First impressions are everything, particularly when you embark on a job search. Your letter of application can make a difference between being invited to interview for the job or receiving a letter to inform you they've selected someone else. The term "letter of application" is also referred to as a letter of interest or a cover letter, depending on the job and the employer's application. Regardless of the terminology, the purpose of your letter is to express your interest in the job and provide a summary of your qualifications.
Read the employer's application instructions. Many companies use IT-based applicant tracking systems; however, construct a letter of application to submit as part of the online application. You must also have a letter of application to submit a copy of your resume via email or postal mail to the recruiter or the hiring manager.
Conduct research about the company. Peruse the company's website and other resources that provide information about the company's products, services and business reputation. Become familiar with the organization's philosophy, mission and values. Your research enables you to compare various aspects of several different companies in which you may have an interest.
Review the job requirements carefully and compare them to your professional qualifications. List job duties, tasks and responsibilities that match your qualifications. This will be helpful as you draft your cover letter -- you can better summarize the key points in the job that correspond directly to your areas of expertise and professional experience.
Draft the first paragraph of your letter of application. State the position for which you are applying and list the documents that accompany your letter. Depending on the job, some employers require a resume, writing sample, professional references, portfolio or other materials that illustrate your qualifications.
Create the second paragraph of your letter of interest. Briefly state your qualifications and core competencies. Examples of core competencies are communication and organizational skills, time management techniques and leadership capabilities. Don't just copy information from your resume. Use a conversational tone to explain what you have that sets you apart from other applicants. Your goal is to capture the attention of the recruiter at the earliest possible point in your letter.
Create another paragraph that demonstrates your knowledge about the company. Impress the prospective employer with statements that show you took the time to read more about the company than simply the job listings. Describe parallels between your work ethics and the company philosophy. Indicate your career interests and how your qualifications will benefit the company.
Construct your final paragraph. In this section, indicate your availability, salary requirements, credentials and additional information that will convince the human resources specialist or hiring managers you are the right person for the job. Conclude your letter by thanking the reader for her time and anticipated response.
Proofread your letter of application. Set aside your letter of application and accompanying materials. With a fresh set of eyes, review your letter and application materials again. This is one of the most effective ways to ensure you're submitting a perfect application package that fulfills the employer's requirements.
Avoid creating a one-size-fits-all letter of application. For each application, incorporate information specific to the job and the company.
- Entrepreneur: Cover Letters. (The Scoop on Recruiting)
- Modern Language Association: CV, Dossiers, Application Letters, Writing Samples, and Portfolios
- Virginia Tech: Career Services: Cover Letters: Types and Samples
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Cover Letters for Academic Job Applications
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Composing a Letter of Application