As job hunters well know, time can be of the essence. This is especially true if an acquaintance at a hiring company has recommended that you apply for a position without delay. Writing an email seeking a job is a bit less formal than writing a cover letter, but you still should cover the obvious points: your experience and qualifications, and the contributions you could make to the company. Remember that an email is not a Word document, so be sure that your email consumes just under one full screen. This means that you probably will have to condense the contents of your traditional cover letter, which can serve as a helpful reference point.
Write an upbeat, purposeful subject line for your email that hints at the position or discipline. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence, but it should be an attention-grabber. You might say, for example, “Accomplished, can-do marketing specialist” or “Skilled marketing specialist with diverse media contacts.”
Set your margins so that they are flush-left, which is easier on the eyes in an email format. Do not indent any spaces for new paragraphs.
Address the hiring manager or supervisor by her full name. Use her first name only if you know her or have addressed her by her first name in the past.
Open your letter with a direct statement of purpose, stating the referral’s name or the other impetus for your speedy means of introduction. You might say, for example, “I am writing at the behest of (state the referral’s name and position), who suggested that I would make a valuable asset to your team as a marketing specialist.”
Highlight your work experience, and especially your accomplishments. You may have devoted several paragraphs to this information in a traditional cover letter, but should condense it to one paragraph in an email.
Summarize your personal characteristics, presenting them in terms of how they would be of value to the company. For example, you might say that you work well under deadline pressure or are capable of managing multiple projects at once. Say that you are “confident” that these abilities would enable you to make “worthwhile contributions” to the company’s efforts.
Express your wish to meet in person to discuss the open position after she has had sufficient time to review your resume; then point out that you have attached it. You also may wish to refer to a list of references.
Say that you will follow up within a few days. Then thank her for her time and consideration.
Invoke the business formality of signing off your letter with “Sincerely.” Then type your name and put your contact information -- cell phone number and email address -- underneath. This is one of the biggest differences between traditional emails and cover letters, which usually feature contact information at the top of the page.
Proofread and edit your letter before sending it. Like all cover letters, it should be flawless.
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Quick Content Tips for Cover Letters
- Cover Letters: Types and Samples
- Sophisticated Edge.com: Sample Letter of Intent for Employment
- Office Writing.com: Cover Letter Format
- Letters from the Homeroom: Writing a Letter of Interest
- Colorado State University: Writing Guide: Business Letters
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Writing the Basic Business Letter
- Concise Writing.com: Clear, Concise Writing from Bold Visions
- Writing Forward.com: Proofreading and Editing for Polished, Professional Writing
- The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: Writing Concisely
- An email often engenders an email response rather than a phone call, so be sure to check your inbox often for a reply to your email. A prompt reply is the mark of a true professional and will underscore your interest in the position.
With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.