Application Letters That Get Results

If you’re currently in the job market (especially those just out of college), heed the advice of HR experts: alma mater and influential character references are not enough. An “applicant” needs to put in due diligence into his or her cover letter and resume to raise chances of becoming a “candidate” on the way to landing that dream job.

So, what is a cover letter? It’s a letter of application that—as explained by’s Caroline Ceniza-Levine, expert career coach and the company’s co-founder—highlights and explains to the reader specific nuances of your accomplishments that your resume can’t. HR folks are pros at skimming through CVs and with an organized summary in the form of a cover letter, you make them see your worth easier.

But you have to stand out first.

Ceniza-Levine stressed that application letters “should open with an intro that catches (my) attention”, so take advantage of that first paragraph to establish a connection between you and the reader. Maybe you had the same mentor in college, or you’ve read an article that person wrote and that led you to finding this job opening? But, make no mistake, flattery won’t get you anywhere. Besides, it doesn’t even have to always concern the person. You may also start off with an interesting (i.e. relevant, current) statistic about the overall industry then segue that to that company’s own figures, positively. The key is to invite just enough curiosity that your reader will want to continue down your letter.

The middle part of the application letter conveys your strengths that can make you a desirable team member. Of course, it’s always good to do research on the company, their business, and core values. You’ll want to talk about specific experiences and achievements vis a vis your understanding of the position you want. For example, if you’re applying for a customer service job but haven’t had any professional experience. Briefly explain a time you went out of your way to help someone and you got nothing out of the whole deal. The recruiter notes your reliability in contingency situations and flexibility for volatile seasons. This part of the cover letter also illustrates how well you fit in with your initiative, resourcefulness, and analytical thinking. So, don’t digress.

Because, essentially, you’re selling yourself through the cover letter and resume, be sure to close with an effective “call to action”. By this, experts mean you have to show a bit of attitude without sounding presumptuous. A good example is “Please contact me to schedule an interview at your convenient date and time to learn more about how I can help (company) in this role.” This kind of call-to-action focuses the reader to what you want them to DO as opposed to THINK at the end of your letter.

Lastly, include your complete contact details, making sure of the number where you can actually be reached. Lots of people lose opportunities because they gave the wrong or incomplete phone number, thinking recruiters are the Interpol.