6 Email Cover Letter Rules For 2014

Published: Jan 09, 2014

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6 Email Cover Letter Rules For 2014 January 9, 2014

Here are six tips for a better email cover letter.

By Angela Rose for BioSpace.com

Take a moment to think about the resumes you’ve submitted by email. How many resulted in interviews? How many did not? If you’re like most biopharma job seekers, the answer to the second question is probably more than a few—and your email cover letter may be to blame. If you’re not giving this digital introduction the consideration it deserves, you may be encouraging biotech hiring managers to delete your missive. Fortunately, it’s never too late to improve your approach. Consider the following tips as your ultimate guide to better email cover letters. Take them to heart, use them wisely—more interviews will be your reward.

1. Consider the subject line carefully.

Savvy marketers know that email subject lines influence open rates and lead to more sales. Make the most of this opportunity each time you email a resume. Rather than leaving the space blank or typing in nothing more exciting than the job number, enter an articulate sentence designed to capture the hiring manager’s attention. For example, you might try, “Biological Technician with 30 Years in the Industry Seeks Challenging New Position.”

2. Never send your cover letter as an attachment.

Biotech hiring managers are busy. They don’t have time to download and open multiple documents. If you attach your cover letter to the email, they’re likely to ignore it. Instead, make it easy for them to read your carefully crafted words. Copy and paste the content of your cover letter into the body of your email. Don’t forget to add a salutation and a confident closing (such as “I look forward to speaking to you soon”).

3. Keep it brief and to the point.

Few hiring managers are going to scroll through pages upon pages of irrelevant details. For best results, create an email cover letter of no more than three to four paragraphs in length. The first paragraph is perhaps the most important. If you’ve met the hiring manager before, or are applying for a position as a result of an employee referral, mention that here. Then go on to explain your interest in the opportunity and your unique qualifications.

4. Don’t skip the cover letter altogether.

Whether you’re a research assistant, a QC analyst, or a scientist, you’re not doing yourself any favors if you attach your resume to an email that reads, “Resume attached,” or, even worse, one containing no information at all. This is the first impression the hiring manager will form of you—don’t make it a blank one. At minimum, take the time to introduce yourself—and try to make it memorable.

5. Don’t use a cover letter template.

A cover letter copied from the Internet—even one written for the biotech industry—is never going to impress anyone. Customization is absolutely essential if you want to prove your interest in a particular opportunity. Include the hiring manager’s name, the biopharma's name, and something to show you’ve done your homework. For example, you might write, “I, too, am looking for a position where I can take my career to the next level, Ms. Smith, and I was impressed by your decades of service with top biopharma XYZ.”

6. Proofread more than once.

Email software spellcheck tools are notorious for missing errors. While they may help you identify the most glaring typographical blunders, they’re of little use when it comes to grammar, punctuation, and formatting. Before you send your email cover letter to any hiring manager, read your subject line and review the body of the email two or even three times. Then, send it to a trusted pair of eyes for a final review.

As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure your email cover letter leaves the best one possible.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends, and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.

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