Applying via email and online

Learn from these tips for applying via email and online


If you are given the choice of applying through traditional mail or email, use email. Applying via email is less expensive and gets your application to the employer more quickly (and in a format that is easier for them to process). When applying via email here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Unless the job announcement gives you other instructions, make the body of your email your cover letter and attach your resume to the email.
  • Use the subject line of your email to let the employer know why you are writing. If a job reference number or pertinent phrase is given use it. Examples:
    • Application for position number _______ (where the job announcement cites a specific position number)
    • Application for Research Technologist position
  • Use an e-mail address that makes a positive first impression. Your school email is best for students/internship applicants. Graduating seniors or alums should establish a personal email address that sounds professional. Consider something like your first name and last name with a number added to the end.
  • Keep the format simple: no background designs or colors, no unusual fonts.
  • Do not use abbreviations, IM shorthand or emoticons (those smiley faces) in your emails. This is professional correspondence, not an email to your friends or family.
  • Use spell check and proofread carefully before hitting the "Send" button.
  • Be concise – the employer should be able to see your entire cover letter without scrolling.
  • Use an appropriate closing (like "Sincerely"), skip a line, then type your first and last name. You could also include your mailing address and phone number just below this information at the end of your email.
  • Keep a printed copy of all your letters of application, including those that you email.

Here are a few other tips for email communication with employers.

  • Keep the tone of all emails with potential employers formal and professional.
  • When replying to employer emails, leave the e-mail reply thread intact – this allows employers to recall what was mentioned in earlier correspondence. 
  • Address all questions and inquiries posed by the employer – this ensures accurate understanding and less time spent responding to numerous emails. 
  • Answer emails in a timely manner – if you wait too long, employers may think you are no longer interested. 

Online Through an Employer or Job Search Website

Some employer and job search websites will require you to submit a cover letter online. Others may give you the option, but not require it. Even if a letter is not required, it is a good idea to submit one with your application. On some websites, you upload a file containing your cover letter (often in Word, .pdf or text format). On other websites, you will be given a text box into which you copy and paste your cover letter. Write, edit and spell check your cover letter in a word processor and then copy and paste it into the text box. Use a format that aligns your information along the left margin to allow for a better format in the text box.

Even if a website does not give you a place to upload or copy and paste a cover letter, you might consider adding a cover letter as a part of your resume. This would allow you to specifically discuss your qualifications for the position and why you are interested in working for that organization. To do so, simply append the cover letter by copying and pasting it to the beginning or end of your resume.