An application letter, also known as a "cover letter," is sent with your resume during the job application process. A letter adds more personality to your application by providing more details about your background and interest in the position, while a resume outlines your professional skills and experience more. Understanding how to write a professional job application letter can increase your chances of securing job interviews or even landing job opportunities. In this article, we describe the purpose of a job application letter and explain how to write a job application letter. We will also provide tips, a template, and an example of this type of letter to help you write your own.
Related: How To Format a Cover Letter
What is a job application letter?
An application letter is a standalone document you submit to a potential employer to express your interest in an open position. The job application letter explains who you are as a professional and an individual. The letter highlights your achievements and skills, helping to get the attention of the hiring manager or recruiter responsible for reviewing applications. When written well, this letter explains to the reader why they should meet you for an interview and highlights the key qualifications that make you a fit for the role.
A job application letter can impress a potential employer and set you apart from other applicants. In your letter, you may also want to show your familiarity with the company to which you're applying. You can talk about how your professional goals and aspirations align with the company's goals. It's important to use your job application letter to showcase aspects of your personality.
How to write a job application letter
Follow these steps on how to write a job application letter that's professional-sounding:
1. Learn about the company and role
It's best to write a new application letter for each position you're applying for, so you can include pertinent details and show your interest in the particular open role. Spend some time reviewing the company information, which you can likely find on the website, as well as the position listing. Compare your qualifications and experience with the list of skills in that posting. You may also want to think about specific experiences that have prepared you for the role, such as leading a team or managing a major event.
2. Start by explaining your interest
Use the first paragraph of your application letter to share your interest in the role. Make sure to mention the job title, company name, and where you found the job. Include a sentence or two that explains why you'd be a good fit for this role. The purpose of your opening is to introduce yourself and encourage the hiring manager to read more.
3. Explain your qualifications, skills, and experiences
In the next couple of paragraphs, you can summarise your experiences, skills, and qualifications that are relevant to the role. Before writing this section, read through the company's website to learn its mission and key objectives.
Think of ways you can connect your previous experiences to these factors. For instance, if you're applying for a nonprofit role, you might mention your previous experiences helping your community. This shows that you're committed to the company's mission. When writing this section, keep in mind that your letter needs to be an additional application document, not simply an expansion of your resume.
4. Show your interpersonal skills
As you're writing your job application letter, consider how you can incorporate aspects of your personality while remaining professional. A friendly and engaging letter is likely to appeal to the reader, especially when they can get an idea of how well you might fit into the team. This can also be a chance for you to share relevant anecdotes that demonstrate your strengths pertaining to the role.
5. Express your gratitude
At the end of your letter, show the hiring manager you appreciate them reading your application. Thank them for taking the time to consider you as a candidate, and express that you look forward to hearing from them soon. You can also let them know they can contact you directly if they need additional information. This can help you show that you're a polite and professional candidate.
6. Include a professional sign-off
Many people use “Sincerely” or “Best” to close the letter, though it is fine to include any professional sign-off. The final line of the letter is your full name. If you submit a hard copy of the letter, include your signature above your typed name. When submitting an application letter via email, include your contact information beneath your name, rather than including it in the header.
Tips for writing a job application letter
These tips can help you write a more professional and polished job application letter:
Incorporate relevant keywords
Keywords are words or phrases hiring managers may look for in your application letter. To determine which keywords to include, carefully read through the job description to see what words relate to the role. For instance, if a job posting includes a list of skills, it may be wise to include several of these skills in your letter. Likewise, if the job posting includes some adjectives to describe the kind of candidate the company wants, you can naturally incorporate some of these too.
Keep it brief
Your job application letter can be around a page long, consisting of several paragraphs. What's important is that you're highlighting your most relevant skills, experiences, and other qualifications. The purpose of this letter is to show employers your interest in their role and the value you can add. By using concise language, you're saving the hiring manager time and helping them learn about you faster.
Add new information
Most employers require you to submit a resume and a job application letter. Since they have both of these documents, you want to ensure each one is adding unique value to your application. Rather than reiterating what's on your resume, use your letter to include more details about several key experiences. This is your chance to explain how your experiences have allowed you to develop essential skills for the role you want.
Consider writing one for every application
When applying for jobs, the employer may not explicitly ask for a cover letter. Instead of just sending your resume in these cases, take the time to write a letter anyway, unless they specifically request applicants not to write one. This shows that you're willing to put in extra effort to get the job. When deciding between candidates, an employer may feel that those who write cover letters are more interested in the role.
Proofread before sending
Since your application letter is the first impression employers get of you, it's essential that it's well-written and free of any errors. Carefully read your letter several times before sending it. You can also ask a friend or family member to read through your letter to give you feedback.
Job application letter template
Here's a template of a job application letter you can use as guidance:
[Your email address]
[Your phone number]
[Name of hiring manager]
[Title of hiring manager]
Dear [hiring manager's name],
Outline where you saw the job posting and express your interest in working in this role.
Discuss some of the qualifications that would make you a good fit for the job.
Describe your past experience in a way that emphasises your personality and skills, while also showcasing how you have goals that align with the company's.
Express your appreciation to the hiring manager for reviewing your letter. Include any follow-up information, if applicable.
Job application letter example
Here's an example of a well-written job application letter:
343 Maple St.
+65 9000 0000
July 17, 2021
747 Hill St.
Dear Ms. Cheong,
I am writing to express my interest in the copywriting role at Marketing Corp that I found on Indeed.com. With my extensive background in writing and editing, I believe that I am the right candidate for this position.
In my current role, I am a junior copywriter who works under the direct supervision of the creative director. It is my responsibility to develop fresh and engaging content for our email marketing campaign. During my three years in this position, I have learned to use advanced email marketing and content management software, meaning that I would need minimal training to learn the systems your team uses.
I was drawn to your brand because I have always wanted to work for a nonprofit organisation. I strongly support your mission of giving food to the hungry, and I actually am a volunteer at Food Bank Singapore. Furthermore, I want to use my copywriting and marketing background to help your team develop marketing campaigns that encourage more people to become regular donors. With the right appeal to their interests and concerns, we can work together to create a successful campaign.
Thank you for taking the time to review my application letter. I am eager to hear from you and would enjoy scheduling a time to further discuss my qualifications.