When you apply via email, there are a couple of options. You can write your cover letter directly into an email message (the same rules for writing a proper letter and proofing it apply) and attach your resume (a MS Word attachment is best). Or, you can attach both your resume and letter, as separate documents to the email address. Send yourself a copy, as well (use the bcc: field in your email program). That way you’ll have a copy for your records.
When you send your cover letter in the body of the email address be sure to include your contact information (email address, phone number, etc.) in your signature, so it’s easy for the hiring manager to get in touch with you.
Name your resume. Save a copy of your resume, including your name in the document name i.e. AlisonDoyleResume.doc (YourNameResume.doc). That way it’s easily identified as belonging to you.
Subject line of message. Should include the position you’re applying for and your name. Example: Credit Suisse Analyst job / Alison Doyle.
Signature. Include your contact information (email address, phone number, etc.) in your signature, so it’s easy for the hiring manager to get in touch with you.
Applying online. Applying online via a job site, like Monster or CareerBuilder, or directly at a company’s web site is simple. All you need to do is follow the directions. You will either upload your resume or copy/paste the information from your resume into an online resume builder or application. There also may be an option to upload a cover letter. Again, follow the instructions and it will step you through the process.
What (and What Not) To Do
Do follow the directions. Employers want you do to what they ask and they don’t have much tolerance for applicants who don’t follow the rules. If the job posting says send your resume as a PDF file, don’t send a Word document - convert it. You can do that online (search for Word to PDF conversion) if you don’t have software to convert the file for you. If the directions say include a cover letter, write one or you won’t be considered for the job.
Be very careful. The auto-fill option that is built into many email programs (where the program fills in the email address of who it thinks you are writing to) is dangerous. I know job seekers who weren’t paying attention and ended up sending their resume to their boss by mistake. That’s one reason why using a dedicated email account just for job searching makes sense.
Do not send a resume without a message. I’ve received way too many random resumes attached to an email message. In some cases, I have no clue why the person is sending them to me or what they expect me to do with them. Make sure your email message is clear about why you are sending the resume and what job you are applying for.
Don’t use your work email account. It’s not only not smart to use your work email account to apply for jobs because many companies monitor employee’s email activity, it also won’t make a good impression with prospective employers. How do they know you won’t do the same thing in the future and use their equipment, software, and time to apply for your next job.
Do not use a spam blocker. that requires people who aren’t in your address book to go online and fill out a form before they can send you a message. That happened to me the other day when I responding to someone who had written to me at my About.com Job Searching email address. She said she desperately needed advice, so I took the time to respond only to get an email message saying I need to be an approved sender to write to her. Making someone you want to hire you (or give you advice or help) jump through hoops to respond to you is a really bad idea. Most people won’t bother.