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What to write an application letter for a job

Application letter

Writing an application letter, especially in the digitalized age can seem cumbersome and impossible, but with a few easy steps, you can originally highlight your strengths and present yourself as the best person for the job.  Your application letter when coupled with a killer resume would give you an added advantage over other applicants. This article will shed more light on how to write an application letter for a job in Nigeria.

What is an application letter?

An application letter, equally known as a cover letter is a document (preferably one paged document) that is submitted to express and indicate interest in an open position. Your application letter is an open window through which your potential employer can instantly access your skills, personality, and principles, so making a first good impression is important.

Before we go ahead, let’s examine quickly the importance of having a good application letter.

  1. Initial Impression is given:

With a compelling and well-written application letter, you give yourself a  bonus point in creating a memorable first impression with your potential employer. Are you a person who pays attention to details? Highlight it in your application letter practically. This gives extra backing to your claim aside from your references.

  • Personality Fit:

If a word best summarizes the essence of an application letter, then the word “personality fit” can be it. More often than anything, Employers and Recruiters are hiring for personality and attitude than degrees and certifications. They want to know “can you be a great fit for the company? Do your values align with their values?” These matter to more companies now than ever before. Thus, conveying your authentic self is the very essence of an application letter.

  • Highlights specific strengths and skills needed for the Job:

With a compelling application letter, you are able to highlight specifically your skills that meet the demanded skills on the job description. If you equally want to go a step further, you are able to present your weaknesses as an added advantage to the company. Here’s an example. “While I do have two years of experience which is significantly less than the required 5-year experience as stated in the Job description, I am able to bring a fresh perspective of preciseness and rapt attention to details, flowing from my further experience in the banking sector where I was in charge of accounts.

  • You are given the opportunity to argue for yourself and why the Job should be given to you:

With a simple resume, you present just your skills and experience, but with a compelling application letter, you are given the opportunity to become an eloquent lawyer, arguing favorably in your own case. With such an opportunity, you have more power to express yourself uniquely.

  • You are allowed to share the research you have done on the company via your cover letter:

With a compelling application letter, you are allowed to show off your knowledge and the research you have done on the company and present yourself as a better option for them by presenting your skills as the best solution for their pain points.

Now, moving ahead, Here’s how to create a compelling application letter for yourself.

  1. Do your in-depth research about the company and the position you are applying for:

While this seems stressful, remember this, you stand a better chance of winning a battle by having knowledge of your opponent than by going in blindly. You stand a better chance of actually getting the position when you arm yourself with detailed knowledge of the company and the position that is open.

  • Address their pain point and state how your skills are the best fit for it:

Identify the pain point of the company and why the position is open and most importantly, how your skill is best suited for the job/position. A company hiring for the position of social media manager has the pain point of creating a successful brand presence online. They are not looking for a graphic designer or web designer, though those skills would be a plus, especially in small businesses. Share proof, i.e practical proof if you are applying for the position of a social media manager of how you have built either your personal social media or a corporate social media more than your degree in social media and similar certifications.

  • Place the focus on them (The Company) not you.

Now, this can be quite tricky to achieve but if carried out effectively, you would have an increased advantage. Find a way to put all the focus on the company, not on yourself. Many applicants for the same position would be busy highlighting their skills and qualifications without focusing on the company. But you can do both. Here’s a practical example.

“Scrolling through your company’s profile, I noticed that your company content while interesting is not interactive enough or invites the audience to even engage with it. Over the years, I have built a solid base of actively interacting with the audience rather than just pushing out content to them (Kindly find attached in my resume my certification from … on this” 

Can you see how effectively I presented my certification while placing the full focus on them? The impact of my certification further lends credence to my claim earlier. If you can pull this off effectively, it gives you an added advantage than just saying “I have a certification from …”

  • Keep it concise and precise.

No one appreciates a wordy cover letter. Not only do you save time for yourself and the company, You equally give an opportunity for the relevant facts to be seen immediately. Keep it short, remove irrelevant details, and be straight to the point.

  • Share essential qualifications and achievements and always find a way to relate them as a benefit for the company.

Share your essential achievements and qualifications. Received a recommendation or medal for teamwork? Share it and relate it to how a great team player you are and how beneficial it would be to the company to increase teamwork. The cover letter does not really need to contain how you were the class president in 5th grade. However, do note that it can come in handy as an example of Leadership skills in oral interviews.

Here are some strict Do’s and Don’ts in creating a compelling application letter

  1. include your contact details under the heading of your name.

You must ensure you include your contact details through which the company can reach out to you. Your contact details as such 

  • Your Name (First and Last)
  • Your Email Address (It’s preferably wise to use your professional email address for this, not [email protected])
  • Your Phone Number (Attaching one is enough, Two look desperate)
  • Your Website or Portfolio  (Not Compulsory)
  • Your Linkedin and/or Twitter Link (Not Compulsory)
  • Your Mailing Address (Not Compulsory)
  • Include the Information of the person you are addressing it to and the Company’s Address.
  • The name (First and Last) of the Hiring Manager. (Most often, this is attached to the Job Description or a quick search on LinkedIn or send a quick email to the Human Resources department to ask for the name of the Hiring Manager. If none of these work, Address the Email with the generic “Dear Sir or Madam”
  • Attach the company’s name and address.
  • Do present yourself in a positive light.

Downgrading or being humble does no good at this point. Blow your trumpet. Own your achievements. You need them to see you as the best option available.

  • Be captivating in your Introduction.

A poorly written introduction simply dulls the expectations. Try to be as captivating as you can. Without exaggerating, state the best part of your skills, achievements, and results. Make them curious to read more about you and possibly want to work with you.

  • Include the specific Keywords contained in the Job description.

Do they want a successful team player who is empathetic and has Leadership skills? Attach the keywords to your application letter. The keywords give your application a better chance to stand out if it is to be processed by computer software or even manually. 

It equally presents you as the ideal candidate for the Job as your skills would seem to fit exactly what they are looking for.  

  • Do break down your application letter into paragraphs and sections.

This would allow your interviewer to easily read and grasp the important parts immediately and presents you as an organized and detail-oriented person.

The Don’ts of writing an application letter. These are crucial mistakes you should avoid at all costs.

  1. Don’t summarize your resume as an application letter.

No one needs a summarization of your resume again. Try to present yourself in a new light when writing your application letter.

  • Avoid grammatical errors at all costs. Use Grammarly as means to check the accuracy of your grammar.
  • Avoid Dishonesty. This would outrightly eliminate every chance or shot you had at the Job.

State specifically what you have and don’t input more than what you have.

  • Avoid exaggeration.

Exaggerating would put you out rightly at a disadvantage. Exaggerating your awards, achievements even the parts you played in bringing about the desired outcome would be a disadvantage to your chances of actually getting the job or position.

  • Avoid being wordy,

Being wordy puts you at a disadvantage as your relevant and essential details would get lost in the crowd of irrelevant information. Stick to your main and important points only.

  • Don’t add skills you don’t have.

Adding skills you don’t have makes you look incompetent and insecure about the ones you have, asides you being dishonest about the skills and experiences you don’t have.  

Here are additional tips you can use in creating a compelling application letter

  1. Ensure you stress your skills and experiences over your educational qualification.

Especially if it has been over five years since you have graduated from school, stress your experiences and skills, both hard and soft skills you have acquired over the years rather than your academic qualifications.

  • Include Figures to effectively convey your point

Include figures where available to further buttress your point. A statement like “ I helped my company increase its revenue by 23.6% sounds better than I contributed and increased the output and revenue of the company”

  • Convey your story rather than writing generic content

Your story makes you stand out as an identity, not a Jobseeker. It helps your potential employer relate to you as a person rather than another job applicant.

  • Convey your enthusiasm and passion for the Job/Position.

Is it your dream job or passion? No need to sound as if you don’t care or sound monotonous about it. Convey how excited you are about the Job. Share in your application how you have prepared for it and the steps you have taken in preparation for it. It makes you relatable as a person.

  • Be Professional in your tone.

While it is important to write like you, lol as they would be getting you, it is equally expedient that you maintain a courteous, polite, and professional tone. You are not writing to a co-worker or friend. 

  • Speak of the Future that you see with the company.

Your resume already speaks of the present, i.e your current level of skills and experience. It would be a fresh perspective if you can include your expectations of the future and the major milestones you intend to achieve.

  • Close your cover letter formally.

Just as how important your introduction is to your cover letter, closing on a strong note is equally crucial in order for your letter to leave a strong and lasting impression behind. Close with a CTA (Call to Action). However, it should not be an aggressive call to action, but rather a soft and polite invitation to receive feedback.

While creating a compelling application letter seems like an impossible task, it is easier when you are being original & authentic while putting forward your best foot.

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