Application Letters

Presented by Career Services Clarion University

Purpose of a Cover Letter
• Catch the reader’s attention • Focus on the employer’s needs • Persuade the reader of your benefits or value • Convince the reader with evidence • Move the reader to follow-up with you …interview you!

Before you begin to write….
• What are the needs of my audience?
– Research the employer and position – Analyze the job description for knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences required – Make a table
• Employer’s needs vs. your qualifications

Before you begin to write…
• What benefits will my audience gain from me?
– Create a list of your knowledge, accomplishments, skills, and experience – Select the qualifications that relate to the needs of the job to emphasize in your cover letter

Targeting Employer Needs
• Employer needs
– Budget experience – Accounting coursework – Computer literacy – Community service

• Your qualifications
– Treasurer, Accounting Club – Accounting major – Specific software – Volunteer for Special Olympics

Types of Cover Letters
• • • Letters responding to existing openings Letters mentioning a name or connection
– Networking or referral letters)

Letters inquiring about possible openings
– As a result of research of organization

Letter Writing Tips
• Address your letters to individuals. Use names. • Mention your contacts or connections • State your objective in the first paragraph
– Employer: “Why are you writing to me?”

• Emphasize your skills

Tips (continued)
• Quantify your accomplishments
– In numbers, dollars, or percentages

• Focus on the employer’s needs • Research the organization and exhibit your knowledge in the letter • Use jargon or terms from your career field or “industry”

Tips (cont.)
• Mention something that sets you apart from others • Accent your strengths…don’t apologize for limitations • Don’t oversell or fib about your qualifications • Be professional • Show intent to follow up.

• Limit your letter to one page • Make your letter easy to read
– One-inch margins – Simple fonts – Good visual organization

• Use business stationery matching your resume paper

Format (cont.)
• Organize your information
– Opening paragraph – “Qualifications” paragraph/s – Closing paragraph

• Use standard business-letter format • Proofread…proofread…proofread!

Content – 1st paragraph
• Tell the reader why you are writing
– Are you applying to an advertised or existing opening? – Are you writing to inquire about available positions? – Did someone refer you to the reader or organization?

• Indicate how your learned of the position and/or organization

Example 1
I am applying for the analytical chemist position that was advertised in the March issue of the American Chemical Society newsletter. I am interested in research and development and would like to relocate to the Philadelphia area.

Example 2
I noticed your school’s listing in the AAEE Directory of Public School Systems. I am interested in moving to the Richmond area, and I am seeking employment with school systems there. I hope you can assist me.

Content – 2nd paragraph
• Explain why you have targeted this particular organization • Stress what your have to offer • Identify the parts of your experience (paid or non-paid) that relate to position
– Course work or special class projects – Campus activities – Internships or field experiences

2nd paragraph (cont.)
• Demonstrate your understanding of the position’s duties • State how your qualifications fit the position

Content – 3rd paragraph
• Request an interview appointment, or tell the reader that you will contact him/her soon in order to see if you can schedule a mutually convenient appointment. • Indicate when you would be available for an interview.

3 paragraph (cont.)

• Include information on how the reader can easily contact you. • Thank the reader for his/her time and consideration.

Letter “Do’s”
• Write an original letter for each employer and position • Proofread for typos • Run Spell Check on your computer before you print your final copy • Have someone else proof read your letter

“Do’s” (cont.)
• Type or computer print envelopes • Keep photocopies of all materials for your records

• Use standard 8.5” x 11” paper • Select 20 lb. bond paper in white or ivory to match your resume • Follow standard business letter format • Limit your letter to one page • Keep a one-inch margin on all four sides of the page • Single space between paragraphs

• A free handout on cover letter writing
– Online at

• Books with sample cover letters • A three-ring binder with sample cover letters written by Clarion graduates • Staff members who can review a rough draft of your application letter • Computers with Microsoft Word and a laser printer
– Please bring your own paper

Additional questions?
• The Career Services staff will be happy to respond to your application or cover letter questions. • Contact us at 814-393-2323 or visit 114 Egbert Hall to schedule an appointment.