Job applications and cover letters follow quite a simple formula (see the 10 steps below – replace the words in brackets with suitable alternatives, depending on the job).
IELTS will always try to test how well you can adapt a formula to different situations, so in this lesson we’ll look at the language of a typical Job Application and then see how we can adapt it to the question.
Get the full lesson and worksheet in The Members Academy.
During a recent plane journey, you sat next to a business person who owns a chain of restaurants. You talked to him/her and he/she suggested that you should contact him/her about a possible job in one of his/her restaurants.
Write a letter to this person. In your letter
– Remind him/her when and where you met
– Tell him/her what kind of job you are interested in
– Say why you think you would be suitable for the job
A normal Job Application would follow the 10 steps below, but as you can see, you will need to adapt it for different circumstances.
Normally you would start a job application/cover letter with ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ if you don’t know the person’s name.
But if you sat next to this person on a plane and chatted, it is very likely that you know this person’s name (either because they gave you their business card or because you have done some research on LinkedIn to find out who they are!).
So in the test, it would be appropriate to start with ‘Dear Mr Smith/Mrs Smith/Ms Smith’.
2. Details about the job advert
I am writing with regard to your advertisement for the position of (Head Chef) which was published in The Guardian newspaper yesterday.
- Notice the use of prepositions throughout the 10 steps.
3. Your qualifications
I am a (teacher) with over 30 years of experience in/of (teaching EFL).
I graduated from (Reading University) in 1989 with a First Class degree in (English/French).
- Present Tense for NOW (I am currently working…)
- Past Tense for your Work History
- Change all the examples in (brackets) to suit the role.
4. Your current situation
At present, I am employed as a (lecturer) at (Essex University).
- This might be clear from the previous section, so you may not need to repeat it.
5. Your experience
As you can see from my CV, I have been working as (a tutor) for the past 10 years.
- A great chance to use Present Perfect Simple or Continuous. There are many opportunities in a letter like this.
6. Your skills
I consider myself to be (reliable, hard-working, enthusiastic, motivated, ambitious).
I have strong (communication) skills and an excellent knowledge of (IT).
- You can prepare these beforehand and adapt them to suit the role.
7. Your interest in the job
I believe the position you offer will give me the opportunity to (develop my skills, widen my knowledge) and I feel that my experience (in ….) makes me well suited for this position.
- I think this is always a tough section in any job application – ‘Why do you want the job?’ ‘Because I need the money’ (obviously). So memorise a few key expressions that will help you sound enthusiastic.
I enclose/Please find enclosed my references and resume.
- If it’s an email, you can say ‘please find attached‘.
9. Ways to end the letter
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
10. Signing off
Yours sincerely, … (you know the name of the person you are writing to)
Yours faithfully, ... (you don’t know the name)
Dear Ms Jones
I am not sure whether you will remember me, but we met last Saturday on a flight from Dubai to the UK and you kindly gave me your business card.
During the flight we discussed the imminent opening of a branch of Burger Queen in my hometown and you mentioned that you were looking to recruit a restaurant manager.
I would like to apply for this position as I believe I am ideally suited to the role. Over the past 10 years, I have managed a number of fast-food outlets, working my way up from the shop floor to a managerial position. This variety of experience has equipped me with all the skills necessary for the job. I am hard-working, ambitious and self-motivated, with excellent interpersonal and organisational skills.
It was a pleasure chatting with you on the flight and I hope you will consider my application favourably. I enclose my CV and am available to come for an interview any time at your convenience.
I look forward to hearing from you,
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