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Applying by e-mail: Don’t fail through basic errors

When it comes to online job applications, recruiters tell us that many candidates make the same basic mistakes: Too much information, poor formatting or carelessly composed information are just some of the issues recruiters complain about. StepStone suggests this checklist for your next application.

Which elements does an online application need?
Email applications are usually shorter than the classic application by letter. Most important are a good covering letter and your CV.

The word "application" in the subject line of an email is neither creative nor very helpful. It's better to give the title of the position (always give a reference number if you have one!) you are applying for.

Your e-mail address
Send your application using your own e-mail address, but avoid strange sounding addresses like Check your mailbox at least on at least a daily basis!

Make sure your application reaches the right person in the company. Use only the e-mail address given in the job ad. If you send an unsolicited application, look for the proper contact person and his e-mail address on the website of the company. What you should avoid are e-mail addresses like info@….at or contact@….at, which usually go to marketing departments. If necessary call the company and ask for a proper HR contact person. Many recruiters do not send confirmations. If you are curious about the status of your application, it's best to ask by phone.

Covering letter

Your online application replaces the postal application. Therefore it is crucial to write it as carefully as you would write a classic application letter. The covering letter often contains many errors. Pay attention to typing errors, avoid abbreviations and use a business-like format. Use an appropriate salutation, even though the tone of conversation in e-mails is usually rather informal. Put the covering letter directly into the e-mail instead of attaching it.

The attachment to your e-mail must not be longer than 2MB. Choose only those documents, which are crucial for the application process. You can send more documents if asked. Name the attachments in a user-friendly way: Titles like "attachment No1" and "attachment No2" are not very helpful. Also pay attention to the quality of your scans. The most common format is PDF. Word and excel files can lose their formats or can contain a virus. HTML, BMP, EPS or zip compressed data cannot be opened in some cases and may be blocked by firewalls. Also: never send self-opening .exe files - these are always blocked.

Always have this in mind: A recruiter has 2-4 minutes time to look through an application on average. Therefore your application must be as user-friendly as possible

© StepStone 2010

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