Engineers International - The engineers Index
(United States)

Writing Job Application Letters

The job application letter's sole purpose is to get the recipient to read your CV.  It should be clear, concise and straight to the point. Here you are simply telling the employer that you are worth having a look at.

The application letter should be brief, no more than one page in length. It should be easy to read and flow through. It should include only the absolute necessary information. Like most other things, there is a formula that works extremely well for preparing job application letters. Following we discuss each paragraph and give you some guidelines

Addressing job application letters:

The style you choose is not important, there are many different styles of job applications and professional letters, this comes down to personal preference. However somewhere on the top, whether it is on the right or left hand sides, there should be your address and the date.  Following this, on the left hand side you should address it. Ensure you include the name of the person, their title, company name, address and any position reference number.  This is probably obvious, but ensure that you spell their name correctly, there is nothing worse than receiving a letter incorrectly addressed or misspelled.  It gives a poor first impression.

The Introductory Paragraph:

The first paragraph should simply state why you are writing to them.  If it is an advertised position, mention the position title and where it was advertised.  If you are "cold calling" a company then you should specify that you are applying for any current or future employment opportunities.

An easy way to start this paragraph is with the following statement:  " Please find enclosed my CV, which I am forwarding to you as an application for the position of......."

The main body of job application letters:

The main body of an application letter should be two to three paragraphs at the most, if it is too long it may be skipped. When I reader begins to skip text, it is hard to get them to re-focus.   Here is where you tell them what you have to offer and why they should read your CV.  This is a good time to read the job advertisement again.  In one paragraph (two at the most) you need to summarise your experience and skills, at the same time, you need to respond to the position requirements as per the advertisement.

Analyse your career and summarise it in a few sentences, highlight what you specialise in, or how many years in the industry you might have, or even the level that you have reached.  This paragraph should direct the reader to your CV and should sell you on some unique points that you might have.

A good way to start this paragraph is with a statement like this: "You will see from my enclosed CV...."  then go ahead and tell them something about your career which will immediately get their interest. 

The next part of the body of the letter should be a brief description of your personal skills.  Again read the advertisement and respond to their needs.  If they are asking for someone with good co-ordination skills, then ensure you mention something to that effect.  If it is communication or perhaps leadership skills they value, then tell them that you have these.  Use adjectives like "demonstrated ability", "well developed", "strong".

Job Application Letters Closing Paragraph:

The closing paragraph should ask for some action from the recipient.  This is where you ask for an interview.  It should also state where and how they can reach you, and it should thank the recipient for giving you the opportunity to apply.  You can include things like "should you require further information....." .

Finish the letter by adding a closing remark, either "yours sincerely", "yours faithfully' or whatever you feel comfortable with and obeying general letter writing etiquette.  Leave a few spaces for your signature and then place your full name.

Before you mail the application letter, read it over again, making sure that it is perfect.  Special attention should be placed to ensure the job application letter:

  • Is not too long.

  • Has no grammar or spelling errors.

  • Answers the job requirements.

  • Flows and is easy to read.

  • Is easy to load into recruitment software.

You might have to type and edit the letter many times before you are happy with it, but just remember that the job application letter is just as important as the CV itself.  The letter should invite the recipient to read the resume, in turn the resume should raise enough interest for them to want to interview you.  The Interview is where you will demonstrate your skills and abilities.

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