Tips for Writing a Job Application Letter

  • Do not copy your resume. The purpose of this letter is to show that you are a strong candidate and to highlight your relevant experience and abilities. Since your application letter will be accompanied by your resume, make sure the letter does not duplicate your resume exactly. Your resume is a general record of your experience, education, and accomplishments. In contrast, your application letter should show how exactly your background makes you a good fit for a particular position.
  • Tailor each application letter to the job. As mentioned above, emphasize in your letter why you are an ideal candidate for the specific job. This requires that you personalize each letter to fit the specific company and position. Here's information on how you can closely match your qualifications to the job posting
  • Be professional. Application letters have a fairly rigid format — as hiring managers read your letter, they will expect to see certain information included in set areas. You have freedom within the structure to be personable, but it is important to stick to a certain level of formality. Pay particular attention to the professionalism of your salutation and what you call the employer. You wouldn't, for instance, want to refer to the letter's recipient by the first name unless specifically requested.
  • Edit, edit, edit. Employers are likely to overlook an application with a lot of errors. Therefore, read through your cover letter, and even consider asking a friend or career counselor to read the letter. Proofread any grammar or spelling errors. Be particularly mindful to spell the letter recipient's name correctly, as well as the company name. 

Job Application Letter Format

Use this formatting information as a guideline when writing your customized application letters, so you know what information goes where.
Contact Information
City, State, Zip Code
Phone Number
Email Address
Employer Contact Information (if you have it)
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name, (leave out if you don't have a contact)
Body of Application Letter
The body of your application letter lets the employer know what position you are applying for, why the employer should select you for an interview, and how you will follow up.

See below for a paragraph-by-paragraph breakdown of the body of the letter.  
First Paragraph
The first paragraph of your letter should include information on why you are writing. Mention the job you are applying for and where you found the job listing. Include the name of a mutual contact, if you have one. You might conclude by briefly and concisely saying why you think you are an ideal candidate for the job.
Middle Paragraph(s)
The next section of your application letter should describe what you have to offer the employer.
It can be a single paragraph, or you can break it up into a couple of paragraphs. If the section gets lengthy, you may use bullet points to break up the text. Remember, you are interpreting your resume, not repeating it.
Mention specifically how your qualifications match the job you are applying for.
In this portion of the letter, make your case for your candidacy. It can be helpful to spend some time researching the company — this knowledge and insight helps you make an informed and persuasive argument for your candidacy. 
Use specific examples whenever possible. For example, if you say that you have lots of experience working successfully on team projects, provide an example of a time you worked in a group and achieved success.
Final Paragraph 
Conclude your application letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow up.
Complimentary Close (examples)
Signature (for a hard copy letter)
Typed Signature


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