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Don’t Get Trashed! How to Write a Job Application Email

I'm writing in response to your open position at...

Woman writing a job application email

Sometimes the cover letter, resume, and various application materials simply aren’t enough for hiring managers and recruiters—they want it all sent by email attachments. That means you also need to compose a job application email.

Of course, the application email and cover letter are two very different beasts. You can’t just copy and paste your cover letter and call it a day. So, we’ve compiled a best practice list: what you should and shouldn’t do to make that job application email as succinct, complete, and polished as the perfect haiku.

Beer and hamburgers

Before anything else, get a real email address if you don’t already have one. It doesn’t matter how good your job application email is—if the first thing a recruiter sees is that your return email is “beer-chuggin-good-time-lovin@hotmail,” they’ll pass

Next, follow all subject line instructions exactly. If the job ad says to send your resume by email with the word “hamburger” in the subject line, do it. It may seem ridiculous, but the recipient knows that you read the full ad and can follow instructions. It also means they can, at a glance, clear their inbox of those applicants who didn’t.

If no instructions are given for the subject line, Michael Tomaszewski at resume builder platform Zety, says make the most of it. Put your full name as applicant, the position you’re applying for, the company name and job ID number if applicable.

Watch your language

Just because it’s a short email doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using business format and language. Start with the salutation: Don’t use “Hey!” or a person’s first name when addressing them in a job application email (unless you have a prior relationship with that person). Typically erring on the side of formality (“Dear Ms. XXX”) is better than being too informal. (You can reference this guide on addressing a cover letter—the same rules apply here.)

Similarly, the body should include the reason for the email, what’s attached and a thank you with an appropriate sign-off and signature that contains your full name and contact information.

A sample job application email from the University at Albany reads:

Dear Ms. Fernandez:

I am writing to apply for the position of Marketing Assistant which was posted on your website. I have attached my cover letter and resume for your review and I believe that you will find that my qualifications meet all of your requirements. Please contact me at (518) 555-1212 or at rw123456@albany.edu if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you about scheduling an interview.

Sincerely,

Ronald R. Weasley

Another, slightly less formal cover email comes from career strategist Jenny Foss. It serves as a letter of interest and reads:

I’ve learned you are seeking a senior project manager with ecommerce experience and knowledge of Jira. That’s me. My attached resume and cover letter outline my qualifications for the role. Thank you very much for your consideration. I hope to hear from you soon!

And from Harvard Law School, the sample job application email reads: 

Dear Mr. Johnson,

I am writing to apply for a summer internship with [EMPLOYER]. Attached please find my resume, cover letter, and writing sample. Please let me know if you need any additional information. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Julia Richards

Attachments first (to avoid embarrassment)

Don’t be that person who is perfect for the job, but blows it by forgetting to attach their cover letter and resume to their email. When writing your job application email, the first thing you should do is add all your attachments and the LAST thing is to insert the email address of the recipient.

Good luck!

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By Stephanie Olsen

Contributor

Stephanie Olsen is a freelance writer and copy editor. She writes about everything from women’s issues in the workplace and Ethiopian coffee culture to facilities management and expatriate life. Laughs uproariously at her own jokes.  

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