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Job Seeker's Workshop

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* Job Applications


So, what did you think about these things that may (or may not) appear in application letters?

Here are our thoughts, comments, observations, suggestions etc

Prints name at top of letter
You name goes under your signature at the bottom of the letter.
Writes incomplete personal address at top of letter
I hope you don't want them to get in touch with you by mail. Also indicates forgetfulness!
Leaves the date off the letter
Just when did you write it? Questions what you know.
Addressed letter and envelope as told to in advertisement
Very Good - that is one of the little "tricks" they are testing for... to see if you can do what you've been instructed to do!
Letter is addressed to Personal Officer
No! The word is Personnel. And only address it to the person and position stated in the ad.
Employer's name is spelt incorrectly
FATAL ERROR! Failed the next test!
Uses "Dear Sir/Madam" when employer's name is known
How would you like someone to walk up to you in the street and say "Excuse me Sir or Madam"? Yuk!
Uses "To whom it may concern" when name or sex is unknown
See previous response. It would be better to say "Dear Sir or Madam" in this situation, or even RING the firm and find out WHO is to receive the letter (and get the spelling of their name right, O.K.?).
Does not quote such things as "Position Number" if told to
SORRY! Failed another test! ALWAYS ensure that you include ALL of the things the advertisement tells you to include!
First paragraph states reason for applying
Not the right place for this... see next point.
First paragraph states what the letter is about
Yes... this is what the first paragraph is for... to state that this is an application letter for position X.
Gives no reason why they would like the job
Oops! Don't you really want the job?
Gives a reason why they would like to work for that firm
No... this is not crawling, but ONLY try this IF YOU'VE DONE YOUR RESEARCH ON THE FIRM and know what you are talking about. Otherwise, it will sound like a half-baked lie!
Mentions that their résumé, references, etc., are attached
Standard business practice is to mention what is attached to the letter. Well done!
Does not enclose things as asked to by advertisement
STRIKE OUT! Another boo-boo!
Does not mention availability for interview
Not necessarily needed, unless you are ONLY available at certain times.
Mentions specific times and dates when available for interview
Too pushy. "I'd like to discuss this with you next Monday at 9.37am" is not going to score you too many points!
Closing paragraph doesn't "push" the reader into follow-up
The last paragraph is to close the sale. You must be a little pushy (but not too much).
Last sentence says "Thank you for your time
Why thank them for their time? It's their job! Besides, it sounds wishy-washy!
Last sentence says "Trusting you will give my application some thought
I would hope that they would give it some thought! Again, too wishy-washy!
Signs "Yours in anticipation"
Signs "Yours sincerely" when addressed to "Dear Sir/Madam"
Traditionally, you sign "Yours sincerely" when it is addressed to a name - eg "Dear Mr Jones" or Dear Mrs Jones" and you sign "Yours faithfully" when addressed to "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam".
Prints full name under signature
GOOD, especially PRINTED, but not your FULL name - just your common name - eg Terri Hatcher, not Terri Joan Margaret Hatcher!
Letter uses some of the language used in the advertisement
It is ALWAYS a good idea to try to build your letter using some of the language that the employer has used in the advertisement. It shows that you have, at least, read the advert, and perhaps that you know a little bit about what they are talking about.
It also makes it easier for them to read because they can see in your letter the things they are looking for. Also useful to think about when writing your résumé for that application as well.
Use of poorly constructed sentences which reader finds hard to understand
Obviously, not an idea good which can confuse easily the poor reader.
Not using Capital Letters in Correct Places
That Is Never a Good Idea, is IT?
Letter is two pages long
Perhaps... this is a bit too long. Depends on how much "white space" or blank space is there. Certainly, if it was two pages crammed with text - YUK! But, if you need to go to two pages (with lots of white space to make reading easier) then do it, but don't go over two pages if you can avoid it!
Letter is less than one page
Sorry... not long enough. The basic information required in an application letter should easily take up a page (with white space).
Bulk of letter is written as one complete paragraph
BORING! No white space or breaks between sections makes it too hard to read! Bad impression!
Long letter written on small stationery (paper)
WRONG! Use standard A4 sized paper.
Short letter written towards top of foolscap page
If your letter is short, spread it out over the page to give it some a look of "balance" and substance. And... what are you doing using Foolscap paper anyway? See previous point!
Letter is typed
BEST - but only if:
a. the advert didn't want it in "own handwriting",and
b. you know a good typist with a good typewriter!
Letter is handwritten
Be careful... is your handwriting THAT GOOD! Make sure however that, for those ads that ask for "handwritten" that you do your best, or in other cases it may be better to type it (see previous point).
Letter is written on ruled paper
YUK! What sort of impression can you make with that!
Letter is printed out on computer paper
DITTO... especially on the paper with little perforations down the side and across the top and bottom, or those funny light blue lines on it!
Uses fancy, coloured or ruled stationery, or uses paper with pre-punched holes or ruled margins
Uses liquid paper to correct mistakes
ONLY if you have to, otherwise, do it again... properly!
Allows one (small) spelling mistake to stay in final letter
Not fatal, but it the application looks good and it gets their attention, then BOY, will that mistake stand out!
Reference attached has spelling mistakes in it
Serious doubts on the credibility of your referee, especially if their are lots of mistooks (see wot I meen?)
References show address and occupation of referees
Necessary information. If it doesn't appear on your references, please ask your referees to re-do the reference including the information.
Sends in original copies of references, reports, etc
YOU FOOL! Chances of seeing them again, ever, are ZERO! ONLY send in GOOD QUALITY photocopies.
Attaches blurred/dirty photocopies of résumé, reference, etc
What are you trying to do? Are you trying to create a good impression or not? Blurred or dirty, yucky photocopies don't do that!
Layout of résumé shows little thought and originality
Remember, employers see 1000's of résumés, and almost ALL of them look identical.
If you want your first impression to count, your letter and résumé WILL NEED a lot of thought and originality if it is to stand out from the crowd!
Use of multi-colours in résumé for headings, underlining, etc
Might be useful - if you don't go overboard! Only use one other colour if you have too, and be consistent. Use it only in ALL the appropriate places. Once you've used it for a heading, make sure it's used in the next (similar type of) heading (personally, I don't think it's such a good idea!)
Leaves age/date of birth out of résumé
Very suspicious... just what ARE you trying to hide? Most employers need to know your age, for a whole variety of reasons.
Does not list names of referees in résumé
Again... suspicious... is there nobody who can write you one? Are you that bad a person? However, it could be genuine and you just haven't had a chance to get hold of any references before you put your résumé together. So.. if this is the case... get started now!
Encloses copy of résumé even though advertisement didn't ask for it
ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that you include your résumé, even if the ad didn't mention it. IT IS EXPECTED THAT YOU INCLUDE IT!
Pages are not stapled or held together
You want to make it hard for them, don't you? Collate your pages, line them up, staple them together! You do it! You won't score any extra points for doing it, but you'll lose a LOT of points if you don't!
Pages stapled in wrong order or not stapled evenly/tidily
See above!
Letter arrives on due date
Preferably BEFORE the due date. Arriving ON the day suggests that it was a rush job and maybe that's the way you work ALL the time. Then again... it depends on how long they gave you to do it... Maybe they are testing whether you can work to a very tight deadline...?

Have a look at some more examples.
Return to Job Applications index.