Whether it’s an application for a full time position, internship or scholarship, certain things ought to be in place if one is to be successful. Though several companies now use online portals on their sites to take in applications, the more conventional mode for application is via “email”. Here are some “Dos and Don’ts” to have at heart while drafting a mail applying for that next opportunity.

Always use a Subject. To come off as professional, it is advisable to always use a subject in the appropriate field provided in your email. It also helps recruiters easily locate your application. Keep it simple, fresh and straight to the point. E.g. “APPLICATION FOR THE ABC INC. 2019 SUMMER INTERNSHIP“. In fact, some application openings will stipulate a subject to be used.

Make use of the CC/BCC feature to copy a person(s) who might help improve your chances. Ever used the BCC feature on your mail? Ever wondered the full meaning of CC? Well, CC means “Carbon Copy”, which helps to send a copy of the mail to some other person(s) instead of having to send separate mails. Blind Carbon Copy has the same feature, only that the email addresses of the recipients specified in this field will not be revealed to those entered into the “To” or “CC” fields. In clearer terms, those not specified in the “To” and “CC” field will not be able to see that a copy was sent to those in the BCC field.

In essence, apart from the general company inquiry or career mail, copying other persons from your target company (HR personnel, etc.) could offer you an edge in your application.

Preferably attach your CV/cover or motivational letter to the mail. Rather than just copy the contents of your CV or cover letter to the body of your mail, it’s more elegant to attach them, especially in PDF formats. Also, title your CV and cover letter after your name and file description; e.g. “John Doe CV”. This allows for easy accessibility.

The body of your mail should be simple and straight to the point. The body of your application mail should ordinarily contain salutations, a personal introduction as well as the reason you are writing. Since you already have your CV and cover letter attached to the mail, you don’t need to repeat their contents in body of the mail. However, you can highlight one or two of your most relevant achievements, which could in turn captivate the recruiter.

Follow the application instructions and stipulations. Some opportunity openings have certain application modalities. It is important that those modalities and requirements and followed to the letter. In some instances, one may be asked to use a particular subject line or even title their CV & cover letter in a particular format.

Sending follow up mails. Recruiters receive tons of applications for everyday and sometimes might unintentionally omit some. In the event you don’t receive a feedback on your application (especially for 7 working days), it is advisable to send a follow up mail, politely referring to your prior application and your expectations in receiving an update on your application status. Although, for some opportunities, the date for feedback might be stipulated.


The above highlighted tips are simple reasons why some people miss out on opportunities, not necessarily because they unqualified, but they omit or are oblivious of key ingredients which makes for a good application. Stay tuned for more in this series…


Tayo Fabusiwa,

Founder, Legal Pages, Africa.