Email cover letter

We often use email as an informal means of correspondence, but when a job advertisement asks for a cover letter and resume to be forwarded via email, it’s time to ramp things up a notch.

Your cover letter email will create a hiring manager’s first impression of you, so it’s important to make it a good one.

Emails may be quick to write and easy to send but there’s a lot riding on a cover letter email. If it’s not well written or professionally presented your resume may not even be downloaded. Take a look at our top tips to create a strong first impression with an email cover letter.

1. Know what’s required

Check the job posting carefully to know whether your email cover letter and resume should be sent as an attachment or if the lot should be included in the body of the email. If only your resume is to be included as an attachment, use a clear and descriptive file name such as “Cecilia Wang Resume – Web Designer Position” so the recipient can easily identify your document.  Save attachments as a PDF file or Word document – files types that are commonly used.

2. Treat your cover letter email like a formal letter

Draft your email cover letter in much the same way as a hard copy cover letter. Maintain a professional yet warm tone, write words in full without abbreviations, and aim for no more than a single page, breaking up your letter into paragraphs rather than sending a solid chunk of text. It is physically more difficult to read online compared to hard copy so use sub-headers if necessary to break up your letter into user-friendly grabs of information.

3. Keep it simple

Fancy formatting can be lost on different systems so stick to a simple, crisp font like Arial, using a size 10 -12 font for body copy and 14 for headers. Avoid using images, tables, shading or graphics, which can easily be corrupted, to ensure a hiring manager sees your message in the way you intended.

4. Make good use of the subject line

The email subject line should include your name as well as identifying the position you are applying for. A subject line like “Andrew Tan, Junior Accountant Position” will work. Keep this line short and to the point, and if a reference number is included in the job advertisement include this in your subject line (refer to our cover letter sample email below).

5. Customise an email signature

Having an email signature in place makes it very easy for a hiring manager to find your contact details at a moment’s notice. Be sure to include your name, phone number and address in the email cover letter signature line.

6. Tailor each email cover letter to individual roles

If you’re applying for a variety of roles, fine tune your cover letter email (and resume) to reflect the requirements of each role emphasising the suitability of your skills and experience for the job in question.

7. Proof read your email cover letter

A simple typo or spelling mistake can see your job application get an instant thumbs down. Spell check your cover letter (and of course, your resume) taking particular care that you have correctly spelt the name of the company, the position and the recipient. Read the cover letter out loud as it’s easy to mentally anticipate key words even if they’re missing from the text. If in doubt, have a friend cast a second set of eyes over your email cover letter, and correct any mistakes before pressing ‘Send’.

8. Send a test message

To be completely sure your email cover letter will arrive in the layout and form intended, send a test email to yourself. It’s an easy way to be sure no formatting errors occur during transit.

Cover letter sample email

If you’re unsure about how to introduce your resume via email, take a look at our cover letter sample email below.

Subject: Internal Audit Position, Reference: IA 364

Dear Terry (or “Hiring Manager” if no name is offered in the job posting)

Re: Emma Chan, Internal Audit Assistant Position. Your reference: IA 364

I would like to apply for the role of Internal Auditor (your job reference IA 364).

I have experience in internal audit spanning three years, and combined with my knowledge of the banking industry, I believe I can make a substantial contribution to XYZ Limited.

Your company has an outstanding reputation for best practice in internal audit, and having made recommendations to streamline the audit process in my current role, I am keen to be part of your forward-thinking company.

My particular strengths include:

CA qualified
Experience gained with a Big Four accounting firm
Managing and developing a team of five assistant auditors
Management of internal audit function during changeover to new accounting software

Please find my resume attached, which provides further detail on my background, skills and experience.

I look forward to hearing from you to discuss this opportunity further.

Yours sincerely

Emma Chan

Tel: 9452-4217

Set up a separate email account

As a final tip, it can be a smart move to create an email address used solely for job applications. If you run with this option, select a sensible address. Email addresses such as “[email protected]” do little to create a professional image. 

Take a look at our cover letter guide page for more cover letter writing tips and examples.