How to Make Your Email Job Application Stand Out

jennifer Bjorkman | November-19-10


Email Job Application


By Lisa Wray, Talent Egg


Thanks to the job application process moving almost 100% online in recent years, employers are now receiving more resumes than ever before.

It may seem more convenient and simple, but with the variety of templates, software, plain text vs. HTML, hard copy vs. electronic, and competition in today’s job market, it’s tough to stand out.

Doug Wallace, a former editor of Wish and FASHION magazines, and Heather White, a human resources professional from the corporate sector, receive numerous email applications daily and shared with me how job hunters like you can make your application stand out.


1. The perfect one-liner
“The shorter the better. Quirky doesn’t work and funny can come off as dumb. Employers like specifics.” –Doug

The subject of your email is what will make it stand out from the junk. No email address is safe from junk mail. To protect your well-crafted letter from becoming garbage, the subject line should be brief and to the point. Include simple keywords such as “resume,” the title of the position you are applying for, and a file/job number, if applicable.

Example: Resume for assistant editor role. File #193.


2. It’s not about your personality
“The first paragraph (of your email) should be generic and to the point. The second paragraph should grab me, which comes down to word choice and how mature and professional it sounds.” –Heather

Fill this space with facts that will interest your reader (you want them to like you, don’t you?). The first sentence should be direct, reiterating what was stated in the subject line.

Include the name of any contacts you know at the company, such as the name of the person who recommended you apply for the job, as well as a brief sentence stating what you have attached to the email.

Avoid long-winded introductions; the purpose of this first contact is to lead the reader to your resumé, so don’t feel the need to reveal too much.


3. Refrain from adding too much baggage: economize your space
“Make it pretty and use colour.  People are afraid to use colour. You don’t need one, but a light purple or magenta makes it stick out, especially for creative jobs.” –Doug

If you want to include a cover letter with your resumé, it’s better if you add it on the page before your resume starts instead of attaching it in a separate file.  Multiple attachments can get lost or separated when the original recipient forwards your resumé to other staff.

When attaching your resumé, make sure to follow the instructions listed in the job description.

If you’re applying to a nonspecific human resource address, they will usually stipulate what format to send your resumé in.

However, if you’re not sure, use a word document or PDF file.

Don’t forget to change the file name to your own name from Resume.doc or something equally ambiguous. If your resumé gets saved in a database, employers can easily find it.

Example: JohnSmithResume.doc


4. “I” before “e” except after “c”
“Spelling and grammatical errors bother me, but it doesn’t mean they’re out of the running; however, it creates a red flag.” –Heather

Some employers will give you slack, blaming nerves for any spelling or grammatical errors. However, this doesn’t give you an excuse to be lazy.  Revise, revise, revise, and then send it to a friend to revise.


5. Next generation: the electronic resumé
“Brilliant, absolutely the way to go if you have the time, money, and someone who knows how to do it.” –Doug

Digital, multimedia resumés are a great way to add information that can’t fit in your traditional resumé.  Add the link at the bottom of your resumé (but before references, if included) with a brief, one sentence description of what is in the link.

Use your judgment. When applying through human resources, it may not be the best idea to go digital as it could possibly be viewed as a time-consuming burden.  If applying to a direct contact, a multimedia resumé could help distinguish your resumé from other applicants.


Final words
Heather on the horrible: “One person sent me 30 resumés for every and any job we had posted. I stopped looking at her applications because I want someone who is looking for a specific job that they are willing to fight for.”

Doug on the memorable: “I remember a completely over-the-top resumé that was designed like a magazine. Her photo was on the cover and the cover-lines highlighted her attributes. She also included a table of contents; it was like a mini-colour copy of her portfolio. It was so weird that I just had to meet this person.”


Originally published on Talent Egg, on November 24, 2009


Looking for more great tips on finding your environmental career? Check out ECO Canada's Key's to Success for information on interviews, portfolio building, and networking events.