Your application letter is your chance to grab a potential employer’s attention and convey how your qualifications and work ethic make you the perfect job candidate.
The job application letter is just as vital as your CV because you can describe aspects of yourself in an application letter that you can’t in a CV, such as:
- explaining your reasons for applying
- mentioning a mutual connection
- showcasing your passion and enthusiasm for a company
- highlighting an impressive achievement
Let’s use the tips in this guide to learn how to write a strong application letter.
What is a job application letter?
A job application letter is a one-page letter accompanying your CV that describes why you’re the right fit for the job. A job application letter is also referred to as a job letter, a letter of application, or a cover letter.
Because employers have many applications to read through, your application letter should be concise. Ideally, an application letter’s length is 250–400 words or three to four paragraphs.
A well-written application letter highlights your core strengths concerning the job you’re applying for. The application letter should also change with every job you’re applying for to match the job description.
Finally, a job application letter isn’t as rigid as a CV because, unlike a CV, a job application letter conveys more of your personality and why the job personally interests you.
How to write an application letter
We’ve provided a job application letter template along with some instructions on how to format it correctly.
Application Letter Template
Below is an example of what to include in an application letter:
1. Application letter header: Open your application letter with your name in a large, bold font at the top of the page. Add your email, phone number, and other contact details under your name within the header.
2. Date: Write the date you’re writing the letter underneath your header (right-aligned) — for example, ‘14 October 2021’ or ‘14/10/2021’.
3. Employer’s name and contact details: If you know the employer’s name, state it in this section, including the company’s name and address. If you don’t have a name, use the name of the department you’re applying for or a job title like ‘Accounting Manager’.
4. Salutation: When addressing your job application letter, use ‘Dear Mr’, ‘Dear Mrs’, ‘Dear Mx’, or the name of the department or company you’re applying for. Add the recipient’s surname to the salutation to personalise your application letter. Try to avoid using ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern’ as they’re considered cliches.
5. Opening paragraph: Start your application letter by stating how you became aware of the job opening introducing your professional work history, and explaining directly why you feel you would be an ideal fit for the role.
6. Body paragraphs: In 1–2 paragraphs, expand on what you’ve built on in the first paragraph by emphasising your experience and key CV skills and relating them directly to the needs of the job.
7. Closing paragraph: Show gratitude to the employer for taking the time to read your application letter. Next, invite them to contact you through a call to action (CTA) by mentioning how grateful you’d be to receive an interview and include a phone number and email address for employers to reach you.
8. Professional sign-off: Use ‘Yours sincerely’ to close your letter if you used the recipient’s name in the salutation. If you went with the department name, use ‘Yours faithfully.’ Type or sign your name to end your job application letter. A hand-written signature is optional but looks professional and conveys how much effort you’ve put into your job application letter.
Application letter sample
Structure your job application letter as you would a regular letter, with your contact information listed at the top right of the page.
It’s also acceptable for certain cover letter templates to display your contact details in the centre of your application letter header.
Here’s an example of how a job application letter with centred contact details should look:
Dear Mr Higgens,
I’m writing to you regarding the Computer Technician role that has recently become available within your department. The job opening was referred to me on LinkedIn because of the qualifications I have in this field. Not only does my 2.1 BSc in Computer Science meet the academic requirements, but I also have over 5 years of work experience as a computer technician.
Having worked as a Computer Support Specialist for 5 years at Ivanhoe Midlands, I’m ready to prove myself in a more challenging role. During my tenure at Ivanhoe, I provided computer support to numerous departments and set up and maintained network systems. I also communicated with coworkers about security measures to prevent cyber attacks. This job required me to apply my analytical skills, and I constantly monitored network systems for weak spots. I can research your network systems accordingly, test for points of cyber attack, and take preventative action to prevent such incidents. I firmly believe these transferable skills are an excellent fit for your job opening, given the extensive focus on security and communication.
While studying for my BSc in Computer Science, I learnt how to read code and set up security systems. I also gained a CompTIA+ certificate, qualifying me to set up and maintain various security systems. If I’m given this opportunity, I can guarantee that I’ll curb the threat of cyber attacks.
If you’d like to discuss my experience further, please contact me on 07123 456 789 whenever it’s convenient to you.
I’m grateful for you taking the time to read my job application letter.
Three tips for how to write a job application letter
Below are three ways to enhance your application letter:
1. Use correct formatting
The correct formatting for your job application font size is between 10.5 points and 12 points. Smaller font sizes than 10.5 points are difficult to read, while font sizes larger than 12 points appear unprofessional.
Keep your page margins between 1.25 cm and 2.5 cm. Use a professional CV font like Times New Roman or Arial for your application letter so employers can easily read your application letter.
Also, save your job application letter as either a .docx or PDF file or according to the job description.
2. Describe your achievements with hard numbers
List your achievements with hard numbers to show employers what you’ve accomplished in previous roles.
For instance, state exactly how much profit you made at your previous job with hard numbers or how many team members you managed to give employers a clear idea of what you’ve achieved.
Using specific details to provide context convinces employers to give you an interview because you’ve given them direct insight into your successes.
3. Tailor your application letter to the job advert
With each new job application, adjust your application letter’s content depending on the job.
Companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to find the most ideal candidates, so ensure your letter by using the exact keywords you see from the job advert.
Customised descriptions of your skill sets and work history also show employers you’ve put effort into your application letter and understand what qualifications they’re looking for.
Sending an email application letter
If you’re sending an email application letter, you can omit certain sections from the text, such as the date and employer’s contact details.
You can also move your contact details to the bottom of the email to be more concise and keep the employer reading your letter.
The goal of an email application letter remains the same as a hard copy application letter because you’re conveying your expertise and work history and explaining why these aspects make you a good fit for the advertised role.
Email application letter template
Here’s an example of an email application letter that doesn’t include the date or employer’s contact information:
Dear Mr Higgins,
Having worked as a Computer Support Specialist for 5 years at Ivanhoe Midlands, I’m ready to prove myself in a more challenging role. During my tenure at Ivanhoe, I communicated with coworkers on security measures to prevent cyber attacks and provide computer support.
I firmly believe these transferable skills would be an excellent fit for your job opening, given your company’s extensive focus on security and communication.
Please contact me on 07123 456 789 if you wish to discuss the role further with me at whichever time suits you.
07123 456 789
Remember these tips when sending out an email application letter:
- list your name and the job title you’re applying for in the email’s subject line
- remove the date because the email will be automatically dated
- address the recipient accordingly, using ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’
- reduce the size of your paragraphs and be more direct
- don’t include the employer’s contact information besides their name
- state your name, email address, and phone number at the bottom of the email after signing off the email