As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. If you’re doing a job search or resume submission via email, the first impression any employer will have is your cover letter.
1. Don’t waste your subject line. What you write on the subject line can determine whether your letter gets read. “Don’t leave the subject line of your email blank and don’t waste it by just inserting the job number.” An example: “Bilingual CPA seeks account manager position.”
2. Use standard cover letter protocol. Write your letter as the body of the email and include a salutation (use the receiver’s actual name if you know it) and a standard closing (“Sincerely” or "Warm regards” work well). Leave blank lines between paragraphs, and use appropriate signature and closing lines.
3. Keep it short and dynamic. Hook the reader in the first paragraph by selling him or her your abilities. Use short paragraphs and short sentences to give a very brief bio on who you are and what you can do for them, and wrap it up in the second paragraph.
4. Keep it simple. Don’t get cute: save emoticons, abbreviations, wild colors, and fonts for your non-professional emails. The same goes for humor. Chances are, the reader won’t think it’s funny, and may even find it irritating.
5. Keywords are key. Because many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to find and screen candidates, skill-oriented keywords will boost your chance at being discovered. Match your qualifications to the job description!