The cover email: 10 essential points

The rules applicable when writing a letter on paper are also valid for a cover email. Visit our cover letter section.

1. Length of the text.

On a paper version, a cover letter has to fit on an A4 page. The electronic version shouldn’t be longer.

2. Structure

Follow a You – Me – Us structure just like you would on a paper cover letter. Use different paragraphs. Proofread and check the spelling.

3. Email address

If the recruiter’s name is mentioned in the ad, send your letter or email directly to their attention. Make sure your email is addressed to a single recipient.

4. Subject line

If you are replaying to an ad, write down the ad’s reference number along with the name of the position.

If you are sending a spontaneous application, here is some advice:

  • Clearly indicate in the subject line that you are writing a speculative application.

  • You can also mention your profession and years of experience.

5. Forms of address

Forms of address have to be observed even when writing an email. Just like a letter, an email is generally addressed to someone in particular. Use Dear Mrs. [Name]  or Dear Mr. [Name]  in the salutation line.

6. Signature

It is not necessary to add your handwritten signature at the bottom of an email. Just write your first and last names followed by your full contact information. If you are attaching a cover letter in pdf you can either scan it after printing and signing it, or else paste the image of your signature on the bottom left of the page, right under your name. If you don’t have an image of your signature, just write your first and last names as a signature.

7. Contact information

Even if your email address states your first and last names, it is better to add your full contact information (address + phone number) right below your signature. This is a general rule to follow when writing a professional email.

8. Naming your documents

The name of your documents should always contain your last name and first name – removing any accents or apostrophes – before a description of the document itself. This will help the recruiter finding your documents.

For example, if your name is Mary O’Sullivan, you can name your documents:

  • osullivan_mary_CV

  • osullivan_mary_cover_letter

  • osullivan_mary_references

  • osullivan_mary_diplomas

  • etc.

Keep in mind that the person receiving your documents probably has to manage more than a hundred different applications.

9. Technical constraints

The recipient of your email might not be equipped with the same software as you do. If you are at the cutting edge and have the latest programs available consider saving your document in an earlier version to make sure that your recipient can open it without any problem. Pay attention to the size of the attachments.

10. Stay away from

  • Smileys

  • Color fonts (unless you work in a creative industry)

  • Copy-paste of an older message where the name of another recipient appears

Summary