Let’s talk about cover letters. That traditional, one page spiel where you outline your worth to a prospective employer in the hope that you will be invited to interview with them. Aah, did I just hear someone in the audience shout e-note? Oh yes, the e-note. That shortened version of a cover letter that we use when we don’t need to submit a cover letter. Hmm, that didn’t sound confusing at all!

Perplexity is what some of you experience when applying for a job these days for you may want to submit a cover letter with your application, however the process does not require you tender one. It can be a little frustrating, maybe even stressful, because your cover letter provides such a great insight into your value as an employee. And to omit this aspect of your job application is to severely cripple your likelihood of gaining an interview, hence the position, right? No doubt a pulse rising moment. Yet fear not, no matter what the process you will be given the opportunity to add some text to your application, it just won’t be in the form of a traditional letter. And this my friends is what we in the industry like to refer to as the e-note.

The e-note is that third to a half page pitch where you capture the essence of your career successes and embed it in an email. Or a cold calling message on LinkedIn. Or within an online application that only allows for plain text response. You know what I am referring to. With technology broadening the methods through which we sell our wares, we don’t always have the opportunity to include our cover letter with our application. Streamlining seems to be the buzz when it comes to recruitment and your e-note needs to follow suit. With so many recruiting managers now ‘scanning’ applications, it is ever so important to not only engage in a little brevity, but to get straight to the punchline.

Emailed applications enable the opportunity to set the scene with a specific and compelling subject line. Experienced Senior Account Manager of Multimillion Dollar Projects. Before the recipient has even opened their email, their interest is piqued. The next step is a short one-two sentence opening. The body should contain value added information in the format of a short paragraph or two, or bullet points. Budget Management: I achieved an additional 17.5 percent savings to that budgeted for the last project I managed which is indicative of my five year track record as a senior account manager. Precise, no waffle, and attention grabbing. Close the communication with a concluding statement and a call to action – My ability to lead people and champion change across the business have been the pillars of my success. A more indepth discussion of my application is welcomed yet should I not hear from you within a week, I will contact you. And be sure your signature block features your contact details, including a link to your LinkedIn profile. Clever, right?

You may be very comfortable with the traditional cover letter, but you also need to be comfortable submitting an e-note. In fact, most organisations accept your e-note as your cover letter. So don’t discount its value. You may actually find yourself in the situation where it is appropriate to attach your traditional cover letter to an email. In this instance, keep your email message very brief. A few sentences at most. Don’t embark on a narrative and attach a cover letter that reiterates the details contained within the email itself. Decide on one or the other, not both. Regardless, you must communicate clearly your unique promise of value and emphasise your strongest selling points as they relate to the role. Your resume and references will support and strengthen your statements.

Remaining flexible in your job search strategies is key. Having all the tools in place, ready to respond, will result in the most effect proposal. You may not get your pitch perfectly right in the first instance, so practice and customise your e-note until you have the structure that best reflects your assets. Needless to say that in this age of technical evolution, you must be able to adapt if you want to succeed.

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