Writing A First Contact Dating Email Is Like Writing a Cover Letter

Are you at a loss when it comes to what to write in that crucial first contact email?

Where do you start?

What do you say?

How do you end it?

At some point, we’ve all written a cover letter for a job.   There are tons of articles online that teach you the Do’s and Don’ts of cover letter writing.  Let’s take a look at some advice from CareerBuilder and apply it to our quest for love!

10 Common Cover Letter
(and First Contact Email)
Mistakes to Avoid

Original article at CareerBuilder.com

Mistake 1: Failing to personalize.

If you don’t bother to try to find the name of the hiring manager, recruiter, or other HR contact, then how much effort will you put into your job?

In online dating, this is the cut-n-paste email.   You send it to every girl who even remotely interests you, and guess what?  We can tell.   Delete!

Solution:  Find something that you can write about that shows that you read her profile.  Talk about one of her hobbies, the book she just read, how cute her dog is… anything that shows you read her profile.

Mistake 2: Starting off weak.

Do you know how many cover letters start out with “I saw your posting on…“?   Yawn!

Do you know how many emails to potential girlfriends start with “I read your profile, and…

Solution: Start with a bang!   “Wow! I never thought I’d find someone who loves archery as much as I do!

Mistake 3: Making it too short/long.

Email correspondence should always be shorter than snail mail.  This means shorter than average paragraphs and shorter than average length overall.

Going too short in a first contact email will make her think you’re shooting off dozens of these (and she’s not that special for receiving one!).   Go too long and you risk losing her interest.

Solution: Unless you are an amazing writer, keep it short(er) and sweet.

Mistake 4: Being generic.

This ties in to Mistake #1.    You want to stand out from the crowd.   If your cover letter shows you’ve done zero research about the company, you will be tossed in the shredder.

If your email even slightly smells of cut-n-paste dating email, it will be deleted.

Solution: Take a few extra minutes to know your audience and write to that audience specifically.

Mistake 5: Rehashing the resume.

Your resume gives the details of your work history.   Your cover letter should reinforce a few key areas, but not rehash everything from your resume.

Your dating profile is your resume!  She’ll be able to see that you’re a 28 year old man from Columbus, Ohio and that you enjoy skiing.

Solution: Focus on HER and why she should write you back.

Mistake 6:  Underselling Your Talents.

In a cover letter, you need to feature all the reasons why an employer should call you for an interview.   You never want to say, “I know you want 3-5 years of widget making experience, but I hope you’ll consider my two years sufficient.”   You want to hype up your skills – “I was just selected as the Top Widget Maker at my current job.

I can’t tell you how many guys point out their “bad” qualities in a first contact email.

  • “I know your profile says you only want guys under 30, but…”
  • “I’m a little more teddy bear than the guys you say you want, but…”
  • “I’m outside your search radius, but…”

Solution: Do not mention your “bad” qualities!!   Toot your horn about what makes you worth emailing.

Mistake 7: Trying to be witty or humorous.

Humor is very subjective – what’s funny to you may be incomprehensible – or worse! – downright objectionable to an employer.   There’s nothing wrong with conversational style but know that you are in essence writing a stranger who does not yet appreciate your rapier wit.

Solution: Your first contact emails can include humor if you know you’re good at it.  A well-placed witty line can definitely make the difference between a girl replying or not replying.

My favorite line from an ex’s dating profile (and I’m not sure he was trying to be funny):  “Don’t be vapid.  Know what vapid means.

Mistake 8: Focusing too much on yourself.

An employer is interested in how YOU can serve THEIR needs.  Writing your cover letter from this angle is the best way to get the interview.

If your first contact email is full of “I… I… I…” instead of “you… you… you…”, you will find you won’t get many responses.

Solution: Focus on how YOU can fill the gap in HER life.

Mistake 9: Omitting contact information.

Surprisingly, there are people who don’t put their contact information in their cover letters.  It’s as easy as a signature file in your email or a footer on your printed letter, but it’s often overlooked.

Let’s face it – there are lots of girls who don’t want to pay for a subscription or will let theirs lapse after the free trial.   If you don’t give her a way to get in contact with you, you may lose her!

Solution: For first contact emails, it’s best to include some way to contact you other than the site email system.  An IM handle works beautifully – you should have AIM and YahooIM to be sure you cover your bases!

Mistake 10: Failing to proofread.

I had a Business Computer Applications teacher in high school who would give you a zero on an assignment if she found ONE mistake or typo.   You could redo the assignment, but the tough part is she never told you WHERE to find the mistake, just that there was one.   It annoyed the heck out of me when I was 17, but instilled in me the habit of proofreading.

Do I still make mistakes?  Sure.  But more often than not, they’re ones I make when I am rushing to finish something.

There is nothing more distracting and unattractive than reading a first contact email (or profile!) full of spelling and grammar mistakes.  If someone butchers the English language, they’re going to be turning away possible dates.

Solution: Most browsers offer spellchecker options – use them!   Take the time to read your text out loud.   If you have a sympathetic friend, have them read your text out loud to you.  A few moments of editing will yield results.

In Conclusion

Think of your first contact emails like cover letters for the job of boyfriend.  They don’t need to be business-like, but they need to be written from a similar angle.

An employer needs an employee that fills the gap in their staff.   Your cover letter proves that you know about their company and its needs and you have the skills and experience for the job.

A woman on the internet dating scene needs a man who will be her perfect partner.   Your first contact email proves that you know what makes her tick and that you have the personality that will fit with hers.

Still lost?  Overwhelmed? Let me help.

About e

Since 2008, E. Foley of Geek’s Dream Girl has been helping geeks from around the world find love. She writes amazing online dating profiles for her fellow geeks and guides them through the perilous waters of the dating scene and out the other side. She's totally proud to report that she's even caused a couple geek weddings! She lives in Maryland with DaveTheGame, her adorable cats, Mr. Peanut & Don Juan, and Titania, Queen of the Cocker Spaniels. (Email e, or follow @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.)

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