to do so to the letter. This will reflect whether you are able and willing to pay attention to detail. If need be, pick up the phone and ask who to specifically address inquiries to before blindly sending unsolicited files.
  • You want to make a deliberate and specific point of detailing the exact skills and experience the company seeks for the position you are applying to. They don’t care about what you did 10, 15 years ago as much as what you can do for them now. Describe what you’ve accomplished recently that applies directly to their needs and requirements.
  • Avoid sending unsolicited email resumes. Most sites will offer an available opportunities area on their site, and if they don’t, pick up the phone and find out before you send without notice. A courtesy email asking if there are any opportunities and requesting permission to send your resume first is highly recommended instead of blindly sending it along.
  • Send your resume to the specified address given or provided on an employer’s site for resume submissions. Do not send to any email address you find; worse yet, send multiple copies to multiple addresses. Take the time to review the employer’s site to determine the appropriate address to use.
  • Keep your resume limited to a brief cover letter stating your interest in the specific position you are emailing about. A resume of no more than two pages that highlights and tailors your previous job experience as it relates to the position you are applying for is all that is needed. You can note additional information will be provided upon request.
  • Refrain from formatting with colors or adding multiple photos or graphics to spruce up your resume.
  • Do not use Return Receipt to track when/if your resume was received or opened. This can be viewed as intrusive and will most likely be declined anyway.
  • Have a friend or associate review your cover letter and resume to catch any misspellings or grammatical mistakes that you may have missed. I know from experience you can miss what is right in front of your eyes — happens to me all the time.

Opportunities are out there…

But you have to be selective. You want to do what is in your power to make the best impression among all the other applicants targeting the same position.

Emailing your resume willy-nilly certainly isn’t a professional or effective approach. By taking your time, using common sense, and doing your due diligence, you’ll rise above other applicants that disregard the importance of paying attention to detail.

Taking the time to make a good impression is precisely how you create your own good luck.

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