Do's and Don'ts for Emailing Cover Letters and Resumes

By Perri Capell

Question: Will employers frown on replying to job ads from my work email? Also, should I use the email itself as my cover letter or should I attach one? What is the best file format for attachments? Should I follow up with a hard copy?

Answer: Since so much recruiting is conducted online, these are good questions. To start, using your office email address could jeopardize your current employment. Employees' office computers and emails are considered company property, and your employer is free to review your messages at any time.

Using your business address may not be wise for another reason: It shows potential employers that you don't hesitate to use your company's resources for personal gain. "It looks tacky, as though you aren't working," says Mark Hovind, president of Job Bait, a Las Vegas company that provides direct-mail marketing services to job hunters.

Besides, most email servers can be accessed remotely on the Web, so if you need to send out an email immediately to an employer, there's really no reason for using your work address.

As for cover letters, don't attach one unless an employer specifically requests it, because employers don't have time to open and read them, says Christine Goodson, director of talent sourcing for SPX Corp., an industrial manufacturer in Charlotte, N.C., employing about 15,000.

Use your email text as a very brief cover letter, Ms. Goodson says. Just say in about three sentences why you are the best person for the opening and offer your phone number.

"You should say, 'I am applying for this job, I have x, y, and z qualifications, and please call me at this number,'" Ms. Goodson says. "That will capture attention better than anything."

Attaching a resume isn't a problem because virus protection programs typically are in place, says Mr. Hovind. Format the attachment in Microsoft Word, and include in the subject line of your email the title of the job and the number of the posting, if any. Do not follow up with a hard-copy letter and resume, since this duplication will only confuse employers, Ms. Goodson adds.

The exception might be if you're applying to a small employer, or if the employer specifically requests hard-copy material. Always call to get the name of the person in charge of hiring and address your letter to him or her, says Mr. Hovind. "To make the best impression, send it overnight mail," he adds.

Responding to job postings is a passive way to seek work, as well as the least risky, since it's less likely to lead to personal rejection. But with companies receiving hundreds of replies to each ad, the odds of finding work this way aren't in your favor.

The best way to locate a good job that fits you well is by talking with people who know about current or potential openings for someone with your skills. Join groups where you can network to exchange information at meetings, by phone or online.

"People are too passive," says Ms. Goodson. "The best way to job hunt is to network to find someone who knows someone who works at a company."


She's also impressed by applicants who follow up their emails to job postings with a phone call, even when an ad says not to call. Ms. Goodson says only about one person in 25 calls to ask if she has reviewed their resume. "It makes a difference," she says. "I can think of several hires we made because someone took the initiative to call and point me to their resume."

Have a question about job hunting or career management? Send it to Perri Capell . If you don't want your name used in our column, please indicate that. Due to the volume of mail received, we regret that we cannot answer every question.

Article from CareerJournal Today – November 2006

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