E-Mailing a Resume and Cover Letter


This posting is a guest entry from the Career Doctor, Randall S. Hansen, PhD: Ben writes: I have a question concerning submitting my cover page and resume via email. The question is that most companies will not accept attachments so I must submit my resume within the message body of my email vs. attachments. How do I maintain the same appearance as the original written in MS Word?
The Career Doctor responds: The short answer is you can’t. And while appearances are important for traditional cover letters, the most important element is the content. The same holds true for resumes; appearances are important for traditional resumes, but content is the most critical element — regardless of the format. So, how are emailed cover letters different than traditional cover letters? Let me walk you through some of the key issues, but before I do, let me emphasize that you should always go to each employer’s career center site and examine the guidelines for submitting electronic documents, if they list them. Here are the five critical email cover letter issues. First, know the rules of writing a cover letter. If you are still writing “vanilla” cover letters, you won’t get any employer response — no matter how you send it. Second, keep it short. Email cover letters need to be more concise and shorter in length than traditional cover letters. Third, take advantage of keywords. Be sure to use all the keywords from the employment listing — and any other important jargon or keywords from your industry — without making the letter a string of sentences full of jargon. Fourth, watch your line length. Some email software automatically perform line returns for you, but I would make sure the lines of your email are no longer than 60 characters. Fifth, take the time to send the email cover letter to yourself first — so you can see what it looks like after transmission. Finally, as you know, don’t even bother with attachments. Most employers don’t want them. Instead, consider developing Web versions of your resume and providing the URL to the employer (in addition to providing a text-based version). Find more information and guidelines in my article, Tips for a Dynamic Email Cover Letter, published on Quintessential Careers. You can also find more information about types of resumes in the Resume Resources section of Quintessential Careers.