Perfecting the Email Cover Letter

Photo by Eren Li from Pexels

Imagine you’re at a cocktail party filled with VIPs. With a smile and a handshake, you introduce yourself to your favorite author and describe how your copy of her latest novel has been passed from friend to friend all the way across the country and back and is now making its way across the Pacific. Then the party’s host whisks away the author to meet many more partygoers. By the end of the night, the author has difficulty keeping everyone she met straight. But she remembers you, thanks to your story, and seeks you out to chat some more.

You want the same results with a cover letter. Your goal is to be interesting and memorable enough to prompt further conversation.

Customize Each Email Cover Letter 

Fight the impulse to send the same copy-and-pasted cover letter to all employers. One size does not fit all. Cover letters are more effective when you tailor them for specific job openings. 

This doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel every time you email a cover letter and resume. It means choosing content that will snag the recipient’s interest.

So do your research about the job, the employer, and the recipient of your resume, if you know who that is. Then include a relevant story of a past achievement that should resonate with the reader in your cover letter.

Develop Email Good Cover Letter Habits 

You’re attaching your resume to the email, so there’s no need to summarize all your achievements, experience, and education in your cover letter.

In two to four short paragraphs, capture the reader’s interest by: 

  • Using a tone that’s professional, but not overly formal.
  • Expressing yourself clearly.
  • Including keywords, not buzzwords. Employers’ software will recognize keywords important to the position. Opt for these, but shun corporate jargon.
  • Establishing connections to the company, especially if you’ve been referred

Email Cover Letter Formatting & Fundamentals 

We shoot emails to colleagues and friends without a thought about grammar and spelling, but as job-seekers, we must step up our game.

Review your email and answer these questions: 

  • Are you emailing the right person? Is the email address correct? Did you spell their name correctly?
  • Are you emailing from an account with an unprofessional-sounding address? has a better chance of being taken seriously than
  • Is your email subject line reader-friendly? recommends concise, informative email subject lines like “Pat Lee – Product Manager Position”.
  • Did you use Helvetica, Arial, or another unfussy font in a standard, readable size and without unnecessary formatting? (Text need never be purple.)
  • Have you followed all the instructions for submitting resumes and cover letters provided in the job posting, such as the types of files accepted for resumes, and what files to attach versus what to include in the body of the email?
  • Is your resume attached? Have you given it a sensible filename? For example, “Pat_Lee_Product_Manager_Resume.pdf”.

Letter Perfect 

Hiring managers want to identify strong candidates quickly and easily. Help them by presenting yourself as someone they should consider further, above other candidates who have not introduced themselves in compelling ways.

You spend a lot of time on your resume. Do the same with email cover letters. A great cover letter won’t get you a job, but a bad one might keep you from getting the job you want. Refine your technique as you go. Practice makes perfect.

Find general best practices for business email on the SaneBox Blog!