Imagine you’re a hiring manager looking to fill a new opening on your team. You’ve put up a posting on all the major Hollywood job boards and asked candidates to send their application materials to a dedicated email address. The postings go live, you open your inbox, and within 2 hours you’ve got hundreds of submissions. Overwhelming, but exciting.
You open the first application. It’s a totally blank email with a resume attached. Is this attachment spam from a spider that got a hold of your now very public email address? Even if it’s real, if this person can’t be bothered to compose a simple email like a normal professional when their own career is on the line, are they really right for your team? Maybe if you didn’t have 199 other emails to open, but you do. Next.
The next email just says, “Resume attached.” That’s better, you suppose. It’s not spam. But it’s not a shining endorsement of the candidate’s communication skills. You decide to see what awaits you in the other 198 applications.
You open the next email, and you see a short message. A greeting, followed by 3 sentences explaining who the candidate is and why they’re interested in the role. It’s pleasant and friendly in tone, there are no typos, and their story makes sense. You open the resume, and it looks good. You can only interview about 10 people for the role, so you reset the bar. Surely, you can find 10 qualified people in that stack of 200 who took the extra 5 minutes to compose a professional note.
Back to reality. When you’re applying for jobs, you want to stand out from the competition, and one of the ways to do that is to convey your professionalism, dedication, interest, and conscientiousness throughout the hiring process. A cover email is important because it does just that, and it takes very little time on your end! We’re not talking about a full, three-paragraph cover letter. You might need one of those, too, if the job posting requires it. That does not absolve you from the need for a cover email that’s a short-but-sweet introduction of yourself and indication of your interest. The next time you apply for a job over email, don’t forget this important step!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan