Layout and style

Structure of the letter

Paragraph 1 Paragraph 2 Paragraph 3 Paragraph 4


Task 1 Task 2 Task3 Task 4 Task 5

Additional Resources

Further Reading

Sample Letter of Application


A letter of application should create enough interest to make the potential employer want to look at your application in greater detail by reading your CV and hopefully invite you for an interview.  Your application letter, however, should not contain too much detail about your experience and qualifications because that is the job of the CV (see the module on Writing Resumes/Curricula Vitae).

Layout and style

The letter should be limited to one page and a few paragraphs will normally be sufficient. It is better to address a letter to a specific person, e.g. Dear Miss Chan, rather than to Dear Sir or Madam . However, in some job advertisements the name of the person you are writing to is not given. It is good practice to try to find out the following information before you write your letter:

All this information can be obtained by a quick phone call to the company. Remember, never write Dear Miss W. Chan. It should be Dear Miss Chan. Do not use the initial except in the address. If you start with Dear Sir/Madam, it is accepted practice to finish with Yours faithfully. Whereas, if you start with Dear Miss Chan, you may finish with Yours sincerely. Your letter should be neat and free from careless mistakes. You can follow the blocked and open punctuation style as shown in the Sample Letter of Application at the end of this module. For more information about the different layout styles of business letters, read pp.12-13 in Business Writing for Hong Kong. Whichever layout style you choose to use, you should use it consistently throughout the letter.


Structure of the letter

The general structure of the letter is given below:

Paragraph 1 It should state clearly why you are writing and where you saw the job advertised.


I would like to apply for the post of ... as advertised in today's issue of ..

With reference to your advertisement in ... on ..., I am writing to apply for the position of ...

Trainee Manager

I would like to apply for the above post (of Trainee Manager) as advertised ...


Paragraph 2 It should give a little information about your qualifications and experience. Make sure the information you give is relevant to the job that you are applying for.

  1. As you can see from my enclosed CV, I have worked in my present position for five years. During this time I have gained invaluable experience in ...
  2. I am currently a student at HKPU studying ........ I am due to graduate in....... Although I have been studying full time, I have had a number of summer jobs which have helped me to gain experience in ...
  3. My experience over the past two years has been at the managerial level, where I have had responsibility for ...

Paragraph 3 It should say why you believe you are suited to the job and what you can offer the company. Those currently employed can state the reason for wishing to change their present job. However, you should not sound critical of your present employer.



1. I am currently working as a receptionist in ...The reason for my seeking a new position is that I wish to pursue a secretarial career. Unfortunately, there are no openings for advancement in my present employment.

2. For the last two years I have been working as a receptionist in ...Unfortunately the company is moving its main offices overseas and I have therefore decided to look for a new position. I believe that the experience I have gained in ... has given me the qualities you are looking for ...

3. I believe I would be an asset to your company. I will be able to bring with me my experience of ... which I believe would be useful in this position ...

4. I feel that my ability to ... will help/enable me to ...

This is probably the most important paragraph of the letter. It is also the hardest part to write because you need to "sell yourself" without appearing too arrogant. However, you do need to be quite forceful and direct, showing that you possess the skills for the job you are applying for.


Paragraph 4 It should tell the reader  when you are available for an interview and how to contact you.


1. I would like to have the opportunity to talk to you further about my application. I am available for interview at any time and I can be contacted at/on ...

2. I am available for an interview at any time but would appreciate two days notice. I can be contacted on/at ...

I look forward to hearing from/meeting you soon.

3. As requested in the advertisement, I enclose a copy of my resume together with a recent photograph.

I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my application further. I am available ... and can be contacted on/at ...


Remember you might have to give a bit more detail than in the above examples. You can also combine the language in these examples. The Sample Letter of Application at the end of this module is developed from the Sample CV in a related module, Writing Resumes and Curricula Vitae. You may compare the two documents to see how you can select useful information from your CV and highlight it in your application letter.

Also, it is sometimes useful to gather information about the company so that you know more about its background and policies. This may help you present yourself in the best light.



Task 1 The first step of getting a job is of course to find a job you want to apply for. This involves knowing your own specialism and personality. Think about work positions that match your professional interests and list all the possible sources that you can get information about job vacancies which might suit you. Look at pp. 2-5 in Job Seeker’s Guide by SCMP if you want more information about personal analysis. You can also see a career adviser if you have great difficulty deciding your career path.

Task 2 Some application letters attract more attention than others. How can they do this? Look at the extracts from various letters on p.166 in International Business English. Decide what you think might make an employer accept some letters of application and reject others.

Task 3 If you want to familiarise yourself with the organisation of an application letter before you write one, there are four application letters with the parts cut up and jumbled. You can find these four sets of segments in the Job-seeking Package in the ELSC Resources Room. Try to put them back together.

Task 4 It is very difficult to sound confident without appearing arrogant. If you want to practise selling yourself with the right tone, try the language exercises on p. 199 in Business Writing for Hong Kong.

Task 5 Choose a job advertisement from a newspaper. List the requirements it is asking for and then practise writing an application letter. Write about your qualities and what you can give the company. Revise your letter and show it to your teacher for comments.


Additional Resources

Pathway on Application Letters & CVs

Job-seeking Package

Further Reading

Business Writing for Hong Kong by Grahame Bilbow, Longman, 1991, pp.191 -197.

International Business English by Leo Jones and Richard Alexander, Cambridge University Press, 1989, Unit 13.

Job Seeker’s Guide by South China Morning Post, pp. 8 - 9.

The above materials can be found in the ELSC Resources Room on the Business shelf.


(Sample Letter of Application)

Flat K, 30/F
Block 5, Fulrich Villa
Shatin, H.K.
14 January 1998
Mr. Tony Lee
Personnel Manager
Thomas Green Ltd.
Room 383, Hang Fung Building
112-114 Prince Road
Kowloon, H.K.


Dear Mr. Lee

Re: Computer Graphic Designer

With reference to the advertisement in the SCMP on January 11, 1998, I am writing to apply for the position of Computer Graphic Designer.

I am currently a full-time student studying a degree course in Information Technology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and I am due to graduate in June1998. As you can see from the enclosed CV, I have extensive experience in computer graphic design. Apart from the formal training I have obtained from my three-year course and summer programmes, I have had a number of part-time and summer jobs which have helped me to gain experience in designing computer graphics. Frequent participation in workshops, competitions and extra-curricular activities involving the subject has also allowed me to develop insight into the area.

My professional training at the university requires adaptability and creative use of the resources available to produce graphics for real customers in the business world. Working as a student researcher during the last semester has further expanded my skills in data processing and graphic design, and more importantly, my ability to work independently. I feel, therefore, that I have not only the experience that you are looking for, but a number of other invaluable skills which would benefit me in this position.

I would like to have the opportunity to discuss this position with you further. I can be contacted at 2777 7777 or 9922 0000 between 8.30am and 6.30pm. Thank you for your consideration and I await your reply.


Yours sincerely,


Kwong Chi-ming , Tommy


encl. cv

Last revised: 17 September 1998

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