Q. When you are applying for a job where you have to send an email with your resume and cover letter, what do you say in the actual body of your email?
I always try to say something like “Hello, Attached please find my cover letter and resume to be considered in your search for a Product Branding Marketing Assistant. I believe this is a wonderful opportunity for me and I look forward to speaking with you soon,” but I'm never really sure what to put.
A. Before email, these messages were considered “letters of transmittal” or the message saying there is a message to follow. Kudos to you for knowing that every communication you send matters to a hiring manager and attention to detail keeps you moving forward in the process.
The job search method of last resort is an emailed resume and cover letter, but even here there are things you can do to improve your chances of getting your materials read.
First exhaust all methods of networking to get introduced to the hiring manager, a person in human resources, an employee in the area you’d like to work in, or any current employee. Your goal is to meet with anyone at the company so they can hand carry your paperwork to the appropriate people. If that doesn’t happen, try to get the name of the right person to send the email to so that you don’t have to send your resume to the black hole at jobs@...
In addition, see if you can have a conversation with anyone who works at the company. Many organizations have employee referral programs, and employees are incented to introduce people to the organization. They can get anywhere from $500 to $2500, or more for referring a person who gets hired. This might be the motivation they need to let you use their name.
The "TO" section is now filled with a live person, and you can get a phone number so that you can make a follow up call after you send your resume. In the "SUBJECT" line use “Referred by (employee name) for (job title)" if you were able to make that happen. It will catch the attention of the hiring manager and encourage them to read on. If you don’t have a referral source, use something descriptive and positive as the subject like “Proven (or exceptional) Product Branding Marketing Assistant.”, Take the opportunity to differentiate yourself.
In the email intro, change the approach from why the opportunity is good for you, to what you can do for the company. “The materials describing the contributions I have made in Product Branding Marketing are enclosed. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss how I can have a positive impact with (company name).”
Hiring managers have very little time and attention for written correspondence, so you need to maximize every opportunity you have to get them to the next step of reading a great resume of accomplishments, and a cover letter explaining how you will make significant contributions to the company. Try and focus on what is in it for them.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.