Tuesday, March 20, 2007

writing an effective application letter

It's another season of harvest---thousands of college graduates will march out of school to find their niche in the world and the race begins. Usually those seeking for employment will be asked to submit an application letter together with a resume. If there are three hundred interested applicants for a single position, there will be a total of 300 application letters all aiming to catch the interest of the prospective employer. Which letters will gain favorable attention and which ones will be junked? If you were an applicant, how do you want the reader to treat your letter? The answers to these questions depend on how well you have written your application letter.

The first step to do before writing that crucial letter is to ask yourself this question: What is my purpose of writing this letter? I could almost hear you say, "to get a job". But that is not the real aim of the application letter. The real role of the employment or application letter is for you to be granted an interview---that is, if your letter is well written and convincing enough to attract the attention of the prospective employer who should schedule you for an interview. However, if the letter is poorly written, meaning, it is merely copied from someone else's letter and is therefore laden with cliches and not specific about your goals and achievements, then you lose the opportunity to sell yourself during a face-to-face interview. It is important therefore to write your application letter with much care and thought.

First, make an assessment of your personal characteristics, your assets or positive characteristics that will make you a valuable new hire. In other words, what have you got to deserve the post you want? Take note of these top selling traits and use them in your application letter. Remember, an application letter is much like a sales letter in which the product you are marketing is you. And before you can market anything, you need to know the product very well. After taking stock of your potentials, be ready to know which companies will need your services. Then be very clear about the kind of work you want to do. Do not just state "any position". That shows weakness on your part because it means you don't know what you want. Be specific with the kind of work that you can do and want to do. Use this to start your letter along with your top three assets or selling points. Then after stating the position you are seeking and your capabilities, move on to the second paragraph and explain what you mentioned in the first paragraph. State your academic preparation, your experiences in school which have prepared you to tackle future responsibilities. Since you are explaining your academic training and experiences on the second paragaph, it is understood that this should be the longest of the 3 paragraphs your application letter should contain. The third and last paragraph will seek for action from the reader. Do not say " I am hoping for your reply" or "I will be waiting for your call", because they sound weak and are downright cliches. What do you want your reader to do after reading your letter? Of course, you would like him or her to schedule you for an interview by giving you a call or sending you a telegram or an e-mail to that effect. The last part of your letter should make it easy for the reader to get in touch with you by telling him how you can be reached and what you would like to happen after that.

No comments: