Writing cover letters in the age of e-mail

Don’t hit “send” before getting some feedback.

The cover e-mail — rather than cover letter — inspires fierce disagreements between career experts.
Depending on the field, striking the right tone can be a philosophical quandary. How formal should this piece of writing be? Should the tone be closer to the cover letters of yore — or is a friendlier, casual spirit inherent to online communication?

Pamela Skillings teaches a writing workshop for the American Management Association: “Seven Critical Web Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.” She founded Skillful Communications in 2005, a New York-based company specializing in job interview coaching.

How can applicants use the subject line to their advantage?

It’s an opportunity to cut through the clutter. Inserting a key word from the job description is a good strategy. You can also separate yourself from the crowd by inserting a targeted phrase about your skills.

Is there a way to make your e-mail more visually appealing?

Yes. Don’t write big block paragraphs. People can’t read big blocks of text on their screen. Use white space. Each idea should have its own paragraph.

When replying to Craigslist, Monster and other sites, how do you know if your e-mails are effective?

It’s really difficult to judge that based on responses from employers. When it comes to sites like that, employers are getting so many responses. It may not be a reflection of your writing style. More likely, it’s a reflection of the deluge they’re receiving. The better way to know if your writing is effective is to get some feedback from someone you know and respect. A question to ask is, “if you didn’t know me, and you received this, what would you think?” Most people don’t even proofread, let alone ask for feedback, so that can make your e-mail stand out.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…