They say that the CV and application letters are a blast from the past, and there is no point in writing them.There are numerous articles on the internet claiming that recruiters and hiring executives don’t even read candidates’ application letters, but that’s not entirely true.
What if we told you there was something you could do to increase your chances of landing that dream position by about 95%? Well, there is. It is your perfect cover letter for a job in Nigeria. If you still don’t have it, you are depriving yourself of an excellent opportunity to fend off the competition and bring the employment of your dreams closer.
In this guide, you will find the top advice on how to write an application letter for a job in Nigeria, what winning points to include, the typical mistakes to avoid, how to format it, and what tricks to apply to catch the attention of the employer.
What is an application letter?
Before you find how to write a cover letter in Nigeria, you should know what this document is and what purpose it serves.
Essentially, an application letter is a piece of documentation that serves as an add-on complementing your CV. Since a CV (or resume) is all about facts, this add-on is intended to provide additional information in a more conversational tone to make a good first impression and to communicate the applicant’s personality, enthusiasm, and professional skills to the prospective employer. An application letter's objective is to make the reader (the hiring executive) curious enough to want to read your resume.
Simply put, an application letter is an advertisement, and what you’re trying to sell is your qualifications, strengths, and experience for the target position.
A practical application letter:
- Tells the employer who you are
- Highlights the critical parts of your resume
- Demonstrates your writing skills
- Shows how your background, professional skills, and experience are relevant to the position
- Draws attention to your achievements
- Tells the employer how to get in touch with you by email, phone, mail, etc.
Recruiters and HR staff are busy people; they receive dozens of job applications every day. Imagine how much time they would need to read each application in great detail. Most recruiters open an application letter for employment and read it for about 30-40 seconds. If they are impressed with what they read, they will move on to the resume. If not, the application ends up in the trash can.
Let's suppose there are three candidates for the post. They all have well-written resumes, rich industry experience, strong academic backgrounds, etc. What would you do if you were an employer? Call all of them in for an interview? A wise employer knows the value of time, reads the candidates’ application letters in detail, and chooses the one that perfectly fits the organization's needs and requirements.
A well thought out application letter for a CV is an excellent opportunity to move the needle.
What makes an application letter stand out from the others? This document is too important to just submit any old document. Even though the process is time-consuming, there is good reason to craft one specifically for the position. If a prospective employer gets the sense that they are reading a one-size-fits-all template, the author’s chances of getting hired immediately go down to zero.
Types of Cover Letters
To start with, let’s check the main types of cover letters and discuss the purpose of each. There are three types: application letter, prospecting letter, and networking letter.
What to Include in Your Application Letter
As was mentioned earlier, the purpose of an application letter is to strengthen your CV contents without duplicating or rehashing information. So what should a proper application letter include? Arm yourself with the following checklist.
Your name and contact details
Start your application letter with your contact information, including your full name, the date of your application, your postal address (street, city, state, zip), phone number, and email address.
Just imagine an application letter that starts with:
We can agree that this is now how a professional email address should look. If you don’t have a professional email, hurry up and create one using a free email service. Make it straightforward and simple – your first and last name, for example.
Recipient’s name and contact details
Next, include the name of the recipient of your application letter, the name of their company, the postal address of the company (street, city, state, zip), and their contact details (contact phone number and email address).
Search on Google, Linkedin, or on the official website of the company/organization (Contacts/About Us sections).
If you have trouble finding the information you need, call the HR office and ask for the hiring manager’s name.
Try not to use “To whom it may concern” in the beginning of your application letter; it sounds like “Whoever” and shows a lack of interest in the job right off the bat.
Specify the title of the job you're applying for
You should include the title of the available vacancy for which you are applying. It is viable to include the job title on a separate line at the start of your application letter (e.g. “Regarding: Application for Sales Executive position”), or in the opening paragraph (e.g. “I am writing to apply for the Sales Executive position”).
Indicate your relevant skills and experience
Highlight your skills and experience without rehashing the descriptions in your CV. A shortlist is a perfect idea for this. Be sure to use measurable metrics (if possible) to support your statements.
Summarize why you are right for the job
Keep in mind that you have to reinforce your skills or experience with relevant items from your resume. Mention jobs where you’ve used the skills and experiences that you list. Explain to the prospective employer why you are a perfect fit for the position. Be specific and honest; don’t exaggerate your accomplishments.
Think not about what the employer and organization can do for you but what you can do for the organization and the employer. Try to identify the company's issues — the problems that you, as a new-hire, could solve. Emphasize your relevant skills and experiences that will actually help the employer. Think over solutions to the most challenging issues of the organization. Impress the prospective hirer with your readiness and willingness to contribute to the development of their company.
Use the right tone
The tone you use will change depending on the company to which you are sending your application. Some modern companies appreciate a creative approach to application letters and CVs, while others favor a strict negotiation and appreciate a formal document.
Make sure you know what the company’s “voice” is like. Before writing an application letter to a company, first find out what the company is like by reading materials on their official website. You could also browse their social media pages to see what kind of tone they use when addressing the public.
Complete your appeal with a strong finishing touch
Your closing lines should be a call to action. Closeout your letter appropriately by conveying the right amount of respect to the recipient and asking them to contact you.
Here are some standard ways to sign off:
- Sincerely yours
- Best regards
- Kind regards
- Thank you for your consideration
Never close your appeal with the following:
- Text me back when you get a chance
- With love
- Any sort of abbreviations
- Any emoticons
What to Avoid in Your Professional Application Letter
Don’t let grammar mistakes and typos slip through
It’s often difficult to notice mistakes and typos in your own writing without a fresh look. Ask your friends and/or relatives to read your application letter carefully and review your text for typos. Other ways to correct mistakes include grammarly.com, the built-in “Spelling and grammar” tools in word processors, various extensions, and third-party tools designed to help catch errors in your writing. With so many options, there is no excuse to have any mistakes in your application letter.
And always double check the spelling of the company name, the job title, the recipient’s name, and the position.
Don’t copy paste
We’ve already highlighted that an application letter is an add-on or extension for the CV. It is intended to communicate dry facts from the resume in a conversational way. Rephrase those facts instead of copy-pasting.
Remember, a good CV is the brain, and a good application letter is the beauty.
Don’t write a memoir
Do not overuse “I” in any form while crafting your document. An application letter is not a memoir or an autobiography “I, me, myself”; it is about the employer and how you can help them, not about you.
Don’t make jokes and inappropriate jests
Humor is highly subjective and can easily be misunderstood. Nevertheless, using your wit and creativity is not prohibited. Be yourself and don’t force things.
Don’t mention your other job applications
Your aim here is to convince the employer that you want this particular job in this specific organization. Of course, you’re applying for several jobs hoping to land one of them. But there is no good reason to tell employers that you’ve sent applications to a row of other companies.
Don’t mention your previous salary or salary expectation
It is unethical and amateurish to talk about salary in any way, shape, or form. Never mention salary unless you are asked.
Instructions for Writing an Effective Application Letter for a Job
The general structure of an amazing application letter looks like this:
- Header: contact section
Let’s demonstrate this structure in action.
[Your Full Name]
[Street, City, State, Zip]
[Recipient’s Full Name]
[Recipient’s Company Name]
[Street, City, State, Zip]
Draw the reader’s attention with your opening paragraph. Introduce yourself, explain why you are contacting the employer, mention how you learned about the organization or job posting, and explain why you aspire to work for the organization.
Emphasize why you want to work with the employer. Explain your interest in the organization, its reputation, area of specialty, or public service. Describe what you can bring to the role, and provide examples of skills you’ve developed and the achievements you’ve enjoyed that are relevant to the job description. Be specific and honest –don’t exaggerate your accomplishments. Highlight your experience without rehashing the descriptions in your CV. List your achievements using “first”, “second”, “third”, etc. if need be. Tell the prospective employer why you’re specifically attracted to them and their work, and show that you’ve done the research and understand both the organization's mission and how it carries out its work. Identify the key issues facing the company — the problems that they need a worker they hire to solve. Emphasize your relevant skills and experiences that will actually help the employer. Show genuine and informed enthusiasm for the position.
Mention that you've enclosed your CV and look forward to hearing from the firm. Thank the employer for taking the time to consider your application and sign off:
Additional tips for writing a winning application letter for employment
- Keep your letter short. Do not exceed one page or 300 words total. Be concise — you aren’t writing a memoir;
- Be organized – list out your strengths one-by-one;
- Support your stated skills and experience with numbers;
- Avoid cliches;
- Stick to the Nigerian application letter format. Use reasonably sized fonts like Times New Roman, Cambria, Georgia, Arial, Calibri, or Verdana— they are easy on the eyes;
- Use power verbs, or as they are also called, “doing words”, to charge your application letter. Words like Managed, Increased, Negotiated, Resolved, Improved, etc. show your proactivity and efficacy. But remember: do not oversell yourself by exaggerating your accomplishments. Be wise and honest.
How to Edit an Application Letter for a Job Search
To avoid writing a new application letter for every organization from scratch, create a “master application letter” with relevant static information. By static, we mean things like your personal and contact info, your skills, and closing words. Depending on the organization and job opening, you edit it appropriately. This approach saves time and nerves.
For example, the templatized “master application letter” might look like this:
[Your Full Name]
[Street, City, State, Zip]
[Recipient’s Full Name]
[Recipient’s Company Name]
[Street, City, State, Zip]
I am writing to express my excitement about the [Insert Job Title Here] position at [Insert Company Name Here]. I am convinced that it was fate that I found the vacancy posted on [Insert Source Here]. [Custom text about how you admire the company and the way it does its business]
I’d be a great [Job Title] because:
1. [Your relevant skill/competency 1] + [Explanation with numbers]
2. [Your relevant skill/competency 2] + [Explanation with numbers]
3. [Your relevant skill/competency 3] + [Explanation with numbers]
[The bottom line concluding why you’re the right person for the position]
I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the [Insert Job Title Here] position and show you how my success and set of relevant skills can translate into growth for [Insert Company Name Here]. You may contact me at any time!
Sample of job application letter in Nigeria
We have combined all of the above tips into one example of an application letter. This will help you understand how the rules and tricks of professional self-presentation work in the real world. Feel free to use this sample as a template and adopt the best practices for your document. But remember, your application letter must be unique. Otherwise, you risk losing your competitive advantage at the initial selection stage.
13 Broad Street, Lagos, 100221
Apata Memorial High School
Plot 36/42 Godwin Omonua Street Ire-Akari estate, Isolo, 100263
Dear Mr. Johns,
I want to join the Apata Memorial High School professional team as a school teacher. I came across your vacancy on the Jobberman website and took it as a chance to try my luck. Your mission is to inspire youth for self-reliance and hard work. And I believe these life principles are no less critical than the high-quality education you provide to students.
I know the philosophy of Apata Memorial High School implies internationality. This is a beautiful principle against the backdrop of globalization and the still pressing issues of discrimination. Therefore, I hope to become a worthy adherent of your values and transmit them to the next generation of youth.
I have attached my resume for a comprehensive assessment of my candidacy.
I hope for feedback and fruitful cooperation.
If you want to receive more examples of application letters, you can find them here.
An elaborate application letter can drastically influence the outcome of your job search. We’ve gathered the most relevant and useful information for you to succeed in writing a perfect document.
If you’re still hesitant about your ability to write a great application letter, ask for professional assistance. According to a recent survey from TheLadders.com, professionally written resumes are 70% more effective compared to letters written by applicants.
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