Over the past few years, I have been responsible for recruiting dozens of people and seen hundreds of Resumes and Application Letters. 

Whilst a great application letter won’t get you a job by itself, a bad one can certainly hinder your efforts.

There are a few simple principles to keep in mind when putting together a job application letter.  Follow these and you should see your chances of job success increase.

Not too long.  As a rule, you don’t want to be writing War and Peace when putting together your application letter.  Approximately one A4 page should be sufficient as any longer will often give potential employers a reason not to read it all and place it on the dreaded “no” pile.

The exception to this rule is where the application requires you to answer a range of specific questions.  In this case, the length of the letter will be dependant on the number of questions.

Check spelling and grammar.  I can still recall an application letter where the applicant outlined his “excelent ritten and verbil comunicaton skils.”  You can guess which pile this application was placed into.

In the era of spell-checks, there is very little excuse for sending in applications that have spelling errors.  The little red line is there for a reason, make sure that you use it.

Grammar can be a bit more challenging as in this age of texts and tweets, writing full sentences and paragraphs is not used as often as in days gone by.  If you’re not confident in your writing ability, I would suggest asking a trusted friend to read your letter for you.

Don’t add a photo.  I’m not sure why, but some people feel compelled to attach their photo to their application letter.  Unless you’re applying for a job with a modelling agency, it is totally unnecessary. 

Be professional.  Even if you think that you know the recruiting manager, it is always wise to maintain professionalism when writing an application letter.  Keep away from slang or unnecessary abbreviations, ensuring that your language is appropriate throughout the letter. 

Structuring your letter also assists in making it look professional, so be conscious of gaps between paragraphs, clear headings, margins and a legible font size and type.

Be specific and relevant.  When writing an application letter, don’t just use exactly the same one that you used previously with only the company name changed. 

It’s important that you identify some of the key words that are contained in the job description and incorporate them into your application.  Obviously, it’s also critical that you then display in your letter how you are able to meet the criteria mentioned. 

If you can find the name of the hiring manager, that’s a lot more personal than the standard “to whom it may concern.”  Little details like this can make your application stand out from the rest which is what you want. 

Keep it up to date.  Like your resume, it’s important that you don’t just dust off the application letter that you used last time, but that you keep it up to date, incorporating some of your most recent achievements. 

Your application letter is important so make sure that whenever you are applying for a role, you spend a little bit of extra time getting it right.  It could be a great investment of time that assists you in reaching the next stage of your career.

Are there any other tips for effective application letters  that you would like to share?

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