The candidate sending the application letter should keep in view the likely enormity of such requests or responses faced by the organization and make every effort to get noticed or catch attention.

The contents of the application letter apart, its packaging also makes a difference. There are any number of small details which can make a noticeable positive difference—good-quality paper, attractive presentation format, neat and error-free typing, good folding (if at all) and forceful sentences. Similarly, lack of attention to some details would mar the attention-grabbing value of the application form—shabby envelope, misspelling the name of the addressee or the organization, poor typing, illegible handwriting and pedestrian statements. Some relevant dos and don’ts have to be necessarily followed while sending the application letter and the relevant accompanying papers. Various points which have to be kept in view while sending an application letter are discussed in the following paragraphs.

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Suo Moto or In Response:

Application letters seeking jobs are essentially of two types—suomoto and in response. Application letters sent by the job seekers suomoto are those where the aspirant is sending the letter by choice and not in response to any specific advertisement or invitation.

An engineer, soon after completing graduation sends out applications to a few engineering firms without waiting for advertisements. One is hopeful that the organization is offering opportunities in keeping with one’; academic qualifications and extra-curricular activities. Similarly, an accounts clerk who has worked in a junior position for a few years has, by now, acquired additional qualifications and relevant experience in view of which the person now sends an application letter suomoto seeking an accounts officer position in another firm in the relevant industry. While sending such suomoto application letters, the candidates should make appropriate enquires, besides homework. Is the organization looking for or in need of candidates? Is the organization taking up new projects? Is the organization looking for candidates in specific functional and geographical areas? Is the candidate equipped with necessary qualifications and experience to fill the post? As far as possible, the application letter should try to identify a specific post or a functional area and not just seek any suitable post.

The second category of application letters relates to those sent in response to specific advertisements or announcements or invitations. Here the organization/advertiser has already stated the details of the job offer, the required qualifications and experience, position in the hierarchy, emoluments, place of posting and methods of selection, and the candidates have to make sure that they qualify or meet the eligibility criteria. The application letters have to clearly state how he/she is suitable for the post advertised. These application letters are not always sent directly to the organization. Quite often, the organization keeps its identity confidential and hence the advertiser would want the application letters to be sent to a specific post box address. In some cases, the selection process may be entrusted to an external recruitment agency or consultancy firm, in which case the application letters have to be addressed accordingly. In sending these application letters the candidates should strictly abide by the stipulated conditions listed in the advertisement—where and by which date to send the application, the number of pages and size of the paper, essential details to be furnished and whether testimonials need to be enclosed.

In some cases, like government and public sector organizations, there would be printed application forms, often available for a fee, and the same have to be obtained, filled in and submitted as directed.

Covering Letter:

Application letters are often accompanied by short covering letters. Application letters have to cover all relevant details as called for, or as are necessary to bring out the candidate’s strengths and merits. As a result, the letter becomes somewhat detailed. The covering letter comes in very handy and has to be specific and attractive. It could be typed on the letterhead of the candidate or any other good-quality paper to make it elegant. While the covering letter has to be properly addressed to the right person, department, advertiser or post box, the contents have to be necessarily short and sharp. Any application, as we have noted, quite often competes with numerous others for attention.

The covering letter provides an opportunity to the job-seeking candidate to make the application somewhat distinctive. Make it as appealing as you can. At least take care to see that it is not unattractive and ordinary looking.

Details to Be Covered:

An application letter presents the candidate’s profile to the organization or the recruitment agency. In order to do that effectively, the application letter has to necessarily cover all essential details about the candidate. These include:

Update Regularly:

The application letter should be updated on an ongoing basis in order to ensure that the latest details are furnished. If you were 22 years old in 2001, you would be 24 years old in 2003. If you had 6 years of experience, subsequently add two more years to it when you use it during 2003.

If you added another degree or diploma, have undergone training, got married or your present emoluments have gone up, make sure that you update these details when you send your application or bio data. More importantly, vary the emphasis or focus depending upon the post. If you are applying for the post of an officer as well as a clerk, try to vary the emphasis. Similarly, what you highlight for an operation-oriented job would be different from what you emphasize for a research job or a teaching job. In the former, you focus more on your result-oriented or strategy-oriented skills, whereas in the latter case, you talk more about academic strength and publications. Avoid straitjacketing.

Address to the Right Person:

Having taken the initiative of preparing an application and covering letter providing all relevant details in an elegant eye-catching manner, the next step is to ensure that it is addressed to the right person or authority. When the candidate is responding to an advertisement, the address to which the application is to be sent should always be clearly stated.

It could be a post box number, the recruitment agency, the selection board or any such stated authority. In contrast to this, in respect of application letters which is sent by the job seekers suomoto or on their own, extra care has to be taken to address the application/covering letter to the appropriate authority or the department. It may be the chief executive, the director (personnel), the chief of the personnel department or the specific departmental head.

If it goes to the wrong person or the department, there is always the possibility that it may lie there without getting redirected to the appropriate person or department. Ascertain the right addressee for your application letter.

Endorsing Copies:

Job seekers sending application letters must resist the temptation to send out multiple copies to the same organization. Sending the letter by courier, fax and e-mail to different departments repeatedly will certainly not help the cause of the candidate. As rightly observed by the Director of Human Resources for GE capital, Asia-Pacific, ‘Sending multiple copies of your CV bye-mail and fax, re-sending it with additions and corrections, including multiple e-mail attachments and nagging the company with follow-up phone calls can do much to hurt your chances. It is a deduction of points even before you have a chance for an interview.

’ In most organizations, the entire process is often internally well streamlined such that other departments/functionaries receiving the application redirect the same to the personnel/HR department. Sending multiple copies to different departments would ultimately mean that all such copies finally end up with the same department, which obviously is to be consciously avoided by the job seeker.