B2.2 – FCE Writing Part 2 – Letter of application for a job

One of the options for part 2 of paper 2 (writing) might be to write a letter applying for a job (120 – 180 words).

The task will probably give you an advert for the job and some criteria for applicants:  e.g.:

Want a summer job in a beautiful location? A campsite located in stunning Scottish countryside has the following vacancy:  Receptionist.  A good level of English and another foreign language is required / experience of working with customers would be useful).


Take a look at the 1st table below and think about the content of your letter:

Content – what should be included?
  Yes No
A description of my personality?    
A description of my education / professional qualifications?    
A description of my career so far?    
(Invented) references from previous employers?    
A description of my professional skills?    
A paragraph about why I want the job?    
A description of my hobbies / interests etc.?    

Comments / considerations / ideas:

Content – what should be included?
  Yes No
A description of my personality? You could include some personal description but the key thing is to make it relevant to the job you are applying for.  Decide which of the following is better:  (a) ‘…I am cheerful, sociable, independent and responsible…’ or (b) ‘…I am cheerful and sociable which means I can work well with customers or in a team.  In addition, I’m very independent and responsible so I am capable of working alone…’
A description of my education / professional qualifications? Maybe, but remember you have a 180 word limit.  You can only be brief and, again, the qualifications you mention should be relevant to the job.
A description of my career so far? A few lines on this might help you get the job if you can show that you have directly relevant experience which would help you do the job you are applying for.  Which of the following examples do this?(a) ‘My experience of dealing with the public as a sales assistant would be valuable in your campsite reception as I know how important it is to provide accurate information in order to meet customer’s needs.’(b) Although I have never worked in a reception, I have experience of dealing with customers from my previous position as a call centre advisor.  As a result I am very people-focussed and polite.’

(c)  I have previously worked in Information Technology – maybe I could help you develop your website?

(Invented) references from previous employers? Most application letters don’t quote from references but they often include a standard phrase:  ‘Written references are available on request.’  However, you could say something like:  ‘I love working in a team and previous colleagues have told me that they appreciate the support I give them.’
A description of my professional skills? Essential!  Tell you prospective boss about all the things you can do that make you a great candidate for the job!  Computer / telephone / language / management / administration / time-management / interpersonal skills.  Again, include things that are relevant to the job you are applying for.  If the job advert in the question says that “applicants should have a good level of English” and “experience working with customers is preferred” then you must demonstrate this in your application letter. 
A few lines about why I want the job? Useful.  You could say you are have studied something relevant to the job and say you are looking to learn more about that industry and widen your experience.  Keep things professional and relevant though.  You don’t need to explain that you are desperate to find a job and will do anything!
A description of my hobbies / interests etc.? Could be useful.  Again, make your description relevant to the job.  Something like:  ‘I really enjoy playing computer games and cycling in my free time,’ might be irrelevant for the job of campsite receptionist but something like:  ‘My hobbies include lots of outdoor activities like walking and cycling so I think I could identify well with customers at the campsite.’

Style / register / effect on the reader / range of language

Your audience for this text is a prospective manager who you want to impress.  Therefor your letter should be formal and professional.   It should also be enthusiastic.  You are writing in order to get the job.  Sell yourself and make sure you get the interview by including positive language such as adjectives for personal qualities (revision:  Unit 5 (page 60?) in the course book – vocabulary:  The world of work).  Your letter will probably include language for description and explanation.

Organisation and cohesion:

Your letter should be clear to follow so organising your ideas in clear paragraphs os essential.  Linking expressions and a clear opening and closing comment will also make your letter more cohesive.

Editing activity:

Here are some extracts from some application letters which were written by learners preparing for the First Certificate exam.  Can you suggest any improvements to the accuracy, style, vocabulary?  (They were writing for a job as a trainee travel agent).

Extract 1:  I think I would like to be involved in this job.  I think I have good skills to get this job.  I am sociable, persuasive, friendly, professional and very responsible.  Also I can speak six languages:  English, Spanish, French, Chinese, German and Italian.

Comments:  That first sentence doesn’t sound too enthusiastic, does it?  How could you rephrase it to make it sound more sure?  Could you also add a supporting reason?   Why does the applicant want the job?  The list of skills and personal qualities is great:  it shows the examiner that the candidate has a wide range of vocabulary but the examples could be made a bit more relevant to the job.  Try completing the sentence beginnings below with an ending that shows how the skills/qualities would be useful for a trainee travel agent:

I think I have good skills and personal qualities which are suitable for this position.  Firstly, I am sociable and friendly which means that I could……………………………………………………..  Furthermore, I am persuasive so I would be able to……………………………………..  Finally, I am very responsible for this reason you can ……………………………………………………

(Notice how the words in bold above are used to link ideas together.)

Extract 2:  I have worked in other agencies before but I did not like the place very much.

Comments:  Doesn’t sound too promising does it?  Which of the following send(s) the most positive message to a potential employer?  Add a similar sentence of your own.

(i)  I have worked in travel agencies before so I have a good understanding of the industry.  (ii)  I have experience of working in small travel agencies which has given me a good background in the industry but I am now looking for a fresh challenge with a larger company and better opportunities to develop my career.  (iii)  As well as having a degree in tourism, I did some part-time Saturday work in a travel agency while I was studying which demonstrates my interest in this field.  I would take full advantage of the opportunity of trainee travel agent to make this my career.

Extract 3:  I am particularly interested in working with you in Travelociad because in this job I can help people decide on the travels.

Comments:  What alternatives to “the travels” might be better here?

Extract 4:  How many do you pay?

Comments:  Is this appropriate?  If the writing task tells you to ask for more details about the salary, how could you do this less directly?  (Indirect question form?)

One more thing:  This writing task gives you the opportunity to be creative.  Don’t reject this option in part 2 because it’s not the kind of job you’d like to do.  Imagine the profile of the ideal candidate for this job and try planning a quick CV for them.  Ask yourself:  Who would love this job?  What kind of applicant are the employers looking for?  Imagine yourself into the shoes of that candidate before you write. 

Oh, and one more:  When you plan, check to make sure that everything you are going to include is relevant for the job you are applying for.  When you’ve finished writing, check back to make sure your letter is in the right register – don’t be afraid to make revisions to the text you have written.  You don’t need to rewrite it again if you change things, just make sure your changes are clear for the examiner to follow.

There is an example of an application writing task on page 6 of the latest homework sheet (writing).  I look forward to receiving your letters.


1 Comment

Filed under B2.2 - FCE Writing

One response to “B2.2 – FCE Writing Part 2 – Letter of application for a job

  1. Tonis

    Thank you for your for your detailed explanation of how to write a proper application. These are hard to find online.

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