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Letter of application

When you apply for a job, most employees will read your CV first. If your CV interests them, they will go on to read your letter of application. Your letter of application is a supplement to your CV, and in it you can explain more about who you are and what your motivations are. It should not be a repeat of your CV in narrative form, but a well-written text in which you introduce yourself to your potential new employer.

Download the factsheet
Download the factsheet

Catching the reader's attention

Prospective employers often have to work their way through an enormous number of application letters, so the first sentence of your letter is more important than you may think. This sentence has to catch the reader’s attention. Dare to depart from safe and standard opening sentences such as ‘In response to your company’s vacancy for ...’ Instead, begin with a powerful one-liner that encapsulates your specialization or your ambitions. Your letter is also more likely to be noticed if the reader remembers your name because you have had contact with each other before. So by all means call a prospective employer before you send your letter, but only do so if you have a relevant question about the position.

The right approach

Prospective employers receive plenty of letters explaining why their organization would be such a great place to work, but very few explaining exactly why the applicant is suitable for the position. Obviously you need to explain why you are interested in the position, but the focus of your letter should be what you have to offer. Your CV has already demonstrated that you have the right skills and knowledge, so use the letter of application to show that you have the right motivation, vision and personality for the organization.

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Your letter of application should be tailored to the intended readers. A good letter focuses on the match between your qualities and the employer’s requirements. An even better letter is also written in a style that seamlessly matches the company’s communication style. You can check this by looking at their website. This will help you to decide whether to adopt a formal , informal, business-like or creative style. Everything you write in your application letter should be readable and interesting. It may be hard to find the right tone, but it can make all the difference. You could consider applying the AIDA structure to your letter; our factsheet explains how to do this.

Last modified:11 May 2021 2.30 p.m.
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