writing a covering letter
Your cover letter is the recruiter’s first impression of you, and as such is an integral and vital part of the job application process. A high-quality cover letter will ensure that your CV is noticed, and will set you apart from the bulk of competition.
We can offer some basic writing skills that will help you make this first impression effective and lasting.
Formatting your letter
In this day and age, most cover letters and CVs will be typed on a PC. However, avoid ‘standard letters’ at all costs. Recruiters often sift through hundreds of CVs, meaning that standard letters will make no impact whatsoever. Even if you are applying for lots of jobs at once, always try to make the letter as tailored to the job for which you are applying as possible.
A rough guide when formatting your letter is to paragraph as follows:
- Introduce yourself and your purpose in writing. (you may quote a reference number if you have seen the job advertised)
- Give an outline of the sort of work you are doing at present, and your qualifications. Bear in mind this must be kept brief as they will be given full information in your CV
- Give reasons as to why you are ideally suited to the job, and to the company
- Do not be afraid of introducing the idea of arranging an interview this shows that you are both keen and serious about applying for the position
- It may also impress the recruiter if you include information about the company (e.g. ‘as the largest distributor of ... in the North East’) therefore any research you can do beforehand will be highly beneficial.
A few more tips...
- Avoid using Sir or Madam, rather take the time to find out the name of the HR Officer or relevant manager within the company, or use the contact's name if this is present on the job you've seen advertised
- Always check for any spelling mistakes, odd grammar or bad punctuation. Check twice, even three times mistakes such as these are sure to create a bad impression straight away
- Avoid waffling. Your letter should be brief and concise. All details are already included in your CV, and the reader will be put off if your letter is too lengthy
- Always sell yourself, within reason, on the specific requirements mentioned in the advert, demonstrating why you are suited to the job in question
- Avoid fancy fonts and formats, and always make sure the font is of a standard size
- Always make sure your contact details are up to date, and correct.
And if emailing your application, always remember to attach your CV!