Do you need to email a resume to apply for a job? If so, you might find yourself confused about the best way to do it. Should you send your cover letter and resume as attachments, or include both in the body of the email?
First things first: always follow the employer’s instructions on how to submit your job materials. The job posting should give you detailed information on how you are expected to apply. You may be asked to upload your resume online or to email your resume. If you’re asked to send your resume via email, you may be advised what format you should use for your resume, what to include in the subject line of the email, and the deadline when the employer needs to receive it.
For example, the employer may request that you upload or email your document(s) in a PDF or a Word document. When you email a resume or cover letter, you will typically be asked to add them to the message as an attachment.
Make sure you follow the employer’s instructions carefully, or your application may not even be considered.
Emailing a Resume to an Employer
Follow the Directions
Again, the first rule of thumb when emailing a resume is to do exactly what the job listing states. If the listing asks you to send your resume in a particular format or asks you to save your resume under a specific name, be sure to do so. Employers are less likely to consider job applications that do not follow submission instructions exactly.
Use a Clear Subject Line
The subject line is the first thing the employer will see when deciding whether or not to open your message. Make sure your subject line clearly states the purpose of the message so that the employer does not mistake it for spam, or otherwise overlook it. The subject line should include the job title and your name and should be edited for spelling errors. For example, it might be:
- Job Title – Your Name
- Administrative Assistant Resume - Your Name
- Communications Director Position - Your Name
Keep It Simple
Whether you paste your resume into the body of the email message or send it as an attachment, keep the font and style simple. Use an easy-to-read font and remove any fancy formatting. Don't use HTML, emoticons, colored fonts, or images. You don't know what email client the employer is using, so simple is best because the employer may not see a formatted message the same way you do.
Attachments vs. Pasting Plain Text
Keep in mind that some employers do not accept attachments. In such cases, paste your resume into your email message as plain text. However, when there are no instructions, the easiest way to send your resume is as an attachment. That will preserve your resume content and format. Your cover letter can either be attached as well or written in the body of an email message.
Choose a Resume File Format
Be sure to read the job listing carefully for any directions on what format the employer would prefer for your resume. If there are no directions, submit the resume as either a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) or as a PDF document. These are the formats most commonly preferred by employers.
If you have saved your resume as a Google Doc or with word processing software other than Microsoft Word, convert your resume to a Word document. You should be able to click “File,” then "Download" and save it as a Word document or PDF.
To save your document as a PDF, depending on your word processing software you may be able to select the menu “File,” then the sub-menu “Save as”—or “Save a Copy”—and save it as a PDF. If not, there are free programs you can use to convert a file to a PDF.
Name Your Attachment
If you attach your resume to your email, remember that your employer can see the name of your document. Include your name in the title so that the employer will know, at a glance, who you are. For example, you could name your resume “Firstname_Lastname_Resume.”
Don’t use a generic name like “Resume” or, even worse, “Resume1” or “Resume 2.” This might make the employer think you don’t care enough about the job to tailor your materials specifically to the position. It also doesn’t help the employer remember who you are.
Include Your Signature
At the bottom of the email message include an email signature with your contact information, so it's easy for the hiring manager to get in touch with you. In your signature, include your name, email address, phone number, and the URL of your LinkedIn profile, if you have one.
Tips for Emailing a Resume
Use a Professional Email Address
Make sure to use a professional email address that includes your name or part of your name. If you don’t have one yet, create a new professional email address with your first and last name, if possible.
Look at Samples
Send a Test Email Message
Before you click “Send,” send yourself a test email message to be sure your application is perfect and good to go:
- Attach your resume, then send the message to yourself first to test that the formatting works.
- Open the attachment so you are sure you attached the right file in the correct format, and that it opens correctly.
- Once everything looks good, send it to the employer. If there are issues, update your materials and send another test message to yourself.
Carefully Edit and Proofread Your Documents
Make sure you use spellcheck and check your grammar and capitalization. Employers expect the same level of professionalism in emails as they do in paper correspondence. Be sure to proofread your subject line, the body of your email, and any attachments.
Many email programs have built-in spellcheckers you can use. Alternatively, write your cover letter message using a word processing program, spell-and-grammar-check it, and paste it into the email message. There are free online proofreading programs, like Grammarly, you can use to check your documents.
No matter how you write it, be sure not to rely solely on spellcheckers, which can miss many grammar and spelling mistakes. Reread your message yourself and consider having a friend look at it as well.
How to Send Your Cover Letter Via Email
When applying for a job via email, you can copy and paste your cover letter into the email message or write your cover letter directly into the body of an email message.
If the job posting doesn't specify how to send it, you can also choose to send your cover letter as an attachment. If you do so, use the same format as your resume (for example, if your resume is a PDF, your cover letter should be too). Also use the same naming convention as you did for your resume, e.g., janedoecoverletter.doc.
Be sure to read the directions on the job application carefully: sometimes companies want all your materials sent as one PDF or Word document, and other times they want separate attachments for each document.
Include an Introduction in Your Email
If you do send both your resume and letter as attachments, include a brief introduction in your email message. In it, state the job you are applying for and note that your resume and cover letter (and any other requested materials) are attached.
Review a Sample Message
Subject: Customer Service Manager Position - Your Name
Dear Hiring Manager,
I am very interested in applying for the Customer Service Manager position that is listed on Monster.com.
I've attached my resume and cover letter. If there's any additional information you need, please let me know.
Thank you very much for your consideration.
ALWAYS FOLLOW THE EMPLOYER’S INSTRUCTIONS: They will likely indicate whether you should email your resume as an attachment or pasted into the body of the email and what file type to use, e.g. a Word document or PDF.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT FILE NAME: The best file names include your name and do not include version numbers, which might make it seem like you’re less invested in this particular job.
LOOK AT SAMPLES BEFORE EMAILING: Note the best format, subject line, and signature for your email. However, be sure to customize your message for every application.
PROOFREAD AND TEST BEFORE SENDING: Make sure your email is professionally formatted and typo-free before you hit “send.”