November 18, 2011

Cover Letters: Send as attachment or email body?

During lunch the other day at work, we started talking about job application cover letters and whether or not it was more acceptable to send them as attachments or to have the body of your email serve as your cover letter. The results of the discussion were inconclusive. Some people prefer attachments because it's easier to print out and pass on to other members of the company, while others like the simplicity of not having to open that extra document. So... which should you do?

Sometimes potential employers will make the decision easy for you by specifying that they would like to receive your cover letter attached to the email. If this is directly stated in the description for the job application, definitely do it! Not doing so may mean a failing mark in a test of paying attention to details. Additionally, if a preferred document type is mentioned, be sure to follow that as well. If no document type is specified, I send your cover letter as a PDF, which can easily be opened without the employer needing to have special software (even if it's commonly owned software. Be careful of making assumptions!)

If the employer does not specify whether or not they would like the cover letter to be attached then your safest bet is probably just to attach it anyway. Keep the body of your email brief and use it to give yourself a quick introduction and include the purpose for why you're sending the email. Yes, this probably means there will be redundancies between the email and the cover letter but not everyone who sees your cover letter will have read your email.

Katie Hazard | Digital Artist, User Experience Designer | @katie_hazard
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