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How to write an application letter that gets noticed — Pt 1
Published: Wednesday, August 9, 2017 11:45:24 AM

Dear Career Advisor:

Kindly give me some pointers on how to put together an application letter that not only gets read, but which also results in a call to interview. Thanks.

Tabia W.


Dear Tabia:

Thank you for your question.

For many job seekers, the most challenging aspect of finding a job is writing appropriate and effective application letters. You face the challenge of deciding both what to say and how to say it. Recognising the importance of constructing an effective letter, we will provide a two-part response, focusing on general guidelines in the first, and tips for organising your letter in the second.

You should note that there is no single formula or model letter that will work well for every occasion. That said, one of the most fundamental things you can do to prepare for writing your letter is to pay careful attention to the language of the vacancy ad and to the requirements of the post detailed therein.

Here are a few more general principles for consideration before you begin writing:


Purpose and context

A well-written application or job search letter can enhance your employability, but for it to be effective, ie land you the job, it must be linked to your overall career development. Therefore, before you begin writing:

• Consider carefully the purpose for and desired impact of your letter;

• Assess your abilities, skills, knowledge, interests, preferences, values and motivation;

• Research and evaluate occupations, jobs and employers; and

• Define your work objectives and your career goals.


Writing style

As an act of communication, your letter says something important about you as a professional and as a prospective employee. To create a positive impact, analyse the organisation by introspectively considering the potential employer's needs and requirements. After such analysis, you can then plan and compose your letter to show how your background and talents can meet the employer's needs. Your goal will be to convince the employer of your value as a prospective employee; and persuade the reader to take action in your favour.


Time to write

i. Craft your letter to reflect what is import to your target audience, ie the requirements of the situation.

ii. Focus on articulating your value to the employer.

iii. Allow your individuality to be expressed through your writing.

iv. Remember, the responsibility for effective communication rests with the writer, not with the reader.


Next week, in part two, we will look at the organisation of your application or prospecting letter.

Until then, all the best.

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