How to write a letter of application

Whether you are writing a letter of application in answer to a job advertisement or just searching for work that has not been advertised, the reason is the same – to get an interview! The letter of application is likely to be the first correspondence you will have with an employer on which tbey will be able to judge you. Competition for jobs is tough and your job application needs to stand out. At times, employers may deal with hundreds of applications for the one position.

Application letters are an important part of the job package you send to the employer. Although your resume will necessarily outline your relevant work history, qualifications, dates and specific details about your job duties – the cover letter will generally contain more personal information and will include your motivations for seeking the position.

Cover letters are a useful way to ‘fill in the gaps’ that may be present if an employer was only to read your resume. For example, your cover letter can explain things like:

  • interstate relocation;
  • career change;
  • periods of unemployment; and
  • other details that may be unclear from reading your resume alone.

So, let’s get started.

Step 1. Name and contact details

Because it’s a formal letter, put your name and contact details on top, the name of the company you hope to work for, and the position you’re applying for. If there was a job ID number or contact name in the advertisement, pop them in there too. Take a look at the layout in the Sample Cover Letter here.

Step 2. The content

The content of the cover letter is usually broken up into four paragraphs. And even though it’s all about you, make sure you update the letter for each new position and look at it from the company’s perspective. They want to know how employing YOU will benefit THEM.

In the first paragraph, explain why you are applying for THIS job. It’s always great to research the company and position before you apply, so you can better explain why you’ll be a good match. The internet, particularly their website, is an excellent place to start.

In the second paragraph, outline how your previous job experience is a great fit for the position. If you’re new to the workforce, you can refer to your education or volunteer work. Include a few skills that might help in the position you’re applying for, like working with children, dealing with difficult customers, training new staff or qualifications that will boost the new role. Try focus on how those experiences will benefit THEM as a company.

In the third paragraph, write about your personal strengths. Are you extremely punctual? Perhaps you like nothing better than getting your hands dirty? Or maybe you wake up each morning bursting with enthusiasm and new ideas? Some people find it hard to blow their own horn, but this section isn’t about bragging or being modest. It’s about showing how YOUR personality fits with THEIR job. Some people like to add a sentence about their personal life or hobbies here too, if it’s relevant to the position.

In the fourth paragraph, close with a quick sentence or two thanking them for their time. Let them know you are happy to be contacted with any questions, and you look forward to hearing from them.

Step 3. Quality control

The final – and possibly most important – step is having somebody else read and spell-check your work before you send it!

Remember to make sure you:

  • include your contact details
  • only include information relevant to the position