Woman typing on an a Macbook that displays a "Simplicity" website

Simplicity is the key to a great online job application. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

When you graduated, a career councillor may have advised you to send a cover letter along with your resume.

That’s good advice if you plan to snailmail your resume directly to an employer. But when you apply online, do you really need a cover letter?

No, because a busy recruiter will probably just click on your resume attachment and skip your cover letter.

Your best strategy get recruiters and hiring managers to notice you is to write a job application email that quickly shows the job you’re looking for and what you bring to employers.

How to get a recruiter’s attention

The secret is to be crystal clear about the job you want and your most impressive qualifications.

Don’t include filler about how likeable and trustworthy you are because anyone can say that. Just cut to the chase and give them what they need to know.

Recruiters are in a race, skimming resumes and looking for the needle in the haystack. So the chances that they will take the time to read your cover letter are pretty slim.

Respect their time by introducing yourself in the most elegant and simple way that allows recruiters and hiring managers to see what you have to offer, at a glance!

What to put in your online application email

  1. Put the job title in the email subject line
  2. Briefly list 6-10 points that show your most impressive skills, experience and accomplishments related to that job you want in the body of your application email.
  3. Attach your resume
  4. Put your LinkedIn profile in your signature (or another social media profile)

Bonus points if you include a link to your website, Github profile or online portfolio.

Explain why you’re a good match for this specific job

In the body of your email, list 6 – 10 bullet points about skills and experience you have that are specifically related to the job title in the subject line.

If you’re not sure what to write, the Tell Me About Yourself Checklist will help you figure it out.

Tell Me About Yourself Checklist

Some points you might include in the body your application email:

  • I am currently working at ___________ doing ____________
  • I worked on ___________ in _________for ____ months at _____________
  • Number of years or months of hands-on experience in your area of expertise and with the required technologies
  • Experience and training that shows your knowledge of the latest technology in the industry or field
  • Evidence of your passion to learn and to increase your skills
  • Measurable accomplishments and improvements you’ve contributed to projects you’ve been involved with. For example, “I increased ___________ by ___________ which lead to (successful outcome).” Or “I met and exceeded (these objectives) for _____ months in a row.”
  • A link to your website, e-resume portfolio or online examples of your work
  • Awards or special recognition you’ve received for your work

In a nutshell

It’s not necessary to include a formal cover letter when applying to technical jobs.

If you’re applying to an online job post by email or through an application form, just reference the job you’re applying the in the subject line. Then summarize your key qualifications for that specific role in the body of your application email, and attach your resume.

What Do You think?

Are formal cover letters a thing of the past, or are they still an essential part of your professional profile?

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