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Definition of an Application Letter

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An application letter is merely another name for a cover letter, the official business letter often included with a job application and/or resume and sent to a prospective employer. Although application letters are generally considered optional components of applying for a job, more and more frequently, employers are singling out those who actually take the time to write an application letter as their top picks. Here are a few components of a typical, successful application letter:

Professional Style

Application letters are usually, and should always, be in an officer letter style, like block style. These letters should be formatted properly and checked for spelling and grammatical errors.


Although many application letters open with a simple "Sir or Madam:", the more successful application letters are addressed personally to the hiring manager (which often takes some research on the part of the job applicant).


The body of a good application letter, usually 3 to 4 paragraphs, explains why the applicant is a good fit for the job, explains relevant experience, and shows how that experience would be useful if selected for the career opportunity.


An application letter is rarely sent to a prospective employer alone. It is usually accompanied by a resume, salary history, list of references, and/or other documentation of achievements.


Application letters are generally no more than one page in length. Employers are unimpressed by application letters of half a page or less, though; filling most of one page is the safest way to complete an application letter.


An entrepreneur, author, and consultant, Jim Lemoine is currently a Fellow with TRI Leadership Resources, a global consulting, training, and management organization. He has written over 50 syndicated columns on a variety of topics including marketing and management, and has published a book, Business Defined. Lemoine holds an advanced degree from LSU and is a member of MENSA.

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