Vetlink Employment Service

The Art of Writing an Application Letter

In an era of increasingly casual communication, largely driven by the rise of social media, SMS and emails, you might think there is little place for a formal application letter when applying for a job these days. But that couldn’t be further from the truth – a well-written cover letter can be a powerful way of making the right first impression and setting you apart from other applicants.

So, what are the secrets to writing a good application letter? Well, it shouldn’t be too long or too short, and it shouldn’t be all about you! Instead, you should aim for around 200 to 300 words, divided into 4 to 7 paragraphs.

As a brief guide, your opening paragraph should specify the position you are applying for. The next paragraph (or two) should explain why you are interested in the position on offer. Follow this up with another paragraph (or two) where you describe why you are suited to the position before rounding out your letter with a succinct closing paragraph.

Now, let’s examine each of those steps in a little more detail.

Make it personal

Employers want to know that you are interested in THEIR position in particular, rather than just any old job. While it might be tempting to save yourself some time by using a one-size-fits-all cover letter (particularly as a new graduate who is applying for multiple jobs at once) it doesn’t give the impression that you really want the job you are applying for and it can come across as plain lazy.

So, instead of a generic approach (along the lines of “Dear Practice Manager, I am writing to apply for the position you have available…”), be specific. Take the time to find out who you should address your application to – either from Vetlink for jobs advertised on our site, or by telephoning the practice directly for jobs you see advertised elsewhere – then specify the role you are applying for and where you saw it advertised.

State why you want the job

Over the course of a paragraph or two, expand on what appeals to you about the position. You might mention factors such as:

  • The type of practice – for example, small animal, or mixed with a high proportion of dairy.
  • Location – it helps if you are familiar with the area where the practice is located, or state that you have researched the area and believe you would enjoy living and working there.
  • Facilities/equipment – if you are looking for the opportunity to develop your sonography skills, you could refer to the ultrasound machine listed in the job ad.
  • Staff – express your interest in working with, and learning from, other staff members who have postgraduate qualifications or share a special interest.
  • Other aspects that appeal to you – for example, the practice’s commitment to continuing education, as demonstrated by their reference to conference leave.

This is where it helps if you’ve done your homework and found out as much as possible about the practice and the role on offer, so the employer knows you understand what the position will entail.

Explain why you are suited to the role

Your aim in this section of your letter is to let the prospective employer know the benefits they could expect from employing you, and what you can contribute to the practice. Rather than just reeling off a list of clichéd traits, like good interpersonal skills and a strong work ethic, try to use specific examples from your previous employment experience, veterinary or non-veterinary.

For example, if you have worked in hospitality, you might refer to your experience dealing with the general public and multitasking in a busy environment. On the other hand, if you have worked as a receptionist or nurse in a vet clinic, you could mention your familiarity with practice management software and your excellent client communication skills.

While you shouldn’t sell yourself short, don’t fall into the trap of overstating your skill set to make your application more attractive. Instead, express your enthusiasm for developing your skills in areas where you aren’t so strong.  And to ensure you remain more focused on the employer’s requirements rather than your own, avoid starting every sentence with “I” or “My”.

Finish on an active note

In closing, thank the prospective employer for taking the time to read your application and finish on an active note – for example, by stating you are happy to answer any further queries and would welcome the opportunity to meet in person.

If you’ve applied for a position through Vetlink, the practice owner typically requests that we follow up on your application. For jobs where you have applied directly to the practice, mention in your closing paragraph that you will contact them in the coming days to follow up and ensure they received your application.

Don’t forget to proofread!

All too often, a good application letter is let down by spelling or grammatical errors. While we all make typos from time to time, leaving them in a cover letter can give the impression of carelessness and lack of attention to detail – neither of which are desirable traits in a vet.

A fresh pair of eyes will usually pick up errors that you have failed to detect, which is why it is helpful to ask someone else to proofread your letter before you submit it. When you apply for jobs through Vetlink, we are always happy to check over your cover letters and provide you with feedback to ensure your application makes the best possible first impression.

If you have any queries about writing application letters or any other aspect of the job application process, you are welcome to contact us.

DISCLAIMER: The above information is for guidance purposes only. Vetlink takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information, which is not intended as advice.