The Difference Between a Cover Letter and the Email You Send With Your Application

Getting it right really matters when it comes to making a career adjustment. You need to get the correct keywords, the correct messaging, the correct formatting.

For your cover letter and follow-up correspondence, you must find the best people to endear yourself to and the right words.

And for the love of all you’ve got to get the solution nailed.

But, my oh my, there are so many variables, so many things that we all think about when applying for a job.

Will you make or separately append the cover letter to the body of the email? (Or both?) Do you first name the guy, or do you go with Mr. / Ms. So-and-So? (And for both, does the same rule apply?)

How informal or formal do you have to be? For cover letters and addresses, is there a right or wrong format? Will it need to be a page or less for the cover letter? How long should the email be for the intro?

It is enough for Holy Hannah to make the coolest cucumbers among us begin to feel like mad people. And that’s even before an introduction was made.

Deep breaths, all of them. Breathing profoundly. Let’s break down into manageable chunks this cover letter stuff. Here’s what you need to be conscious of:

Should the Cover Letter Be an Attachment or Just the Body of Email?

The short answer is the following: either. Not both either, either.

You’re probably going to get five who say attachment and five who say email if you ask 10 recruiters of hiring managers whom they favor.

But here’s the good news: almost everyone will report that either way, it’s not going to make or break you. So don’t allow yourself to unravel this issue.

I happen to be a supporter of “cover letter as email body,” and this is why: it gives you the chance to make a strong, unforgettable first impression of the millisecond that the eyes of the reviewer open their inbox.

With an amazing opening line, you can bring others in and then demonstrate the ways in which you will contribute to the team.

Instead you can be brief and direct the reader to the attachments if you plan to go with the cover letter as an attachment.

I’ve heard that you are looking for a senior project manager with Jira’s expertise and knowledge in e-commerce. Yeah, that’s me. My attached resume and cover letter describe my job qualifications.

If you go on this path, keep it short. Those on the receiving end would not like having to plow through all your attachments and a super long email.

Difference Between a Cover Letter and the Email You Send With Your Application

Finally, in both the email and the attachment, don’t even worry about replicating the cover letter. That’s stupid, just ridiculous (and, makes you look totally indecisive).

Now that we have worked that out, let’s answer the other questions that you’re likely to eat:

Do I Use a First Name Salutation—or a More Formal One?

“For both the cover letter and the accompanying email, this is best answered with It depends. It is best to determine the tone and style of the organization you are seeking to join, in all seriousness, and then guess which salutation will be the most fitting and appreciated.

By reviewing the website and social media activity of the company, you can do this pretty easily. Note, if (and only if) you are a “yes” to these three issues, you will be hired for the next job.

Do we think this job can be completed by her?
Does she like us?

We think she’s going to blend in here around here?
That said, you’re in business if you can present yourself in a way that means right out of the gates that you’re a triple yes.

Is a Conversational Style Allowed?

In general I think that job seekers get a little too upset about “proper” and end up losing sight of the fact that at the receiving end of this there is an actual individual (assuming you are directly emailing your application).

Just guess what? People enjoy immersive, conversational reading. When an applicant seems sincere, personable, and interesting, they note.

When plowing through their pile of candidates, they appreciate that it doesn’t sound like utter drudgery.

That being the case, unless you apply for a job within an extremely conservative or organized industry or organisation, a conversational style is permitted, heck yeah.

This is definitely not your time to break out a bunch of language that could offend slang or (gasp), but it’s a-ok to make your cover letter or intro email read like you’re a real person.

Just be sure to make it clear, in both situations, why you want to work for that business and what you will step through their doors and deliver, specifically.

Is the One Page Rule for Cover Letters Still True? What About in an Email?

In general, hard and fast rules” make me nuts, so I’m not going to announce the exact length your cover letter or intro email needs to be.

I’m just going to suggest you get in, endear yourself to the receiver easily, and then spell out, precisely, how and why you make perfect sense of the role you’re playing. And wrap it up then.

If you can totally pull it off with a one-page cover letter, you can. Do you need one and a half pages? Knock yourself out as long as you’re peeling out any and every needless blabber.

Get to the point again with the email, and don’t be redundant if you’re adding a cover letter as well.

You can for real, get these stuff right.

Nail the big stuff, sweat the specifics that really matter, and get right into making your grand entrance business, well, one that’s great.