An email cover letter is the content of an email you send with your resume. Its purpose is to explain why you're applying and introduce yourself in a very brief manner. Email cover letters are much shorter than regular cover letters you'd submit via job boards or as attachments.
Long story short:
An email cover letter isn't your good ol’ cover letter all over again.
If you’re applying for a job via email instead of using job boards, you’ve got a golden opportunity to get remembered by the hiring manager. But—
To make it happen, you need the best email cover letter out there.
And you are going to have one. Read on, and I’ll show you:
- An email cover letter sample that will help you land that interview.
- A tried-and-true email format for cover letters that showcases your most valuable strengths.
- How to write a cover letter in an email to get any job you want.
- Little known hacks for sending your cover letter email with a resume for greatest impact.
First, have a look at this universal, simple email cover letter sample. What do you think makes it so special?
Sample Email Cover Letter Template You Can Adjust and Use
I’ll tell you one thing, Jacob can expect the callback anytime!
It’s a perfect email cover letter template you can tweak so that it fits your situation, and use to apply for any job.
As you can see above, you should format your email cover letter just as any other semi-formal email. Use a standard, elegant font and double spacing between paragraphs. At the bottom, include your contact information, just as you’d do in the footer of any professional email you send.
Writing a regular cover letter to attach to your resume email? Learn how to make the most of it from our complete cover letter writing guide: How to Write a Cover Letter for Any Job Application
For more tips on formatting your cover letter, see: Cover Letter Formatting Guide
Need more detailed information on how to apply for a job via email? Don’t know how to find your hiring manager’s email address? Here’s a guide that will show you tons of useful tips and tricks: Job Application Email: How, When, Who to Send Your Resume To
And if you’re eying an internship and crafting an email cover letter for fresh graduates, see this article: Internship Cover Letter Sample & Writing Guide
One last thing before we go on:
Email cover letter—body or attachment?
Either. But not both.
Truth is, this choice won’t be decisive for your job hunt, so don’t obsess over it.
My suggestion is—if you’re applying by email, you’re risking that your message will reach the hiring manager in a hurry, so don’t make them open TWO attachments. Write your cover letter in your email body and enclose only your resume.
Want to save time and have your professional job application ready in minutes? Here are a sample cover letter and a matching resume made with our resume and cover letter builder. Write your cover letter and resume here.
Resume and a sample cover letter for a job application. See +15 resume and cover letter templates and create your job application here.
So you’ve seen a jaw-dropping job application email cover letter. Now, let’s break down what makes this email format for cover letters so great.
Strong Subject Line: the Only Guarantee Your Email Cover Letter Gets Opened
It won’t matter if your achievements are breathtakingly impressive or your skills fit all requirements of the job you’re trying to land…
If no one opens your job application email cover letter.
And guess what? That depends only on the subject line.
Make the most of it. In the subject line for an email cover letter with a resume, include:
- Who you are,
- That you’re applying for a job,
- The position,
- The company name,
- Job ID (if applicable).
Like the candidate from our sample, Jacob did:
Sample Email Cover Letter Subject Line
Senior Software Engineer Seeks Software Development Team Lead Position with XYZ (ID: 123436284).
Pro Tip: The only instance when all of the above is of no consequence? When the employer demands all applicants to use the same subject line, for example, “Application for Position XYZ - [Your Name].” If so—you have to play by their rules.
How long should your cover email subject be?
As long as it needs to be to include all of the above info and as short as possible.
Need an exact figure?
Number of email subject characters displayed varies across devices and operating systems:
- For desktop email applications it’s within the range of 46 (Yahoo Mail) to 70 (Gmail).
- Mobile email clients? From 30 characters (Android; portrait) to 64 characters (iPhone; landscape).
To stay on the safe side, begin your subject line with the name of your position. It’s sure to stay within the narrowest, 30-character range, and the hiring manager will immediately know what vacancy the message is about.
Proper Greeting to Show Your Professionalism
The best way to start your email cover letter is with “Dear” + the hiring manager’s name.
Personalization will make the hiring manager feel like they’re reading something made specifically for them.
Don’t know the name of your hiring manager?
Do some research!
- Double check the job ad.
- Check LinkedIn. Job offers on LinkedIn often identify the one who did the posting.
- Check the company website. Try to find the head of the department on the company's staff page.
- Ask friends. You can use LinkedIn to check if you've got contacts at the company. A Facebook shout-out may work too.
- Call. If all else fails, call the receptionist and ask who the contact person is.
Pro Tip: Tried all of the above to no avail? Go with “Dear [Team Name] Hiring Manager,” or “Dear [Team Name] Hiring Team,” for instance: “Dear Customer Service Hiring Manager” or “Dear Project Management Hiring Team.” The two greetings you have to avoid are: “To Whom It May Concern,” and “Dear Sir or Madam.”
For more details on how to address your email cover letter, see this handy guide: How to Address a Cover Letter to the Right Person
First Sentence: Short and To-The-Point
Sending your cover letter in an email instead of using job boards is an excellent strategy for escaping the resume black hole.
But there’s one downside.
While hiring managers book specific time slots for reviewing resumes and cover letters they got through their online recruitment systems, your email, as I said before, might reach them in a rush. For instance, heading out to a meeting or dealing with an urgent problem.
In an email cover letter, don’t make the hiring manager read between the lines of some fancy storytelling.
Be as straightforward as possible.
Email Cover Letter Example: First Sentence
Attached you will find my resume with detailed work experience for the position of [XYZ].
And that’ll do.
Main Paragraph: Relevance is Key
You’re not applying for a job. You’re applying for this job.
For the hiring manager, it doesn’t matter how great your career has been so far. What matters is how you can help the company with their upcoming tasks and challenges.
Show that in your email cover letter body:
- Read the job description carefully, identify what your responsibilities will be.
- Then, research the company online, try to find out what projects they’re running or plan to launch in the future.
- Outline your professional achievements that can translate into success in your prospective role.
- Highlight what you have to offer.
Remember Jacob, the candidate from our sample?
The company he’s applying to, XYZ Corp., is looking for a Software Development Team Lead to supervise the development of new mobile apps.
That’s what his tailored, brief email cover letter reads:
Sample Short Email Cover Letter Body
As a senior software engineer at ABC Inc., with a proven record of developing and optimizing the most strategic mobile apps and online software, increasing annual mean NPS to over 60.0 (32% rise) and cutting Customer Effort Scores in half [your achievements most relevant to the job you’re trying to land], I am sure I can help XYZ achieve similar results [an offer to leverage your experience to the benefit of your future employer] with your upcoming project of developing mobile apps for personal finance and easy online trading [knowledge of your employer’s plans and your responsibilities].
Pro Tip: I can’t stress this enough—an email cover letter has to be shorter than one you would include as an attachment. How short exactly? Your go-to word count should be 150, tops.
In need of some extra tips for your cover letter? Check out: 35+ Easy Cover Letter Tips You Can Use Today
Call to Action
So the hiring manager knows you’re a great candidate. Job done?
Not quite. Take an extra step. Reiterate your value in the call to action:
- Ask the hiring manager to reach out to you and meet in person.
- Once again, focus on what you have to offer.
Again, let’s have a look at the call to action from our sample:
Sample Email Cover Letter—Call to Action
Can we schedule a meeting [asking them to reach out to you] to discuss my insights and ideas on making XYZ’s software development quicker and more effective, while boosting all major KPIs [restating your offer]?
Pro Tip: The two worst things you can do in your email cover letter closing are coming off as needy (I’m sure I’d make a great employee, just give me a shot!) or generic (Thank you for your time and consideration).
For more ideas on strong and compelling ways to finish your cover letter, go here: How to End a Cover Letter the Right Way
Once you’ve written your email cover letter for a resume, you just need to put a formal greeting at the very end.
Write “sincerely” and follow it with your full name.
If you’re not a fan of the well-worn, “sincerely,” feel free to use any of the following synonyms:
Sample email cover letter sign-offs:
- Thank you,
- Best regards,
- Kind regards,
- With best regards.
Pro Tip: Under your sign-off, put the necessary contact information, such as your LinkedIn profile, email address, and telephone number. To save yourself the effort of adding them every time you send an email covering letter, you can include them automatically in the footer of your email. You can also include a digital copy of your handwritten signature. It will add a nice, professional touch.
So you’ve just written your perfect, short email cover letter. Now you’re basically guaranteed to land that interview, right?
Let me just quote what one recruiter wrote in her LinkedIn article:
Your email arrived with a cover letter in the main body. I was really impressed and could not wait to review your resume. There was only one problem. You’d forgotten to attach it.
I replied to your email asking you to reattach your resume and you did not respond until the following day. In any case, it was already too late.
I don’t think you really wanted that job.
And I don’t think I need to explain further, do I?
Pro Tip: If you have forgotten to attach a resume to your email cover letter, don’t resend the whole message, just shoot a quick follow-up email with your resume attached. Would rather avoid this nightmare scenario? Attach all the necessary documents before you start writing a cover letter email.
One last thing to keep in mind:
Choose a professional file name for your resume attachment:
“[Your first and last names]-resume-[the company name],” for example: John-Smith-resume-Intel NOT My-resume-124.
To write a perfect cover letter email for a job application, follow these steps:
- Use a clear, strong subject line.
- Open with a proper greeting—address the hiring manager by their name.
- In the first sentence, explain why you’re writing and what position you’re targeting.
- Write a brief main paragraph that outlines your most relevant experience and achievements.
- Close with a call to action—ask to schedule a meeting and reiterate your offer.
- Sign-off with a “sincerely” synonym and your full name.
- Put your contact details in the footer.
- Don’t forget to attach a resume to your cover letter email!
And, for the final piece of advice:
Keep it short.
Got any additional questions about writing and sending a cover letter email? Want to share your experience with applying by a direct email message? Give me a shout in the comments. I can’t wait to hear out your thoughts. Let’s chat!