If you’re looking for a job, you’ve probably faced the annoyance of online application systems that make you jump through hoops and submit the same information multiple times. When you come across a job posting that asks you to apply by email, it can be a welcome break from the automated systems. But now, you need to write a job application email. We’ll show you how to write a job application email that catches the hiring manager’s attention and makes them want to know more, plus what not to include to avoid getting eliminated from the running.
What is a job application email?
A job application email is similar to a cover letter, but it’s written in the body of an email versus being a separate attachment.
Some companies, like smaller ones that don’t use specialized software to handle job applications, prefer to keep things simple and hear from applicants by email (you’ll know this is the case because they’ll direct you to an email address to apply versus a website or online form). In these cases, a job application email is what you send the hiring manager.
A job application email is generally shorter than a traditional cover letter. Because it will be viewed on a screen, it needs to be easy for a reader to scan and shouldn’t contain long blocks of text.
Why it’s important to send a job application email
You should be excited when a company instructs you to apply via email. You rarely get an invitation directly into a hiring manager’s inbox, and there’s a very strong chance your message will be read by an actual human rather than a piece of screening software. This doesn’t happen with every job opening, so taking advantage of it is important.
A job application email empowers you to make a strong first impression. It allows you to present your most desirable skills and impressive achievements to the hiring manager before they even get to your resume, which is great for playing up your strengths as a candidate. It’s especially useful if you don’t have the strongest resume and must impress a hiring manager in other ways.
When should you send a job application email
When responding to a job posting
This situation is pretty straightforward. Tailor the email to the job you want and follow the same general guidelines you’d use when writing a cover letter.
When reaching out to a hiring manager
Sometimes you want to touch base with a hiring manager, even if it’s not concerning a specific opening. Maybe you met them at a networking event and want to follow up, or perhaps you were a final-round candidate for a previous position and want to check back to see if any other new job openings are on the way. Your job application email can be customized to fit the circumstances.
When you’ve been referred for a job
When you’ve received a referral from someone who currently works at the company or who is close with the hiring manager, it’s a good idea to use a job application email. This is true even if the job posting directs candidates to apply online. Send your email to the person who’s referring you and have them forward it directly to the hiring manager.
What to include in a job application email
Direct subject line
Be direct and state the job you’re applying for. For example, ‘John Smith – data scientist application.’
This is an email, so you want to follow typical email conventions like being concise. Don’t write a novel. From the first sentence, jump right into the good stuff–like why you’re applying and what makes you a strong candidate.
You need to back up your candidacy with facts, especially real-world examples of your past successes. Stats and performance numbers work great, too.
Just because you’re keeping the email copy brief doesn’t mean you can’t share more. Use attachments to add other materials like a longer cover letter, your resume, and portfolio samples if relevant.
Use a formal email signature that includes your full name, phone number, and any relevant outside links, like your LinkedIn profile or professional website.
What you should omit
You want to make this email count, not share information the hiring manager can find elsewhere. Lead with your strongest, most relevant qualifications, and save the fine print for your resume.
Grammar and spelling errors
An email may feel more casual than a formal cover letter, but you still want to present yourself as the utmost professional. Before sending, scan your letter carefully (and ask a trusted friend to do the same) to ensure the text is error-free.
Sample job application email
Be sure to send your email from a professional email address. Send a test email to yourself and a friend or two first to ensure the formatting looks good before sending it off to the hiring manager.