How to Write a Job Winning Application Letter

Have you written endless job application forms and still no success? This article here could be of help as the search for a job in 2022 intensifies.

It is the time of the year when we make resolutions, some of which could be getting a new job. Some are out of work not because of their own making but because of the effects of the long lockdown. Writing application letters can be a daunting task and in most cases ends in despair. Nothing is as painful as not getting feedback from a prospective employer. I remember last year, I wrote to the New Vision through their Guest Writer email but I have never received a reply from an institution that makes us believe in transparency and professionalism. If we received replies, perhaps we could learn from mistakes in previous attempts and therefore improve – but that is not the case in Uganda.

As teachers especially in private schools, it is around this time that we are asked by even our own employers to re-apply. I can imagine the confusion one goes through when you see an advert on social media calling for applications in a subject you teach posted by the same school you serve. But you are not alone. I for one applied for teaching jobs for four years from 2004 to 2007 without success. That frustration is what gave birth to my hustle (E-zone Internet cafe and E-zone School of Computing) when I gave up on applying for jobs.

It is now out of experience that I write this simple guide to help our young brothers and sisters out there with the hope that this year their job search becomes easier.

The sections of an application letter

Sometimes we make mistakes when writing application letters when we leave out some sections of what is regarded as a standard letter. It is good to include all the sections since the application letter covers the gaps that an employer may need just in case they don’t read your CV. This letter must explain in brief about you and why you think you are the best candidate. In case that a prospective employer reads it, they are tempted to visit your CV and gradually an invitation for an interview. The following should be included in your letter.

  • Your address
  • The date of writing the letter
  • Prospective employer’s details
  • Salutation
  • Ref with position detail
  • An introductory paragraph explaining the purpose of the letter
  • A paragraph describing your skills that meet the job you are applying for
  • A paragraph describing any other skills that may be of help
  • A paragraph about personal attributes
  • A conclusion stating your availability for an interview or further inquiries about you
  • Your salutation

Choice of fonts, font size and font color

While word processors have a variety of fonts, it is important to to stick to basic fonts when writing an application letter. Curly and fancy fonts may look cool to you but are a big turn off in the eyes of prospective employers. Personally, I have found fonts like Calibri, Century Gothic, Times New Roman and Tahoma good enough. It is advisable to avoid fonts like Brush Script MT, Cooper Black, Comic Sans, Algerian e.t.c.

The size of fonts would be ideal if it is between 11 and 14. Font sizes below 11 will give most people a hard time to read while those above 14 make the document appear more of a poster than an official letter.

Finally, stick to black for font color. Anything outside that is a big no.

Keep your letter brief.

Imagine you are an employer and you have hundred of letters to read through before you make a choice. How hectic it would be to read through a 2 or 3 page application dozens of times. Chances are that in the midst of this variety, employers will prefer to go through one page documents while looking for information that best suits the type of candidate they wish to employ.

I strongly advise to put all the best of your experience, skills and competencies in a one page letter that will quickly catch the eye of your prospective boss. However, being brief does not mean creating a document that doesn’t bring out the best in you. Some people are too brief that they will only write 2 paragraphs, 1 asking for the job and the second hoping for a positive reply. In this case, no employer takes you serious.

Avoid slang

The use of slang in our day to day communication should not overrun you and apply it in an application letter. You have to use as much good English as is acceptable, after all, you have spent atleast 15 years under classes whose main mode of instruction is in English.

You don’t have an excuse for writing broken English neither should you use street language in formal communication.

Ask someone to proof read for you

We can’t know it all even when we are talking about ourselves. It is therefore good if you could get someone more experienced than you to go through your application letter. There could be a few details to polish before sending it to a prospective employer.

Sample application letter

After all is said and one, it is now time to have a look at what an application letter should actually look like.

One more tip! Do some research about the school and job

While writing an application letter to a prospective employer, it is good if you made some background search about the institution. Including a small detail about them like I did in the second last paragraph of my sample will certainly put you among the top candidates to invite for an interview.

Conclusion

The job search in Uganda is a full time job. Don’t despair when you don’t get feedback after several tries. I personally tried for four years and still failed. But now, I am battle hardened and with that comes a lot of wise information that could be of help to you. With the tips above, I highly believe that this year’s search will be easier, – don’t forget to share!

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Stephen Dumba is the coordinator of the ICT Teachers’ Association of Uganda for Central region and team lead of the ITAU EdTech project. Besides teaching ICT, he repairs computers and designs websites. Steve is a speaker and facilitator at tech events and ICT workshops for students, teachers and school leaders. He is a Director at E-zone School of Computing, E-zone Web Services, CEO of senior1.org and a consultant on education technology.

Tel: +256 772 111 223 | +256 752 111 223 | Email: stephen.dumba@gmail.com
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