Instead we have provided all our letter writing secrets
to you for FREE and these form part of our 5 letter writing
sections. If you really want to succeed read through all our copyright
protected material. It is all relevant and comprehensive.
Job search index
Keep scrolling or you will miss important
Addressing the employer's needs not your own.
Employers spend thousands of dollars on an a job advertisement that sets out their
employment criteria. Put yourself in the employer's shoes. Do you think that they will be impressed
with an application letter that states how good you are and what you can do without
addressing their advertised requirements? Of course not. Yet many good applicants,
including highly placed professionals, still won't budge from their "usual cover
letter," which states how good they are, ignoring individual company needs
and is, in fact, it is almost a 'one fits all' letter.
Amazingly, as stated, it has been demonstrated time and again that many people just
see the real value and purpose of an application letter with
content relevant to the specific job. They
think the resume will speak for itself. It doesn't. Consider
application letter creates a first impression.
Employer's will not try and pick through your resume to see if you have the
criteria they want. It is up to you to tell them.
Busy recruiters will put aside a poorly written application letter
and may not
look at the resume.
It provides the reader with an insight into your job capabilities, your
motivation and your personality, which may not be apparent in your
resume and may be difficult to show in a resume.
Your letter reflects your writing skills as well as your communication style.
Your application letter is an example of your
communication skills. If it is vastly different to
your own communication style, or level of competency, you may set yourself up to fail in the interview.
application letter should be designed to grab the readers attention
so they will continue to read it more thoroughly.
(powerful opening statements- below)
It should demonstrate you have done your research on the company.
What you say in your application letter must be backed up in the resume or
it is meaningless.
That is not to say they should match exactly; your letter should do
this. (except career change letters).
If the reader can't see that you have skills in the area you
stated, your targeting is wrong or your resume is poor.
Your application letter should strike the right tone (see further on) and you shouldn't use
jargon or overused meaningless phrases, often found in badly written
discussed further down, your job application must
have a logical format
and the end.
The reason some people may fail to get an interview
is because they use a sample cover / application letter found on the internet without customising
the content, or
they use the same letter for every job - making only minor
alterations in content. This does not fit the criteria of a good application
Of course, sample letters will give you some great ideas.
However, you cannot, and should not, use anyone else's application letter.
An example of the process used to
address the employer's needs
has been provided in
sample job applications.
to be able to write this type of letter you require knowledge
of what makes a good job application letter.
See Writing Job
Applications Using Marketing Techniques
first, as some of the concepts, such as features and benefits, are
discussed in this section.
Your job application should create:-
Attention - opening statement
Interest - this is the beginning of the application
Desire - middle of the application
Action - (in sales terms where do you buy). This is the end
of the application
See this detailed explanation of AIDA in "The process of
applying for an advertised job using AIDA
beginning of the application letter : Capture
the attention of the reader
The old traditional method of starting a job application letter was to write
"I am applying for the position of doorman as advertised in the Herald Newspaper on the 1st
This is a waste of an opportunity to sell yourself and should never be used.
Instead letters have an opening statement as their first sentence.
You may have noticed that marketing or sales letters use
a powerful headline to capture the attention of the reader. In job search, the goal
for an application letter is to get an interview. Your opening statement is your
headline and if it is weak, the impact of your letter will be lost.
Marketers can afford to test different headlines in their ads or opening
statements for sales letters. You only have one shot at it.
The headline / opening statement. The problem with this
concept in an application letter is that you have to identify the position you are applying for. The job
title then becomes the first part of the letter the reader will read, which
can take away the impact of a good opening statement. So how do you
get around this?
This following method has been tested by the author who
found that most recruiters or people involved in receiving the application
in response to an advertised job, know what to expect
when they open a letter for an advertised job. They know that they will see the position
title. So psychologically they are prepared to see it in written form and
will filter it out. They just briefly recognise it like a picture. Their
brain is still open to be influenced by the opening statement. To ensure
this happens you should follow these procedures.
at this example;
Accounts Clerk to Assist the Company Accountant
For this exercise, imagine that these examples
reflect the employer's stated criteria or needs.
A few are for middle of the road jobs, to demonstrate that anyone can use
them. They become more powerful at a higher management level.
They have to, because the employer expects it. So applicants applying for
higher level positions have to really deliver and sell themselves in a
dynamic way and appropriate to the level of the position. The principles are the
same for everyone.
This is a random
example taken from the profile of our sample
resumes that can be used in an
application. You can see how easy it is to write opening statements in your
application letter for a professional
occupation if your resume has been constructed correctly.
Please note: Examples taken from
resume samples, are used for the purpose of this exercise only. Your letter should not repeat word by word what is in your resume.
If you have a good resume it may contain exactly what the employer
requires and there may be a temptation to repeat the resume in your
job application - after all, you spent hours on compiling it so it is targeted. So if the employer is looking for skills and experience that you have clearly shown in your resume, try and find different words.
Say, for example your resume states;
If you can't find anything that is better than
this statement you can say: "See my resume, demonstrating
that I have a "solid track record....."
Use this phrase verbatim only if the resume is powerful and a complete match,
and you can't improve on it without making a statement less
Personalise it by
putting "I" or in this case "I have a solid track record....." before
the sentence, or
equally, if appropriate, this second part of the sentence can be used.
For this resume statement below. you can say, I
have combined my business....
This would have been better with a measurable outcome stating what
the revenue growth was. However, the size of the company is
important. If it was a multi national company say so. If it is the
same industry as the one you are applying for then say so: This is
for a higher level manager or executive.
Here is another opening
statement based on
one of the accountabilities in the same resume. Despite the unfamiliar
wording it could easily be customised in a job application letter for another IT position. This is how it
appears in the resume.
I repeat, when taking a statement from a
resume that answers the employer's criteria to put in an application letter be sure and
personalise it and change it a bit to ensure it is not stilted.
Possible scenario for
this application letter:
Let us imagine that this company is going through organisational change
and want someone to help them to set up a branch office in a different state
or country. They need to develop systems that are compatible with head
office mainframe computer, and at the same time adhere to local standards
that differ from those required by Head Office. Now this is clearly
shown in your resume. In this scenario an
opening statement can be used, followed by a benefit statement (in red).
I created templates for
system documentation and user manuals that were adopted as an OMAM
standard within South Africa. This was part of a similar project to the
one you are undertaking. I was a valuable team member, undertaking the
Note: a benefit statement has now been given for the
The applicant has
addressed this early, by saying she has already been through the
process. So this is the benefit.
This leads logically into the
middle of the letter and will address criteria in the
Do not just paraphrase the
Examples are difficult because
each job advertisement will have its own, sometimes complex, criteria. The
applicant may be short on experience and skills, and the employer will place
importance on criteria such as organisational skills, being a good
communicator and/or a highly motivated individual.
These criteria are harder
to demonstrate. You cannot just say in your
application letter that you possess these skills. This is an extremely bad mistake
many job seekers make. It is meaningless. As I always say, a baby can communicate.
The employer wants to know your level of communication and wants
an example of how you have used your communication or maybe your
This following example
demonstrates how to address the above criteria in the opening statement.
The position is "an accounts clerk to assist the accountant".
Here is part of the job
advertisement. "This is a busy position and you will need to have good
organisational skills and work with minimum supervision."
So in a job application for and accounts clerk, your opening
statement could take in all of the above
criteria in one carefully composed sentence.
I have a
successful track record of prioritising and
accounting work flows in
a fast paced environment,
assisting the company
accountant to perform all accounting functions.
The assumption is that the bolded
words have been part of the criteria. "prioritising"
could be "able to
work with minimum supervision" or "good organisation skills",
can "controlling". "Fast paced environment"
will answer the criteria,
"a busy position".
Assisting the company
accountant of course reiterates the job title and ties this
sentence up nicely.
will then go on to complete the middle of
letter and demonstrate the rest of the skills/experiences mentioned in the
advertisement. Use point form. If nothing specific is ask for in the
advertisement (this is often the case) then mention what you know to be the
most important part of the job. Try to use one or two outcome statements if
possible. This will be discussed further on.
with opening statements, most companies want to know what you can
do for them. These are generally the outcomes shown on your
resume if it is written correctly as mentioned previously. If you are telling an
employer that you "control
accounting work flows in a fast paced environment,
you should say that you have accurate data entry skills at x words
(or figures) per minute and how it can benefit the company.
examples: In one resume I prepared, the client had
exceptional data entry skills and the employer actually eliminated
the need for casual staff at the end of the month, which was the
company's usual practice for many years. This was an outcome that
went into the resume. However, this was a specific outcome for this
client, so don't use it in your own application letter if it is not
another resume example, a good data entry person left the company
and she later found out they had to fill the position with two
people. (this is only too common). So accuracy and data entry
speed can actually be beneficial to a company and should not be
Your proficiency in the way you approach your
workload, i.e. setting priorities, streamlining systems and a skill
such as your high typing speed can create a $ benefit for
Impressions are about expectations.
An employer who is looking for an accounts clerk will not expect to see to a powerful application letter. On the other hand, an employer
advertising for a manager has higher expectations. They will expect a dynamic letter because this fits
profile of the person they want.
The position or level of
skills required is important, only insofar as the employer who receives a
strong application letter with a powerful opening statement, that is backed up with content
to reflect the employers needs, and maybe exceed them in some way, will
create a very favourable impression with the employer. Why? Because they did not expect it. The
applicant has talked
directly to the employer by addressing his/her needs and shows the promise
of being able to deliver extra benefits.
How to use effective content for maximum
After a strong opening statement the applicant will now
have to deliver the goods: Still using the Accounts Clerk
job, the applicant should now state what he/she actually did to assist the
accountant as per criteria. You must be organised for addressing each of the
this example of the whole process).
This job application sample letter shows
you how to organise your material so that you do address the criteria.
assisted the accountant by:-
Taking his suit to the
dry cleaners (feature) so he wouldn't come into work looking like he has
slept in his clothes which made him look more competent than he is.
Making him coffee (feature) so that he
could get up the energy to get off his "but" and do some work. (benefit)
Ok so don't tell the truth, but
the applicant should say what he/she did to assist him or her if you
like, run the accounting department as stated in
Note: Features and benefits is part of
Writing Using Marketing Techniques
Using another example: an accounts payable person
may do the wages, so just stating "experience in payroll", for example,
is not enough information It
needs substantiating and show the level of skill.
If any of the experience used in the application letter
was gained in a job
further back in your job history, you need to say:-
It is important that the employer can see in your resume the claims made in
the job application. The your resume will probably give these specific
duties if they are essential to the job and maybe it wont if they are low
level skills or not essential. However the resume must show that the applicant has done a similar role.
The job application should not leave any criteria unanswered or leave the
employer to try and sieve through the information. Why should they bother.
There will be other applicants who have written a better application letter.
State how the employer can benefit by employing you.
Analyse the job and
company and at the end of the letter give them something more
than their stated criteria and make sure they know that it is "over
and above" their stated criteria. This is value adding.
Example of a value added sentence.
"In addition to your stated criteria, I have assisted the
accountant by.... Here you state the accountabilities in your job that
assisted the accountant that are not in the criteria.
Stronger value added statement would be. "In
addition to your stated criteria, I can bring to the job a sound knowledge of
XYZ." (It must be relevant)
Now is the time
to close your letter.
Here you can expresses your interest in the job and ask for an
You should not go overboard or too pushy. However, you need
to let the employer
know you are very interested in the job. Say where, when and what time
are available for an interview. If this information is not provided, and
you are still in a job, an employer will be uneasy about contacting
you at work.
and Tone of
your application letter
language and tone will not be the same for an unskilled job and a
highly skilled position paying top dollars.
used by a highly skilled professional will be different to the
language used by a person with a much lower level of skill. If a professional's salary
is over, $75,000, for example, the language of the letter should
reflect a high level of writing (If required in the job, we are not
talking about high paying manual or semi skilled work or even some
trades). It should create an image of the
applicant that fits the position and salary for that
As stated before, many job seekers on a lower
skill level, make the mistake of copying example letters shown
by the thousands on the internet, or get a professional to write it. It
can create an image that is actually detrimental to your
application. Employers may get the impression
that you are too ambitious for them, or that you may not fit in.
Worse still, they can spot a professional letter at a glance and
will make an assumption based on experience, that you didn't write
it. You will lose credibility.
If you do get a professional
to write your application letter, remind them that the literacy standard should
not be the same standard of a highly paid executive. Keep the
language simple. Otherwise when you meet the employer it
will become obvious that you did not write the letter. Although we
offer these services, I strongly encourage the client to learn how
to write their own application letters.
confident but not boastful or arrogant. This applies equally to all
job seekers. If you use sales
techniques you are creating features and benefits and these are powerful in
their own right.
skills do not match your tone in your application letter you can come across as boastful or
arrogant . So you need to be careful you do not overdo the
sales pitch. Many people misunderstand sales language. It is not
about clever boastful words, it is about selling features and
There is no need for superlatives. If you answer the
client's needs using features and benefits you should be able to strike the right
features and benefits
Letter Writing Using Marketing Techniques
is a tricky one. If employers have specifically asked you to give a
salary range you must do so. Applicants should read up on the various ways
of asking for salary and put it in the end of the application letter, when
they have created interest and desire. Never in the beginning.
Let them see what you are worth.
Very big section on
and do some research or go to
Sample Job Application
Remember, in order to gain the top salary
your resume needs to be very focused and powerful because the employer may
have a salary in mind before the interview.
© Copyright Pro-Active Human Resource Management