Job application letter

Click here to download a printer friendly version of this article.

How to SELL yourself

The job application cover letter is probably the most important sales letter you’ll write. It is the first point of contact with a potential employer, and an opportunity for you to make a good first impression – and everyone knows how important it is to make a good first impression!

Use these questions, and learn to write a cover letter that SELLS.

Q1: What skills, experience and competencies are most important to the recruiter?

 You do not want to bore recruiters by telling them as much about you as possible.

Recruiters are interested in what you can do for them – and they want you to do it quickly! You need to pinpoint the areas they will be interested in.

Q2: What should be included in the cover letter’s introduction?

The introduction should clearly state the position you are applying for and the advertisement source. Include a brief summary of why you are a top candidate for the position, without actually saying you are a top candidate. 

Do so by using the gold mentioned before, and specific details that prove the point. Specifics are always more compelling than generalities, and the objective is to get the reader eager to learn more about YOU.

The introductory paragraph is a preview of the rest of the letter (which itself is a preview of your resume). You may want to write the body of the document first, and then write the introduction. That way, you will be sure that you include vital details mentioned in the body, and that it is done in the correct order

Q3: What should be included in the cover letter’s body?

This is the area that is your sales pitch. You want to   provide an image of yourself as someone worth hiring. 

Do that by demonstrating how your track record, skills and competencies meet their requirements.

Use specific examples, real experiences and achievements. Do not leave a claim unsubstantiated, and avoid make sweeping statements.

To help you gather the information you’ll need to write the cover letter, for each requirement ask yourself the following questions.

  • What have I done in the past to indicate past performance in this skill/competency?
  • What position was I in at the time, for how long and in what industry?
  • How did my performance and achievements benefit my employer?
  • How was success measured?

On a more general note, ask yourself these questions.

  • How could I help achieve the employing company’s vision or goals?
  • What are the four reasons I am a perfect candidate for the job?
  • What have been the highlights of my career to date?
  • What are my key strengths for the position?

By the end of this activity, you’ll have a good idea of what to include in the body of your cover letter.

It is now a matter of arranging the requirements in order of priority, and carefully wording the material to provide the image you want to portray.

Q4: What should be included in the cover letter’s closing?

The closing should express your strong interest in the position, a direct request for an interview and specific details on how the recruiter can contact you. 

 

THE ADVERTISEMENT

Begin by highlighting the skills, competencies and experience referred to in the advertisement. These will give you what the recruiter is looking for, and the areas you need to concentrate on in your letter. Ask yourself the following questions. 

  • What are the most important skills, experience and competencies outlined in the advertisement?
     
  • What is the apparent order of importance?
 

THE RESEARCH

Do some research to find out more about what the recruiter could be looking for that isn’t necessarily in the advertisement.

Ask yourself the following questions. 

  • What is the company’s vision for the future, past performance, goals and culture?
     
  • What other skills/competencies are required for this type of position?