email cover letter

Cover Letters: Attachment or E-Note?

© suzannmeer -
© suzannmeer –

While a cover letter used to be the top page of the printed package you would submit to potential employers, today you’re most likely to be sending it electronically.

An e-note is where you take the text of your cover letter and paste it directly into the body of an email. The other option is to attach your cover letter as a Microsoft Word document. Word documents are recommended over PDFs because some applicant tracking software (ATS) systems cannot read PDFs.

E-notes show that you’re up-to-date and comfortable with technology, and are quicker and easier to read on a mobile device. This is important, because more and more people are relying on these tools. In fact, recent data from Pew Research shows that of the top 50 news websites, 39 have more traffic to their sites from mobile devices than from desktop computers.

An e-note is shorter than a traditional cover letter, between a third of a page to a half-page. That means your writing must be clear and concise. For more suggestions on how to write an effective e-note, see: The Difference Between an E-Note and a Cover Letter.

You do not send both an e-note and a cover letter, rather choose one option and go with that. Remember that if the job description clearly requests a cover letter, then stick with the traditional MS Word format as an attachment.

Also use the attachment format if you know in advance that you will be interviewed by a committee or panel. That way all of your documents can be easily printed and shared with everybody who will be involved in the interview process.

Whichever format you use for your cover letter, make sure that you’re not repeating verbatim from your resume. Re-word the text of your STAR story or your top assets.

At the end of every professional email, incorporate an email signature with your phone number and your customized LinkedIn profile URL (web address).

You could also include your Twitter handle, your profile page on static social media websites like or, and your blog if you have one.

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