Email application: should I add my cover letter to the email or send it as an attachment?

Both variants have proven themselves in practice, with some advantages in favor of the variant of sending the cover letter in the attachment. These advantages are presented in the article so that applicants can take advantage of them.

And then what do I write in the email itself? There is practical help with 8 examples. There are also a number of practical and technical tips for sending e-mails.

Advantages of the variant “Sending a cover letter in attachment”

  1. Long emails are clicked away faster without opening the attachment (as proven by studies).
  2. A short e-mail that arouses interest in the application increases the likelihood that the attachment will be opened or read longer or more carefully.
  3. If the e-mail is forwarded within the company, your cover letter would probably slip down in the e-mail and possibly be overlooked (whether this happens depends on the settings of the recipient’s e-mail program, but is usually the case).
  4. The e-mail gives you the opportunity to include additional information about your application that has no place in the cover letter or to highlight interesting and relevant aspects of your CV.
  5. If the application letter and application documents are summarized in an attachment document, the entire application can be printed out with one click.
  6. Cover letter and other self-designed documents are in a uniform layout.

This answers the question asked at the beginning. Here are a few more practical tips:

Further content of the article:

What do I write in the email?

  • Subject line
  • Salutation
  • Email Text – Examples
  • Signature / contact details

Practical tips for sending e-mails

  • Should I summarize the cover letter with the other documents in an attachment or send it as an extra PDF?
  • Formatting of the email
  • Sending via an e-mail program and not via the website / browser
  • Do not request read receipts

Image result for emailing

What do I write in the email?

The subject line

Don’t just write “application”, but the specific position and, if applicable, the position number. For example “Application as a graduate engineer job no. 2015/48”.

The salutation

Is a name / contact person mentioned in the job advertisement? Then the cover letter is addressed to this person and not the general phrase “Dear Sir or Madam”.

Tip: Call and ask who is involved in the application process. Further questions for a call and a guide for making calls can be found here.

If you do not know whether other people are involved in the selection process, you can also choose the following option: 

Dear Sir or Madam,

Dear Mr. Smith,

The email text

Examples – short and factual

Attached to this email you will find my application documents for the position as …
I am at your disposal if you have any questions.
Kind regards

I am very happy to apply for the position … with the number … You will find my application documents in the appendix.
I am at your disposal if you have any questions very happy to help.

I am sending you my application for your position as … The position corresponds exactly to my ideas and is therefore very interesting for me.

I am sending you my application documents. (Then just repeat the first sentence from the cover letter.)

These formulations are perhaps a bit short and can seem impersonal. Therefore it makes sense to add at least one personal sentence:

Example – the best arguments in the first sentence

As a graduate engineer specializing in…. I worked as … for 5 years and successfully ….
For more details, please refer to my application documents in the appendix

Example – connecting to the company

I have been your customer for 5 years and have always wished to work for the company. Now I meet all the requirements for the advertised position and would be very happy to receive an invitation to an interview.

Example – refer to the phone call

Thank you very much again for the friendly / informative phone call / conversation on … which encouraged me to send you my application.

Referring to our phone call on … I am sending you my application for the position as …

Example – combining voluntary and full-time engagement

Let’s take this example of job advertisement analysis and assume that the non-profit company attaches particular importance to employees for whom environmental protection and development aid is a personal concern. It is therefore advisable not only to name professional experience as the most important argument in the short email, but also to mention relevant voluntary work.

I have been working in CMS project management for 4 years, after 6 years of volunteering in development policy. You can find more information in the appendix.

The signature

Is the signature set up, current and complete? Please do not forget the signature in the e-mail or manually add the contact details at the end of the e-mail.

Practical tips for sending e-mails

Should I summarize the cover letter with the other documents in an attachment or send it as an extra PDF?

There may be a note in the job advertisement such as “Please send all documents in one document …”  Otherwise, it has become established to summarize all documents including the application letter in a PDF attachment. This has the advantage for HR managers that they can print out all documents with one click.

Further options:

CV and cover letter in one document and all other documents in a separate attachment or cover letter separately and all other application documents in the second document.

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Formatting of the email

It is best to choose “Text only” or “Text only” as the e-mail format, because HTML formatting (eg font and color settings) are not automatically displayed correctly at the recipient – this depends on the settings in the E -Mail program of the recipient.

Sending via an e-mail program and not via the website / browser

The application is best sent in your own e-mail programs such as Thunderbird or Outlook and not via the website of e-mail providers, because advertising is often sent via these pages the email is attached.

Do not request a read receipt

Read receipts are annoying, so they should be deactivated. Applicants usually receive a confirmation of receipt for their application anyway. Otherwise you can ask after 1-3 weeks.


The variant “Cover letter in the attachment” offers a whole range of advantages over the variant “Cover letter in the email” and can therefore be preferred in order to use the advantages for your own application.

If the cover letter is nevertheless inserted in the e-mail, attention should be paid to the formatting, the type of dispatch (e-mail program instead of browser / website of the e-mail service provider), the signature and a cover letter that is as short as possible ( possibly supplemented by a letter of motivation in the application documents in the appendix).


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