The purpose of an application letter is to express interest in taking part in a particular opportunity. There are many events in life that require an application letter. Most colleges and universities need a letter of application from prospective students for admission. Human resources departments often use a letter of application to determine which jobseekers get an interview.
A well-written letter of application is an important step to achieving your goals. It may be the first impression you make on a prospective school or employer. Submitting a shoddy document sends the message that you don’t care or perhaps you aren’t taking this opportunity seriously. Neither of those sentiments will get your foot in the door.
If you are in a quandary about how to begin writing, take a look at our application letter templates. Easily adapted for any type of application, they will guide you and show you the way to successful letter writing. Study the helpful tips and suggestions as well. Are you ready to move forward with your goals? Read on.
Application Letter Templates
Application Letter for a Part-Time Job
Don’t assume a part-time job means you can skimp on your letter. This is your opportunity to explain why part-time employment is a good fit for you and what skills and experience you can bring to the job. Use our application letter templates for ideas on what to include and how to sound professional.
General Application Letter
Sometimes jobseekers are to submit one general letter of application for multiple positions. For example, performing artists will often apply to several performing opportunities with one “umbrella” letter. In this case, one letter has to interest many different hiring heads. Our application letter templates will show you how to craft this letter and get you off to a great start.
Application Letter for College Admission
Applying for college is a high-stress, high-stakes time of life. The application letter is so important. It tells the school admissions office why you’re interested in their school, how serious you are about attending, and how well you will fit into their campus culture. Reduce some of that stress by studying our application letter templates.
Application Letter for Job
Many jobs, especially post-college and higher-level jobs, require an application letter. This letter tells the employer why you want to work for them and how you can benefit their company. It may be their first introduction to you, so you must make a great impression. Follow our application letter templates and write the letter that will get you an interview.
Application Letter Writing Etiquette
1. Make It Match
Tailor each letter of application to the position or school for which you are applying. General observations such as, “I’d really like to attend a small, private college,” ring hollow and insincere. If the letter is for a job, briefly mention what specific skills you have that fit the position. If it’s for a college or university, give personal reasons why that school interests you. Don’t have cardboard cookie-cutter lists here. Make it clear that you have a special, particular interest in this opportunity.
2. Be Succinct
Keep it short and to the point. One page is sufficient for a good letter of application. If you write it well, anything else you would have written you can tell them in person at the interview. Hiring managers and school admissions counselors simply don’t have the time to wade through lengthy epistles and are more likely to dismiss the letters they don’t want to read. Be respectful of their time. Brevity also forces you to be specific in your statements. It is more effective when your writing hones in on the essence of your interest.
3. Know to Whom You Are Speaking
Long gone are the days when “To whom it may concern” was an acceptable form of address in an application letter. If it’s not clear in the job description who the hiring manager is, call the company and ask. That bit of personal initiative shows genuine interest on your part. If you are applying to a college, “Dear Office of Admissions” works well, as does “Dear Mr. or Ms.” if you happen to know the last name. Using this salutation is a polite, well-mannered way to introduce yourself. Administrators appreciate a thoughtful greeting of individual acknowledgement.
4. Avoid Oversharing
Keep the tone of your application letter professional and polished. Mention two or three significant accomplishments and some things you value, such as volunteer work or opportunities to collaborate. Unless specifically requested, as a few college application letters might, this is not the place to share stories about your social life or softball team. Make sure all the information is relevant. Check our application letter templates for ideas on how to set the right tone with your letter.
5. Talk About Them
While it’s true an application letter is usually your introduction to an employer or school, it’s important to spend a little time talking about them. Don’t make this all about you. That can sound boastful and self-centered. Indicate how your attributes and skills can help them. Are you a dynamic team player or a creative problem-solver? Are you a socially conscious student interested in improving campus-community relations? Let them know you care about who they are and how you can contribute to their culture in positive ways.
6. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Don’t send out an application letter with typos or grammar mistakes. Read it slowly and out loud several times. Run it through online grammar checkers. Give it to friends and family to read. Most hiring managers will toss an application letter with mistakes, regardless of the candidate’s qualifications. Students who can’t express themselves correctly in writing don’t impress college administrators. An application letter with mistakes sends the message that you don’t care and that you do sloppy work, which is not the impression you want to make.
7. Provide New Information
If your application letter is simply a rehash of your resume, then you just bored the hiring manager in addition to missing a great opportunity to share some new information. If your college application letter tells the admissions committee everything they’re about to read in your “future plans” essay, you’ve wasted their time. Use the application letter to draw attention to an accomplishment or two that shows what a great fit you are for this opportunity. Letters that restate the obvious are a turn-off to prospective employers and college administrators.
8. Be polite
Always use professional language. Don’t trash talk anyone, especially competitors. It will not help you get into the college of your choice to write, “I loved how State U tromped those lousy Bulldogs last Saturday!” Remember that managers and administrators change jobs frequently. They may have worked for that rival school or company, and if they didn’t, they likely have contacts or friends who do. Show that you respect everyone, regardless of affiliation, politics, religious beliefs, etc. Also, be sure to thank them for their time and consideration.
9. Speak to Strengths, Not Weaknesses
Not every job is a “dream job,” nor is every university the “perfect school.” There’s no need to bring up your perceived shortcomings about the opportunity in your application letter. If there are issues that will need negotiation, such as scholarships for college or flex-time schedules for employment, those topics are for later discussion. Focus on the strengths of the opportunity, the potential for a positive outcome, and the mutual benefits. Chances are the hiring manager or admissions counselor is quite aware of any possible weaknesses and doesn’t need a reminder from you.
10. Always Follow Up
In addition to including your contact information so interested parties may get in touch with you, a nice way to close your letter is to offer to get in touch with them. You might write something like, “I will give you a call if I haven’t heard from you in two weeks.” This indicates interest and initiative, both positive traits in a future employee or student. Administrators also appreciate prospective students or employers who are willing to shoulder some of the work and assume some of the responsibility.