A poorly written application letter could close the door on employment opportunities before you’ve even met an employer. While your resume is certainly important, the accompanying application letter could introduce you to hiring managers, creating a positive impression before those professionals turn their attention to the resume. Hiring personnel only give a few seconds to most applications, so it is vital to grab their attention right away.
Using the right tools, you can create a brilliant letter that captures the reader’s interest. With this crucial introduction, take time to share your interest in the company and what you have to offer. Include words of commendation from past employers or draw attention to specific skills that align with the job posting. Use our tips and writing guide on how to write an application letter to engage the attention of hiring managers and get your foot in the door.
How To Write an Application Letter
1. Prepare with some in-depth research
Before you write anything, spend time researching the company and what they want in an employee. Use the job description to get specifics about desirable skills and experience. In addition to using the job listing, check out the company’s website and any other online descriptions, such as social media accounts. This sets you in the right direction so you keep your application on track when describing your qualifications.
2. Address the letter appropriately
As you research how to write an application letter, you’ll probably come across suggestions to maintain a professional and positive attitude. Right from the start, you should display an attitude of confidence and ambition.
With your research complete and with the appropriate mindset firmly established, it is time to begin actually writing the letter. Although brief, the opening salutation could make or break your missive.
For example, if you’ve come across the name of the hiring manager during your research (and hopefully you have), and you assume the wrong gender or status of that professional, a “Mr.” or “Mrs.” could cause a problem. The best approach is to use the recruiter’s full name. If the person has a professional title, such as “Dr.,” “Chief,” or “President,” it is a good idea to include that designation.
If you can’t find a name, opt for using a specific job title. For example, “Hiring Manager” or “Vice-President” is better than the generic “To Whom It May Concern.” Maintain a professional and informed tone right from the beginning of the letter.
3. Focus on the top third of the letter
Hiring managers quickly scan the first part of application letters and resumes to decide whether to keep reading. Put your most engaging information within the first three seconds of your letter. Use this space to include samples of those qualifications that make you a great fit for the company. If you have a website, include a link. If there are pictures of your work online, provide a link to those samples as well. Remember: This is where you convince hiring managers to spend more time on your application.
4. Express excitement about the company
You may want to use the first sentence or two to talk about the mission statement or culture of the company and its products or services. Use these first sentences to grab the recruiter’s attention. Include strong statements that draw connections between your qualifications and the goals of the company. Maintain a professional tone, but if the company has an informal culture, consider matching that tone in your letter.
5. Present fresh information
Don’t just re-share the information in your resume; your application letter is a great spot to include more details about your accomplishments. Use this letter to describe why you’re a better fit than other candidates and those things that you and you alone can bring to the company.
Use the letter to cast a positive light on the skills and achievements you’ll be sharing in the resume. Draw attention to those qualifications potential employers must see. Consider using the summary section from your professional website as a resource.
Write one or two sentences that clearly state your experience and most important achievements. Resist the temptation to exaggerate; this type of language can reduce the authenticity and impact of your letter.
6. Share pertinent resources
Don’t be afraid to refer to anyone you know within the company in the first section of the letter. Networking is an important professional skill, so bringing attention to professionals within the same industry as the company can boost the impact of your application letter. Did a company employee refer you to the open position? Don’t be shy about including that name in your opening statements.
7. Maintain strong writing
Don’t lose your strong start; continue to bring your best to the application letter until you’ve finished writing. With each sentence, renew your determination to hold the interest of the hiring manager.
Continue to review writing guides on how to write an application letter and use best practices while writing. Throughout the letter, use keywords from the job listing, back up your claim to bring value to the company, draw attention to positive achievements relevant to the position, and share examples of your background and personality. If necessary, pull out a thesaurus to avoid overusing popular terms, such as “team player.”
8. End with strength
The conclusion of your application is as important as your opening. Refer again to your excitement about the position and direct the hiring manager to your resume. Inspire the recruiter to take action with a statement such as, “I look forward to receiving an email about the next steps in the hiring process” or “I will watch for instructions about scheduling an interview.”
Even though the hiring manager has your contact information on your resume, include your phone number and email address at the end of your letter. Express gratitude for the time recruiters spent on your application and use an appropriate closing statement, such as “sincerely” or “best regards.” Close with your full name.
Review this example cover letter. Look for the use of best practices throughout.
I appreciate receiving a referral regarding the open position for digital specialist II at Landis 5S Digital Solutions. Tory Muller, who works for the company as a regional marketing supervisor, felt I could bring some value to your company based on the success of my recent achievements. I have three years of experience working with operational digital marketing tools, implementing the use of programs such as SEO and SEM solutions, and training peers on the use of those programs. My familiarity with backlinks, analytics, keywords, and other solutions has supported personal growth in my current employment. I have established a strong network of peers and experts who support my work in this and related areas.
Tory has shared several great examples of the work done by your company. I believe that I can bring strength to your mission objectives of improving digital marketing methods that draw businesses closer to their customers. I believe that my ability to quickly configure webmaster tools for franchise websites and conduct comprehensive staff training (which has reduced user errors by 75%) can increase your company’s accuracy rate and customer satisfaction.
In my work as a digital specialist I, I acted as point of contact for several outside marketing vendors. The professional relationships I established with these experts have provided valuable insights into the desires of consumers and the most effective methods of fulfilling those desires. I am excited to bring these resources to your company and to create a stronger network that benefits everyone involved.
The Author Realization Campaign you recently carried out on behalf of the libraries and bookstores in the Springfield area impressed me. I feel it aligns with my own interests for creating marketing solutions that benefit the community.
Thank you for reviewing my application. I am confident I can bring value to your company with my experience and resources. I have included my resume and provided links to some of my achievements. I’d love the chance to discuss other strengths I can bring to your company. Please reach me by phone at 555-555-555 or by email at [email protected]