THE LETTER OF APPLICATION
A letter of application should accompany your CV, and these two items form a package. The letter has a number of purposes:
It allows you to sell yourself by pointing out key features of your CV.
It gives you the opportunity to include material that is not in the CV, especially personal qualities that you listed when making your preparations.
It shows a prospective employer that you know how to write a letter. While this may be of decreasing importance in an electronic age, many employers still value it highly, both as a skill in its own right and as a test of your ability to communicate clearly and effectively.
Some employers may be flooded with a stack of a hundred or more CVs on any given day. In such situations, getting an interview can represent a major breakthrough for the job applicant. The job application letter you write can and should be used to substitute for that all-important interview that you may not otherwise get, regardless of your qualifications. So, construct it wisely. CVs at best put forth only a rather simple table of data depicting your past work history and educational background for a potential employer's scrutiny. Lacking in a CV are many of the individual nuances important to employers regarding the people they are about to add to their organisation. Surveys of personnel directors of the five-hundred largest organisations show that the vast majority (over 80%) have agreed or strongly agree that they want to know the following:
Your personality: what you are like and what you will be like as an employee? 2 -
Why have you chosen to apply for employment with this particular company? 3 -
What job are you specifically seeking?
What makes you feel that your education or past experience relates to that job?
PLANNING YOUR JOB APPLICATION LETTER:
Think of your job application letter as being constructed of three parts: the introduction, body, and conclusion. The purpose of the introduction is to specify why you are writing and to say a few things about yourself, such as, where you are going to school and your major. The introduction gives you the opportunity to praise to the company for some specific quality it possess. This praise can serve to answer the silent question as to why you have chosen their company and also allows you to subtly display a personality technique that most people enjoy greatly, the ability to convey the feeling "I know you and I like you." Caution though, praise must be specific because general praise has a tendency to sound insincere. The best line of praise should be to something in the company directly related to your line of work, for example if you have been to a company presentation - say what you liked about it and what was relevant or of you've been to their web site. Sometimes uncovering these facts can require a bit of research and please remember to learn the name and position of your intended reader. However, this little bit of extra work may be enough to get you an interview.
The body of your letter should be used to answer any questions your employer might have about how you feel that your education and background are relevant to the job you are seeking. Here you want to draw connections from your past experience and education to the specific skills required for the job you are seeking. For industrial placements you should also highlight why you think this will benefit you personally. Show you are willing to learn new things and demonstrate why you think work experience will be valuable as part of your degree programme.
In planning your letter's conclusion you must decide exactly how you intend to follow up your letter. Will you call within a specified period of time or will you await a telephone call or letter? You must bring the letter to a cordial but brief close. You must sound confident, yet never pushy. Remember the letter you are sending along with your personal resume...
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