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Brilliant Cover Letters by James Innes

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CHAPTER 5
Digital
considerations
email and fax
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M05_INNE4636_01_SE_C05.QXP:M00_INNE4636_01_SE_C00 27/7/09 11:11 Page 106
W
e live in an increasingly digital world and, as I mentioned in
Chapter 1, I readily expect you to be making the majority of
your applications by email (or fax) rather than by post.
Email and fax differ from good old-fashioned snail mail in a number of
ways, and I will be discussing these differences – and how to handle them
– in this chapter.
Emailing your application
Email is increasingly the preferred method of
sending documents. It is perfectly possible
that you will end up making the majority of
your applications by email rather than by post.
I have heard it said that ‘cover letters are for the pre-Internet era’ the
suggestion being that for most job applications, all you need to do is send
an email with your CV attached.
But what do you say in your email?
You say exactly what you would in a ‘traditional’, printed cover
letter.
The only real difference is the method used to send the letter. Pretty
much all of the other rules of cover letter writing still apply:
G You still need to make an impact.
G You’re still competing against countless others for the reader’s
attention.
email is increasingly the
preferred method of
sending documents
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108 brilliant Cover L etters
G You still need to give them a compelling reason to read your CV
(except that in this case they won’t have it right there in front of
them; they actually need to click to open it).
However, there are certain practicalities that you need to deal with.
Email etiquette
‘Subject’ line
Never leave it blank! It’s extremely unprofessional to do so. But do keep
it short and simple. You could specify the vacancy title and reference if
applicable. If you’re making a speculative application, on the other hand,
you might need to be a little more inventive and make a greater effort to
catch the recipient’s attention. Don’t go over the top though; you certainly
don’t want to risk your email being labelled as spam and discarded.
Form of address
You can of course remove any text from the date upwards your letter-
head and the recipient’s name and address. All of this is superfluous when
applying by email. The first line of your email can simply start, ‘Dear . . .
Please bear in mind that just because this is
an email, that’s no reason to start with ‘Hi, or
suchlike. Start your email just as you would a
printed letter: ‘Dear . . . This isn’t an email to
a pal; it’s an important business letter.
Content
I would definitely not recommend sending your cover letter as an email
attachment. The chances of it getting read will drop dramatically. Whilst
CVs should always be sent as attachments (because they normally look
awful when copied and pasted into an email), you should place the con-
tents of your cover letter in the body of your email.
Signature
Many people have an automated email ‘signature’ that goes out at the
bottom of every email they send. Whatever yours says, remember that it
will be seen by potential employers.You might decide a rewrite is in order!
A good idea is to repeat your telephone number(s).
start your email just as
you would a printed
letter
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