Many employers only accept job applications by e-mail, so if you want to stay competitive in the world of job seeking, you must master e-mail etiquette. Just as when you send in a hard copy of your resume and cover letter, you need to maintain a professional and formal tone when e-mailing your reply to a job posting.
Craft a compelling subject line. Include the job title or job reference number in your subject line so employers immediately know your e-mail is a job application and not spam. To quickly get the employer's attention, elaborate on your qualifications in the subject line with a statement such as "National award-winning business journalist for editor-in-chief position."
Follow basic cover letter protocol. Don't treat an e-mail application the same way you do an e-mail to a close friend or family member. Use the same conventions you would in a hard-copy application. Open your e-mail with a formal salutation using either the person's name, such as "Dear Mr. Smith" or his title, such as "Dear Hiring Manager." Include spaces between paragraphs and don't use abbreviations such as "thx" instead of "thank you."
Read the instructions carefully. Employers often include detailed instructions regarding how job seekers should e-mail their applications. They may ask for only a resume or for a cover letter and a resume. In addition, they may ask you to e-mail samples of your work, especially if it's in a creative field such as writing or graphic design. Before you hit "send," go over the instructions again so you don't send the e-mail to the wrong person or omit a crucial step.
Follow the company's policy regarding e-mail attachments. Many employers won't open e-mail attachments because of the dangers of e-mail viruses and malware, and may block incoming e-mails that include attachments. Some companies require you to send attachments in a specific file format, such as plain text, PDF or a Word document. If the job posting doesn't include instructions regarding attachments, e-mail or call and ask the company. Or, include your cover letter and resume in the body of the e-mail instead. Because e-mail programs use different formatting, send the e-mail to yourself first so you can preview how it will look to the recipient.
Keep your cover letter short. Quintessential Careers founder Randell S. Hansen stresses that brevity is crucial in an e-mail cover letter. Hansen recommends limiting e-mail letters to between two and three paragraphs, or 150 words.
Include a professional closing. The TechRepublic article "Create a Cover Letter That Gets Results," recommends listing your contact information at the end of the e-mail even if you included it at the beginning of your letter. Sign off with a formal salutation such as "Sincerely" or "Kind regards."