Email has, essentially, replaced the cover letter for most jobseekers and employers. It’s quick, easy to send, easy to review and practically universal. However, just because something is easy doesn’t mean you will always get it right. In fact, people get email applications wrong all the time – let’s take a look at the most common errors and how to avoid them.
Inappropriate Email address
It doesn’t matter how long you have owned it or how many services it’s assigned to, firstname.lastname@example.org is not an appropriate email address from which to send job applications. Employers will use every available piece of information to assess you from both a technical and personal point of view. A juvenile or inappropriate email will be an instant red flag.
Sending to the wrong person
Sending a CV outlining your value can be a really effective way of getting to the front of the queue before a role is advertised. However, you need to make sure you contact the right person. Don’t send it to HR – send it to the person you want to work for. Find out who runs your department and contact them because they’ll know they need you long before HR does.
Misspellings/ Bad Grammar
Let’s not dwell on this. Check everything you send for spelling and grammar. Then check it again. Then send it to a friend or colleague to review and, once you have checked their changes, you’re ready to send. Don’t rely on spellcheck, it will let you down.
Too much info
People naturally expect emails to be short so keep the detail to a minimum. Introduce yourself, briefly outline one or two reasons you are a good fit for the role and invite the reader to read your CV – you don’t need much more than that.
Of course, you can go too far with this. If you’re too brief, it will come across as though you don’t care about the job or don’t deem it worthy of your time. Keep it brief but make sure your email gives the reader a reason to review your CV.
Creating your own templates
Keeping three or four different versions of email applications saved in your drafts or sent folders can be a good timesaver – but it’s only for great proof-readers. From leaving in the wrong hiring manager or company name to obvious changes in font size and colour – copying and pasting leaves you open to many potential errors.
Even if you are careful about proofing templates you could run into problems. If you apply to the same company more than once with the same, or very similar templates, it will be very obvious. If the email goes to the same person their email app may even connect the two into a conversation to make your copy/pasting even more obvious.
Online templates that suggest certain phrasing for lines like ‘my attached CV outlines all of my relevant skills and experience’ can be problematic too. No matter how well that career coach has written the line – it won’t look good if a hiring manager gets 30 emails using the same line.
Like spelling and grammar, always check that you have attached your CV before sending. Then check again.
Once you’ve checked a third time you’re ready to send.
Too many attachments
The hiring manager will see each attachment as more time they need to spend on your application – time they probably don’t have. Make sure you only ever send the docs requested on the job ad. Even if you have a huge portfolio of support materials that prove you are the best person for the job – if the hiring manager didn’t ask for them they may never read your email to find out.
Too many applications
Finally, email is so quick and easy it can tempt you into applying for anything and everything. The problem with that is you end up spamming companies or sending lots of low-quality applications. Your job will be central to your life – you can only find the right one by applying to roles that suit your skills and career goals. If you’re sending 175 applications in one sitting you are not doing that.
Email may be a simple and quick method of job application but it’s also easy to get wrong. Send the right applications, with the right information, check and double check them and make the most of every application.