An application letter is a cover letter, a sales letter, and a marketing tool all in one and it should accompany a professional resume any time a person applies for a job.
Its main objective is to get the applicant in the door for an interview and must be written well enough to attract the attention and interest of the person with the power to recommend or grant one.
The scope should include compelling information that will convince the reader that the qualifications outlined in the resume are strong enough to make an applicant a candidate.
Identify Your Reader
An application letter should be addressed to the person who is in charge of screening and hiring new employees. That person's name should be placed in the inside heading and salutation of your application. It should also be included on the top line of your envelope.
Remember that people do business with people first, businesses second. When you address your reader by name, you recognize their individual importance and value as a human being.
Establish Your Objective
The objective of an application letter is to attract the attention of an employer. It acts as a cover letter for your resume and should provide enough personal information to convince the reader to grant you an interview.
The qualifications you provide a potential employer should be included on your resume. Your cover letter should indicate that you are a suitable candidate and attract attention to your resume.
Determine Your Scope
The scope of your application letter should include those things that are specific to obtaining your objective - convincing the reader to grant you an interview. You should be brief, but include such things as:
- A specific job title
- A desired area of employment
- Source of job lead
- Educational background
- Work experience
- Leadership activities
- Specialized training
Remember, you are requesting an interview. Specify times at which you are available and the methods by which you can be contacted.
Organize Your Letter
Organizing your application letter will establish a logical order in which to present your information. You have already begun this task by establishing an objective and determining your scope. Refer back to them. Together they include much of the content that will become the body of your letter.
A simple outline will get you organized. Begin by creating a list of points that your letter will address and put them in the sequential order that will best help your reader comprehend your application. These points will become the backbone of your draft; your outline will become a checklist.
Draft Your Letter
Working from an outline is the simplest way to draft an application letter. You have already organized yourself by creating a list. Refer back to it and turn each fragment into a full and complete sentence expressing a single thought or idea.
In order that your thoughts and ideas are conveyed in a cohesive manner, write in as natural a sounding voice as possible. Try writing your draft quickly and then read it out loud. Concentrate on communicating your objective to your reader. Make sure that the scope of your letter contains all the relevant information included in your organizational list.
Keep in mind that you are writing a rough draft. For the moment you can ignore spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence and paragraph structure. Those are technical details that you will pay attention to in the final step when you review and revise your work.
Close Your Letter
An application letter should close in a professional manner. Once your last paragraph is written, sign off between a complimentary close such as "Sincerely," or "Thank you," and your printed name.
If you are writing in conjunction with an official duty, place your title below your printed name. Additional information such as dictation remarks, notification of attachments, enclosures and copies sent to other individuals should be placed beneath the title line.
Review and Revise Your Application Letter
Reviewing and revising the draft of your application letter is a final inspection, a last check to see whether your objective is clearly stated and your scope concisely defined. Put yourself in the reader's shoes and ask whether the details are accurate and complete.
Look for obvious errors. Check for spelling, sentence structure and grammar mistakes. Your complaint should be direct and to the point, so make sure that you have used a strong active voice.
Keep in mind the overall cohesiveness of your letter. Look for accuracy, clarity and a sense of completeness. Ask yourself if the transitions between paragraphs are working and if your point of view, tone and style are consistent throughout the text.
Examine your word choices carefully. Ambiguous words lead to confusion. Jargon and abstract terms may not be understood at all and affectations, cliches and trite language serve no real purpose and will obscure your objective.
If you have not written an opening or a closing now is the time. The introduction should lead into the letter with a firm statement about the position or job you are seeking. The conclusion should provide your contact information.