How to make a strong application – Part 5: Applying by email

In our series “How to make a strong application”, you will find lots of information about applying for jobs and selecting the right job. Topics range from the question of “What do I really want do?”, to qualities of the perfect job application photograph and aspects of job interviews.


In order to reduce time and costs, more and more companies prefer to receive job applications via email rather than by classic mail. This not only has benefits for personnel staff, but also for you: you do not need to spend money on expensive application portfolios and postage. When applying by email, you need to pay attention to a few particularities.

Email signature block

Set up a signature block for your email. This must include your full name, your address and your telephone number.


Specifying the subject is particularly important in an email application because it is the very first thing that your potential employer will see about you. In any event, you need to write “application” here. If you are applying for a specific job, you should include the job title and possibly the code number of the job advertisement. Be as specific and concise as possible. For example, “application as chief secretary” and not “my application for the job as chief secretary in your company”. Your name can also be included in the subject line. This makes it easier for the HR department to assign your application.

Cover Letter

There are two options. The cover letter can be a direct part of the email itself, which means that the personnel does not have to open an attachment to get to the relevant information. Or, you include your cover letter in the application PDF attachment (see attachment). If you chose the second variation, you still need to write a short text in your email. It could look, for example, like this:

Dear Mr/Ms XYZ

Please find enclosed my application for your advertised position as chef. The attached application portfolio highlights my qualifications to meet the demands of the job as well as the many benefits I can offer your company through my many years of experience at renowned restaurants in Germany and abroad.

I look forward to having a personal job interview.


Even though it is an email, you still need to adhere to the formalities of a job application: salutation, greeting phrase, name, signature etc. are just as obligatory as polite and professional forms of expression. The special symbols “€” or “%” are written out as “Euro” and “percent”. Phrasing, spelling and grammar are just as important as in a written application sent with classic mail. You should avoid using the subjunctive and filler words.


Credentials, certificates of additional qualifications and attestations should be neatly scanned and merged into a PDF file. Select documents wisely and in terms of suitability for the job vacancy involved. Too many (inappropriate) documents only make the work more difficult for personnel.

Important: the entire email, including attachments, must not exceed a total size of 5MB! If the mail is too big, it may not get through the company’s firewall or may end up in the spam folder of the HR manager. ZIP files are also problematic because not everyone can unzip them.

Also make sure that the PDF file has a meaningful and unique name so that the receiver immediately knows what is in the attachment. For example: “Application position your name.pdf.”

You should send only one attachment with your application. This makes it easier for personnel to manage your application and archive your documents. Consequently, you must first merge all the files into one PDF. To do this, there are a number of free tools available on internet such as PDF24.

However, in every PDF there is also metadata. This includes, for example, the date when the file was created and who actually created the file. If you are not the author of the file or the date the file was created is a while back, it can be embarrassing. Either you create your attachment anew for each application, or you edit the metadata, for example, with the free tool BeCyPDFMetaEdit.

Important checks

An email application also requires that you sign the cover letter. If you put it in the PDF attachment, it definitely needs to have a scanned signature. If your cover letter is in the email itself, you should type your name as well – the email signature block is not enough.

Check to make sure that data is consistent: your contact details in your email signature block and your PDF must be the same, as well as the job title in the email and your cover letter.


Checklist: What do I need to consider when sending an email?

  • Check your email address. It must be serious and should not include a nickname.
  • Address the contact person in a personal manner
  • Make your subject line clear and concise, clarifying what the email is about.
  • It is ideal if you can refer to the job advertisement or even a telephone call in the email.
  • In the email, explain what the addressee will find in the attachment (application, portfolio…).
  • Avoid HTML formatting (bold/cursive/underlined text, bullet point lists, tables etc.). Depending on the email client, these can lead to display problems.
  • Unless otherwise requested by the company, all attachments should be in one PDF file. Pay attention to the file name!
  • “Sent from my iphone” is unfavourable. Instead, use a complete current email signature block.
  • Final check: Do not send without attachment!
  • Send each email separately and individually. Serial emails are an absolute no-go!
  • Acknowledgement of receipt: Better to do without this. Instead, call by phone a week later and ask if the email has arrived.


In the next part of our series you will learn how to prepare for a job interview and what to pay attention to.

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