Making sure your job or internship application is flawless can be super stressful, especially when you’re submitting it via email. With so many emails and applicants for employers to review, the slightest mistake can ruin your chances of landing the job. But don’t panic—Her Campus collected some awesome tips from the experts to help you go from inbox to interview!
1. Use a short and simple subject line
Unless the job posting specifies otherwise, get straight to the point in your subject line. Heather R. Huhman, an experienced hiring manager and founder and president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy company, suggests including the title of the position you are applying for, followed by your first and last name. Although you want to stand out from the crowd, you don’t want to clutter a potential employer’s inbox with borderline obnoxious subject lines (save the creativity for your cover letter!). With a simple and standard subject line, employers will know who you are and what you want without any excess information.
2. Optimize your signature
Your signature is a chance to impress the hiring manger, and a good signature will make it easy for him or her to find more information about you.
If you’re a recent graduate, you don’t want to include titles of internship positions you held in college. Instead, Huhman says to include your full name, email address, phone number and relevant social media links that show what you can offer to the employer. For example, Huhman recommends including your personal website or professional page, such as your LinkedIn profile.
If you’re a current student, Carol Spector, the director of Career Services at Emerson College, advises including your degree and graduation date along with your name. Take advantage of helpful tools such as WiseStamp, where you can create a signature that will work best for you.
3. Greet the hiring manager properly
When beginning your email, be sure to address the hiring manager by his or her last name. For example, “Dear Mr. Smith” is more professional and formal than “Dear John.” If the information is not included in the job posting, Huhman says “you should try very hard to find this information elsewhere.” Don’t be too lazy to conduct a Google search! If you absolutely cannot find his or her name, Huhman says “Dear Hiring Manager” is preferred over “To Whom It May Concern.”
4. Attach your files as PDFs
If you’re including your resume and cover letter as an attachment, “you should always send it as a PDF,” Huhman says. “It keeps the formatting of your document regardless [of] what type of device the hiring manager is using.”
Spector also agrees that PDFs are preferred over Word documents, which may cause technical errors. You don’t want question marks to pop up throughout your resume because the hiring manager is using a different version of Word!
As with your subject line, be as straightforward as possible with your file names. For example, “MelissaJonesResume.pdf” allows the employer to organize his or her files. “This also makes it easier for hiring managers to print [them] out and share [them] with colleagues,” Huhman says.
5. Have the perfect body
Summer isn’t the only time you want to show off your bod! Keep the body of your email short and sweet. Spector says a sentence or two is just enough. Be sure to reiterate the position you’re interested in and why, which documents you’ve attached and your contact information. You should also mention that you look forward to hearing from the employer, Huhman says. You should express your interest with a short introduction and let your cover letter and resume do the rest of the “talking.”
For example, if you’re a photographer applying for an assistant photographer position at Cosmopolitan magazine, the body of your email should look similar to this:
“Dear Mr. Smith,
My name is Susan Freedman, and I am writing to express my interest in the assistant photographer position listed on Ed2010. I have been reading Cosmopolitan since I was a teenager and I would love the opportunity to work for the magazine.
I have attached a copy of my cover letter and resume, which demonstrate my creativity and organization, as well as my ability to handle the pressure of deadlines.
I look forward to hearing from you to discuss in more detail how my background can contribute to the Cosmopolitan team. I can be reached at (732) 555-1234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.
6. Proofread for errors
If you’ve read over your email a million times and it seems perfect, check it again! You don’t want to click send and realize afterwards that your computer autocorrected “its” to “it’s.” If you want to make sure your email, cover letter and resume are perfect, try printing out a hard copy of each and reading them out loud. This will help you catch errors you might have missed when reading them. If you can, be sure to ask a career counselor at your school to proofread your email and documents as well. A new set of eyes is often extremely helpful!
7. Correct your mistakes
It can be devastating to find a major error in your email after it has been sent (which is why you should proofread, as advised above!). But we are only human, and if you happened to misspell the company name or you included the wrong position title, your best shot is to resend the application.
“If it’s a minor error, such as a misplaced comma or misspelled word, then it’s probably not worth it to resend your resume or cover letter,” Huhman says. “However, if it’s a glaring mistake or a major typo, then it’s a good idea to resend your application.”
With the second email, briefly tell the hiring manager that you’ve updated your information.
8. Be aware of work hours
In college, it’s totally normal to stay up all night cramming for an exam or sending a research paper to your professor at 3 a.m. However, when emailing a job or internship application, it’s best to send it during work hours. Most professionals are out of reach after business hours or on the weekends, so you should try to send your applications between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday—but earlier in the week, if you can! “I always think that emails received at the end of a week—Friday afternoon—somehow get lost in my inbox,” Spector says.
As graduation day approaches, the time to start the dreaded job search is getting closer and closer. By remembering to be concise, keep a formal tone and remove any “fluff” in your emails, employers and hiring managers are sure to notice you—in a good way!