Job Application Letter Format and Writing Tips
A job application letter (also known as a cover letter) is a letter you send with your resume to provide information on your skills and experience. This letter is your chance to “sell” yourself to an employer, explaining why you are an ideal candidate for a position.
It's important that your application letter is formatted properly and free from errors. Recruiters and hiring managers will notice if you do not follow the standard guidelines for writing the letter – or if it's full of typos and mistakes.
Tips for Writing a Job Application Letter
Do not copy your resume. A cover letter is a sales pitch. The purpose of this letter is to convince the hiring manager that you’re a strong candidate and to highlight your relevant experience and abilities. Your application letter should show how exactly your background makes you a good fit for a particular position. In contrast, your resume is a general record of your experience, education, and accomplishments.
Tailor each application letter to the job. As mentioned above, emphasize in your letter why you are an ideal candidate for the specific job. This requires that you personalize each letter to fit the company and position. Match your qualifications to the job posting by highlighting the skills, experience, and qualifications listed in the description.
Be professional. Application letters have a fairly rigid format — as hiring managers read your letter, they will expect to see certain information included in set areas. You have freedom within the structure to be personable, but it is important to stick to a certain level of formality. Pay particular attention to the professionalism of your salutation. You wouldn't, for instance, want to refer to the letter's recipient by their first name unless specifically requested.
Carefully proofread. Employers are likely to overlook an application with a lot of errors. Therefore, read through your cover letter, and even consider asking a friend or career counselor to read the letter. Proofread for grammar and spelling errors. Be particularly mindful to spell the letter recipient's name correctly, as well as the company name.
Follow business letter format. Use business letter format when writing your letter. This varies slightly depending on how you are sending your letter – through email or as a hard copy.
Since your application letter will be accompanied by your resume, make sure the letter does not duplicate your resume exactly.
Hard Copy Letter vs. Email
The formatting information below is for a hard copy, printed out letter. If you are sending an email application letter, the structure is quite similar, although there are a few important differences.
The main difference in formatting an email application letter is that you need to include a subject line that clearly lays out your purpose for writing, e.g. “Graphic Designer-Joe Smith.” And, instead of placing your contact information at the top of the letter, as you would in a hard copy, you'll include it below your signature.
Job Application Letter Format
Use this formatting information as a guideline when writing your customized application letters, so you know what information goes where.
City, State Zip Code
Employer Contact Information (if you have it)
City, State Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name, (leave out if you don't have a contact)
Body of Application Letter
The body of your application letter lets the employer know what position you are applying for, why the employer should select you for an interview, and how you will follow up. See below for a paragraph-by-paragraph breakdown of the body of the letter.
The first paragraph of your letter should include information on why you are writing. Mention the job you are applying for and where you found the job listing. Include the name of a mutual contact, if you have one. You might conclude by briefly and concisely saying why you think you are an ideal candidate for the job.
The next section of your application letter should describe what you have to offer the employer.
It can be a single paragraph, or you can break it up into a couple of paragraphs. If the section gets lengthy, you may use bullet points to break up the text. Remember, you are interpreting your resume, not repeating it.
Mention specifically how your qualifications match the job you are applying for. In this portion of the letter, make your case for your candidacy.
It can be helpful to spend some time researching the company — this knowledge and insight helps you make an informed and persuasive argument for your candidacy.
Use specific examples whenever possible. For example, if you say that you have lots of experience working successfully on team projects, provide an example of a time you worked in a group and achieved success.
Conclude your application letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow up.
Complimentary Close (examples)
Signature (for a hard copy letter)
Job Application Letter Template
This is a job application letter example. Download the job application letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Job Application Letter Example (Text Version)
11 South Street
Harbor View, Maine 04005
April 28, 2018
Human Resources Director
Avery Solutions, Inc.
700 Commerce Way
Harbor View, Maine 04005
Dear Mr. Rivera,
I was excited when my former colleague, Stephanie Taylor, told me that you were hiring for a Human Resources Specialist at Avery Solutions.
Stephanie has told me how important teamwork is to your group at Avery, and how much you need an HR Specialist who can fit in with the department and hit the ground running on day one. I believe that I am the ideal candidate for your team.
In my current job at Smith Group, I created and run our onboarding program, including organizing background checks and new hire orientation. I also have extensive experience in:
- Data reporting/data entry on HRIS software
- Recruiting and hiring processes, including creating job descriptions and postings, screening resumes, and scheduling interviews
- Producing company events, such as the annual company-wide picnic (100+ employees from across the country)
I’d love to speak with you about my qualifications and what I can do for your team. I’ve attached my resume for your consideration. Please don’t hesitate to contact me on my cell at 555-555-5555 with questions or to arrange an interview.
How to Get Your Application Noticed
Don’t copy your resume: Your job application letter is a sales pitch. Don’t regurgitate your resume; instead, use this document to sell the hiring manager on your skills.
Tailor your application letter to the job: Match your skills and qualifications to the job description, highlighting those that make you an ideal candidate.
Be professional: Use business letter format and be sure to proofread your letter before you send.