How to write an application letter

A compelling application letter may mean the difference between getting a job interview and never hearing back.

An application letter, sometimes known as a cover letter, is the equivalent of a first impression in the process of recruitment. After all, it’s the first thing a hiring manager sees.

To a hiring manager, an engaging application letter provides a glimpse of the person behind the qualifications. When written well, it can help you get your foot in the door. Here is a guideline on how to write an application letter.

The Salutation – First impressions count

Using generic introductions like “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern” makes it seem like you were taking a stab in the dark by sending out a hundred copies of the same resume to many companies. Take the effort to address the cover letter directly to the hiring manager. When so many resumes are reviewed on a daily basis, your attention to detail will stand out. If necessary, call the company to find out the name of the hiring manager. Pro tip: A colon in the salutation sets the tone and keeps the application formal.

The First Paragraph – Don’t beat around the bush

Get to the point of wanting the position in the introductory paragraph. State the formal title of the position you are gunning for and the name of your referral if any. Since the application letter is a teaser to your resume, offer a preview of your qualifications or a lesser known fact about the company which would demonstrate that you did some serious research before applying.

The Body – It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it

Promote yourself in the body. Adopt a conversational writing style and express your passion, personality and interest in the job and industry you are applying for. This is your opportunity to set yourself apart from fellow applicants. Companies sometimes use computer programs to filter out irrelevant applications, so use exact phrases from the job description if you can. Similarly, hiring managers also look out for the appearance of these same phrases for relevancy.

Make sure you explain in certain terms how you can be an asset to the company and define clearly the value you bring to the table.

Closing paragraph – The beginning of the next step

State your call to action here. Again, reiterate your interest in the position, and ask for an opportunity to continue the conversation. Don’t forget to mention when you will follow up (and remember to do so!). Thank the reader for his or her time and include a closing to say that you’ll be looking forward to meeting soon.

A well-written application letter catches hiring managers’ eyes and makes them continue reading your actual resume. Take tips on how to write an application letter, then these will help you to open the first door.