In today’s tough economic climate, applying for jobs is harder than it has been for years. With the number of unemployed at a record high, standing out from the crowd when it comes to applying for a job is a tricky task – particularly if you’re doing so by email. Rechenda Smith has some advice on how to make your application stand out.
You’d be surprised at just how many people send out generic emails to employer after employer, attaching the same CV and the same covering letter. All they change is the name of the company they are applying for – and they wonder why they never get asked for an interview!
With that in mind, here’s five top tips of how to apply for a job via email courtesy of email marketing company little green plane. With a bit of work you really can stand out from the crowd and get back into the working world.
1. Read their instructions!
The most important part of applying for a job via email is to stand out. Employers will be flooded with email applications, so you want to stand out from the crowd. As such, one of the best ways of avoiding being one of these spam email applicants is to actually read all of the company’s application requirements and follow them.
They may want you to email a specific person or require specific skills or competencies. Whoever it is you are applying for, you can’t rely on a generic CV or covering letter. You must tailor it for the position – it may take an hour or so, but if it communicates your suitability for the role it not only shows you’re keen on the position it shows you take the position seriously.
Also, whenever you apply for a job via email, you’ll often have to attach a cover letter and CV. Whoever opens your email at the business you are interested in will have to open it / save it on their computer. With that in mind, the file name is incredibly important. With that in mind you need to stand out, so name your CV – for example john-smith-cv.doc or john-smith-cover-letter.doc.
2. The personal greeting
Now you’re ready to start composing your email, you need to make it as personal as it can be. Targeted emails will be opened – so start off with an attractive subject line. For example, if you are emailing Big Bank Limited – a subject line of “Accountant with 10 years’ experience for Big Bank Limited” works so much better than “Application for accountant role”. However, make sure it’s not too long. Long subject lines risk falling into the spam filters.
Once you’ve done your subject line, you should greet the recipient by their name – simply because email is a very cold form of communication. Dear sir or madam is unnattractive – so use “Dear Mr Smith” instead. Then it’s a case of tailoring an email which builds up a rapport or a relationship. Mention how you heard about the job in the first line, express your interest, outline a couple of your main skills and refer them to your enclosed CV and cover letter.
End your email with a personal sign-off, such as “I look forward to hearing from you. Kindest regards…” And don’t forget, your signature should contain your contact information such as your phone number – just in case they want to contact you quickly.
3. Your cover letter
After your personal email, your attached cover letter should be concise and to the point – so don’t go over than 1 page of A4. Your cover letter needs to answer the main question of “why should I ask them for an interview?”. The best way to do this is to demonstrate your knowledge of the company and just how you are the perfect fit. Highlight your skills and just how they relate to the available position. Don’t copy and paste from your CV, this letter should be unique and targeted for the position you are applying for.
4. Your CV
Whatever you do, do not keep the same CV and use this to apply for every role that you’re interested in. Think of your CV as the tool to sell you as a person. You need to focus on your skills and tailor it to the position itself – so use as many keywords as possible. After your personal contact details, highlight yourself as a person and tailor it to the role. For example you could say “Highly ambitious communications professional looking for a role in a forward-thinking company” – or whatever it is that they do.
Then mention your educational achievements – but don’t use fancy formatting or tables. Next up is your work experience – state your positions, dates and key responsibilities. Your next step is to write three or four paragraphs out which highlight your suitability for the role. Remember to use keywords! For example “For the past three years I have been XXXX at XXXX. In this role I managed a team of three people and demonstrated exceptional project management skills..”
Whatever you do, make sure your CV is no longer than 2 pages of A4. Sign off your CV with a brief blurb about your personal experience and your contact details.
5. Proof read and check!
Before you click the send button, make sure you check your email for grammar and spelling mistakes. There’s nothing worse than sending out an email and realising afterwards you’ve made a glaring error – it smacks of unprofessionalism, so look over the email several times and check for clarity and errors. It could be worth emailing it to a friend or family member first to get a second opinion.
Then look at your attachments. Have you attached both files correctly? You don’t want to have to send another embarrassing email apologising! Finally, before you send your email, you should keep a copy for your records. You can do this by adding yourself to the bcc (blind carbon copy) – you’ll be sent the email too.
To sum up…
There you have it, five simple tips for sending the perfect job application email. It’s important to remember that you’ll be one of many emails which land in their inbox – so don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from them for a couple of weeks. With that in mind, make a note to send a brief reminder e-mail if you don’t hear from them after this time. Unfortunately, you are just a name and an email address – they may be more receptive once things calm down. Good luck in your job hunt!
*Rechenda Smith is Head of Email Marketing at little green plane [www.littlegreenplane.com]. For more information on the email services little green plane provides, please see the website.