By Joanna Zambas
Career Addict, August 21, 2018 —
Do you have your heart set on a specific company but have never seen them post a single vacancy? And are you on the verge of giving up completely, and convinced you’re going to be jobless and broke for the rest of your life?
Well, don’t crumple your perfectly written CV in a ball of paper just yet – there’s still hope for you!
All you need to do is write an awesome job application letter.
Application letters – which, contrary to popular belief, are quite different from cover letters (they’re longer and more detailed) – are a great way to get your foot in the door of a company that hasn’t advertised a position or when you’re applying for an academic programme or internship.
So, what are you waiting for?
Read on to find out how to write a great job application letter (and land that dream job of yours in the process)!
Structuring Your Letter
The structure and formatting of your application letter are just as important as the words you use to sell your skills and enthusiasm for the job. These tips below will help you deliver your message in a professional and effective way.
- Sender’s address: Begin your letter with your address listed in the left-hand corner of the page. In the US, it’s acceptable to list your address in the right-hand corner. (Skip this step if you’re going to send your application via email.)
- Date: As with any official letter, include the date of your letter a few lines below the address.
- Subject line: The subject of your email should make the manager want to read more and not automatically press the ‘delete’ button. It could be something like: ‘Social Media Expert with over 5 Years of Experience’.
- Inside address: The company’s address should appear a few lines below the above. Skip this if you’re sending an email.
- Salutation: As with any formal letter, you need to open with the correct formal salutation (such as ‘Dear Mr [surname]’ or ‘Dear Ms [surname]’). It’s also best to find out who the head of the department is and address your letter directly to them to show that you’ve taken the time to really do your research. If you begin with ‘Dear Hiring Manager’, for example, you’re potentially destroying your chances of getting the job you’re applying for.
- Opening paragraph: The opening paragraph should provide details on why you’re getting in touch. Think about what you want to achieve with this letter before forming your answer. For example, you could say that it’s been a dream of yours to work for the company and you feel that, given the chance, you’d love to bring new skills and ideas to the table. You can also highlight any qualifications you have here.
- Body: This is where you will explain why you’re suitable for the position by listing skills you’ve developed through previous work experience. Remember that this shouldn’t be a word-for-word copy of your CV; rather, you should use this as an opportunity to expand on notable achievements. And make sure you tailor the content of your letter to the particular position and company you’re applying to – you don’t want to ramble on about irrelevant details.
- Final paragraph: Finally, focus on what you bring to the table and how the company can benefit from your skills and experience. If you have statistics and figures to back up your claims – even better! For example, if you’re an experienced project manager, you could say how you want to showcase your leadership skills and help the company reach its desired turnover, and then back this up with statistics on how you did just that in previous positions.
- Closing: You should close your letter with a call-to-action. For example, you could say something like: ‘I look forward to hearing back from you to discuss any possibilities’. And don’t forget to thank the reader for their time!
- Your name and signature: If you’re sending this by snail mail, opt for a handwritten signature. If, on the other hand, you’re sending an email, simply write your name, followed by your contact information.
Tips for Writing Your Letter
- Include bullet points: Bullet points can be used as an effective formatting tool when writing your application letter. They can demonstrate points clearly and concisely, as well as help with the overall layout, allowing for bite-sized, readable chunks of information.
- Make sure the language you use is easy to read: You might be a literary wizard, but those long words won’t impress the hiring manager if they make your letter difficult to read.
- Use positive words: Positivity is the way forward when it comes to selling your skills to a potential employer. Therefore, you should use positive words when explaining your previous work experience. These words include ‘assisted’, ‘conducted’, ‘executed’, ‘proposed’ and ‘recommended’, which (when used right) can demonstrate your contribution and dedication to your role and organisation.
- Be creative: Depending on the industry that you’re interested in, you can be a bit creative with your approach. This means that you don’t have to follow the conventional structure of a cover letter, and can instead adopt a more story-like approach.
The following samples can help you get started with your personal application letter or email and ensure you’ve covered all the right points.
Things to Remember
- Do your research: Research is one of the most important steps when it comes to job searching; you need to make sure that you know all there is about the organisation you’re targeting and you should have a clear understanding of what their company culture is like.
- Don’t forget to proofread: This goes without saying, but never send your application letter off without proofreading it. With so many readily available editing tools online, there’s no excuse for a careless typo or wordy sentences. Grammarly and Hemmingway are two of the most popular programmes to help you perfect your writing.
- Use their style of writing: You can usually guess a company’s style of writing from their website and publications. So, it’s important to try and keep your letter in line with this so they can see that you’re a real match for the position and that they’d be silly to not invite you for an interview.