Application Letter

An application letter--or "cover letter"--normally accompanies a resume when a resume is mailed or faxed to a prospective employer. Even when an announcement says "Fax your resume," an application letter should accompany it. An application letter is necessary because of the nature of the resume: the resume provides an employer with a picture of your qualifications for a general kind of job or line of work. Applicants often send out the same resume to many different employers. The application letter, however, is written for a particular position with a particular organization that has advertised or announced an opening. (Letters written to organizations that have not announced openings are called "prospecting" letters; I am not interested in them for this assignment.)

A writer must try in an application letter to highlight those qualifications that make him/her a particularly good candidate for a specific job with a specific organization and to demonstrate a real interest in becoming a member of the organization. The application letter is written, always keep in mind, from one real person to another, and an employer wants to know why an applicant is interested in working for him/her especially. So reasons for applying for a specific position at a particular organization should be included to specify and personalize the application.

There are a number of options students may take to fulfill this assignment. If a student is graduating within a quarter or two, then he/she may look for an appropriate entry-level job that might be of interest upon graduation. Students who are not near graduation must be realistic and find announcements for part-time or full-time work they are qualified for now, internships, or co-ops. Other options include applications/essays for graduate school and law school. If a student knows of an opening that is unannounced, a brief description of the position must be included with the application letter. Otherwise, students must include with their letters a copy of the announcement or a copy of the graduate school question to which they have responded.

Here are a few words of advice on the application letter in terms of SCAMP: