When applying for a job you are competing against a lot of other people. It is important that your application makes an impression and stands out from the others. A properly presented and prepared cover letter and correctly filled in application form will help you.
Applying for a job that has been advertised
If you want to apply for a job and you are asked to apply in writing, have a look at the following example. It shows the vacancy, the points to look for and a suggested letter. If your application is in audio format, contact the company beforehand so they expect your application in an alternative format. They can then make preparations to review it.
Job vacancy - an example
In this example, you have seen the following job advertised and you want to apply:
Westfords Ltd. Require IT Support Officers 40 hours per week – 8.45 am to 5.15 pm. Photo ID personalisation and smart card encoding company are seeking IT support officers. Responsibilities include upkeep of computers and in-house software and quality assurance of products. Must have experience with computers. Knowledge of printers preferred but not essential as full training given. Apply in writing with a covering letter and CV to:
Mr Knight Westfords Ltd 500 Sample Street Sample Town LZX 1XX
Identifying important information in the advert
The following is the important information contained in the advert.
The company Westfords Ltd. You could look at their website to learn more about the company. If they don't have a website you might be able to find information at your local library. This research might help you to write your application.
Job title and duties
- IT Support Officer
- upkeep of computers and in-house software
- checking consumables and in-house software
- quality assurance of finished products
Qualifications and skills needed
- must have experience with computers
- printer experience preferred but not essential as full training will be given
- no rate given - ring to check
- 40 hours per week: Monday to Friday 8.45 am – 5.15 pm
How to apply
- in writing - with a covering letter and a CV
Writing a covering letter
What to include
Underline the skills in the advert. Write a rough copy of your letter and include the skills underlined. Be positive and emphasise why you are perfect for the job. You should include any relevant skills you have.
First, give a summary of your skills and experience. Keep it brief and to the point. Then, say when you will be free for an interview. Remember to include your name, address, phone number (if you have one), the date and enclose a copy of your CV.
What to say
Be clear. Don’t use a long word if a short one will do. If you have been unemployed for a while, say how you spend your spare time (for example, by doing voluntary work, study and so on). Be honest, don’t say you enjoy bungee jumping if you get dizzy standing on a stool, you will get caught out at an interview. Keep to the facts and try not to oversell yourself.
How to say it
Include the job reference number if there is one in the job details. Enter it below the opening line. For example:
Dear Mrs…… Re: Job reference 345
Try to find out the name of the person you need to write to. If you start with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, end with ‘Yours faithfully’. If you start with the person’s name (for example, ‘Dear Mrs Smith’, end with ‘Yours sincerely’. Finally, double-check your spelling and grammar before sending the letter.
How the letter looks
Be neat, whether your letter is handwritten or typed. Leave plenty of space around the edges and a clear space between each paragraph. Use good quality plain paper and envelopes. Check against your rough copy to make sure you have not missed anything. If your application is in audio format check that the content is clear, to the point and easy to understand.
Sign the letter and print your name underneath to make sure it can be read easily. Ask a friend or relative to check over your letter before you send it. Finally, make sure your application arrives on time. If you are posting it, allow for delays. If your application is late, the company might not even consider it and your time will have been wasted.
Cover letter - an example
Follow the link below to see an example cover letter you could send in response to the job Westfords Ltd had advertised.
Filling in application forms
Some job adverts will ask you to fill in an application form. You may need to contact the employer to get a copy of the application form. If you need to fill in a Jobcentre Plus application form, you can get this from your nearest Jobcentre Plus office. You can also download it using the link below.
Here are some tips on filling in application forms:
- always check the instructions for filling in the application form - for example: whether you have to write in capitals or fill in the form in black ink only
- spell the name of the company correctly
- prepare a draft of the application form and then transfer the information to the actual form - if you’re filling it in by hand
- read over the job advert again and make sure the information you include on the form is relevant
- answer all questions and fill in all the boxes
- if there are gaps in your employment history say what you were doing during that time - for example: bringing up your children or working as a volunteer for a charity
- include skills that you have developed outside work
- ask a friend or relative to check your application form before you send it
Further help and advice
You can also download the Jobcentre Plus 'Letters and application forms' factsheet below.