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How to Write a Successful Job Application Letter

Writing a job application letter can be a piece of a cake as long as you know what needs to go in it. But, do you? If not, here is how to create one.

Since competition in the job market is fierce, you want your job application letter to be unforgettable. When applying for jobs, your cover letter may be the one thing makes you stand out, but it is not as detailed as a job application letter. This letter is the first point of contact with a potential employer, which means it is the tool they are likely to use it to judge you, and create an image around your name.

An effective way to write an impressive job application letter is to create a document that more or less looks like a cover letter but can give out more information about you. So, whereas a cover letter usually provides an outline of your skills or credentials in two or three sentences per paragraph and explains your interest in the job, an application letter goes into more detail.

A job application letter can stand on its own whereas a cover letter is supplementary to your resume. So, let’s say, you aren’t required to complete an application to apply for the job (this is more common for recent graduates) and you are just sending out your resume, a cover letter helps to make your resume more powerful and convincing. But, a job application letter is complete, and it’s often used to provide more personal information such as explaining your work history, a career change, your current situation and other details that may be unclear on your resume.

While these two are often related – and some career experts claim it’s the same thing, it’s important to understand the small differences between the two because this is what’s going to help you create a successful job application letter.

If you are currently looking for a job, then you are going to need to write a job application letter at some point. Here’s some useful advice.

Writing a Job Application Letter

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Before you are ready to start writing your job application letter, you have to make sure that this is what the employer wants. Some employers may require a cover letter and your resume; others may be satisfied with you completing a job application form, or writing a letter and sending your resume. If you are not following their rules, your application might be ignored. This is why it’s important to read the job advert guidelines before you proceed with your application.

When applying for a position in a company that isn’t advertising specific vacancies, you may use a job application letter so that you provide employers with an introduction to who you are. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are applying for a position because you aren’t sending your resume to employers, though you are advised to. Instead, you are asking for a chance to meet them, and you are taking that first step by allowing them to meet you. An application letter can also be used to apply for academic programs or internships.

Ruth Mayhew, from Demand Media, explains on Chron.com the main differences between a job application letter and cover letter. Starting from top to bottom, she explains that even though they serve the same purpose, a strong job application is more detailed than a cover letter, has an extended introduction, presents an outline of work history, education and qualifications and serves multiple purposes in contrast to cover letters.

The construction of a job application letter is similar to that of a cover letter, but there are some points you need to pay additional attention to.    

1. Salutation

Open your letter with ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ instead of ‘To Whom it May Concern’ and explain why you are contacting the employer and sending out the letter. If you know the name of the recipient, that’s even better. If you don't, you can search for it online - on the company's page or on LinkedIn.

2. Extended Introduction - Paragraph 1

If you are applying for a specific position, state the job title and tell employers where you found the job advert and how you learnt about the organisation. Here, you need to explain the reason you are sending the letter to catch the employer's attention immediately.

3. Paragraph 2

You should focus on the employer and the type of work they are doing. Show evidence of the research you have done on the employer and talk about specific areas of work that they are carrying out. This gives you a chance to refer to your skills or qualities and associate these with the position. It is time to get down to specifics; mention your qualifications, years of work experience and what you have learned from these.

4. Paragraph 3

Then, talk about your work history in more detail. Mention the different job positions you have had and show that you equipped yourself with the necessary skills and experience needed for the position you are applying for. At this point, you should refer to job related skills that can prove you are suitable for the job.

5. Paragraph 4

Towards the end of the letter, you can talk about other skills and qualities that you possess which you consider important for the job. Check the job advert again and find out what keywords and phrases describe the best job candidate. Is it leadership, organizational skills, teamwork or trustworthiness? Thinking back on your achievements, try to give examples on how you possess these qualities to prove that you are a good fit for the company culture.

6. Final Paragraph

Whereas the previous paragraphs are all about ‘selling your skills’, the final paragraph is where you ask employers to meet you. What you are going for here is an informational or a job interview. You can talk about your current situation, stating that you would like to work for their company. You should also mention when you are next available to meet them and leave your contact details so that they can speak to you directly.

This is a great job application letter/cover letter sample from Careercentre that shows how it should be written

As you can see, this letter gives a lot of attention to what you have to offer to employers. Relating your credentials to the requirements of the position you are applying for will help you convince employers that you have what it takes to get the job. The secret to writing a successful application letter is coming up with the appropriate arguments and examples that can back up your skills.

Here are some additional tips to help you write your application letter:

Include Bullet Points

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If you don’t want to include too many paragraphs in your application letter, you can also use bullet points. But, why include bullet points? For the same reason they are on your resume. This style of writing gives employers the information they need right away. A simple scan of your resume forces them to look at these points without too much difficulty and focus on what’s important.

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job search

Use Positive Skills Words

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There are some words you can and should include in your application letter to make it more powerful. What do we mean by that? Some of the positive skills words you can use according to the Careercentre team who have prepared a very handy list, are ‘assisted’, ‘conducted’, ‘executed’, ‘proposed’, ‘recommended’ along with many others that highlight the positive contribution you had in your previous roles.

Use Easy Language

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Avoid using complicated words when writing your job application letter. This is to minimize confusion and help employers understand what you are saying. Make sure that you know the difference between using formal language and complicated words because while you will need to use formal language, complex words will work against you. 

See Also: How to Write Your Cover Letter Like a Love Letter

Writing a job application letter is not very different to writing a cover letter, though it is usually longer and more comprehensive than a cover letter. If you want to make a strong impression on employers, you need to learn how to write a strong job application letter that effectively expresses your interest in the job and highlights your key skills related to the position you are applying for.

Have you ever written a job application letter? Let us know how you did it in the comments section below…

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