As the world has evolved from traditional mail sent by postal service to email sent through the internet, so has the cover letter. It was quite common to send a cover letter and resume to prospective employers and/or recruiters 20 years ago. However, now it is more accepted to send these types of documents and communications through email or online resources such as websites and job boards.

So what is happening to the cover letter that introduces the resume? At this point in time, we know that cover letters are read 50% of the time, so it is highly important to make sure your message is clear, concise and attention grabbing. Whether using a cover letter or an e-note, you need a way to communicate a few things that are not covered in the resume and need to be brought to the attention of the reader.

An e-note is like a brief note that can be used in conjunction with a cover letter as a way to reach back for either the first contact (before cover letter) or follow up (after cover letter) It focuses on a few key points to capture the reader’s attention in a few seconds. A few tips:

1.    Use an attention grabbing subject line. Make a statement that will entice the reader to continue reading. Simply stating “resume attached” doesn’t give the recipient a reason to read the e-note. Title of the job and a few keywords are better subject lines. Be creative.

2.    Use your network. If you know someone who has a connection to the recipient, then by all means mention them. “John Jones recommended I contact you…..” It does peak the reader’s interest when there is a mutual connection.

3.    Match top 3 talents to job requirements. Make it easy for the recruiter or hiring agent to see how well you match their criteria. Example: They are looking for 5 years’ experience in manufacturing and you have 7, etc.

4.    Paint a picture with your words. Nothing flowery or overly verbose, just eye-catching phrasing to keep their interest.

5.    Keep it short! So many career documents are being read by mobile devices today that you want to capture the reader’s attention at a glance. A long message may not get read and your resume could be passed up.

Another way to use e-notes is when reaching out to recruiters and network contacts. You will be asking for their assistance in some way to help you during your job search. Give them a couple of clearly-defined options as ways to respond to you.

Option 1: I would appreciate any insights you can offer regarding XX.

Option 2: I recall you have connections in XX industry. Could you share your insights and/or offer help with any referrals.

Be sure to reiterate your expertise to help them recall your strengths and value to an organization. End the e-note with an action item – that you will be following up on XX or would appreciate hearing back from them by XX.

You need to be more persuasive when marketing yourself in an e-note. Use short bulleted statements. Keep your message under 300 words.  E-notes do follow a similar pattern to a cover letter and are an excellent alternative job search tool that is easy to read and very acceptable when conducting a digital job search.