How to write a covering letter

A covering letter is the first point of contact with your potential employer and a poor one could mean your cv is instantly discarded, before it is even read. As such you should use it to make an impact and to stand out from the other job applications. That doesn’t mean writing attention-grabbing statements or a 10-page tome. Here are our tips on how to write a cover letter.

Keep it brief

Four paragraphs should be enough. You have attached your cv or an application form with more detail. You don’t want to simply repeat this. The covering letter needs to show clearly and succinctly why you want the job, what you have to offer and why the employer should read on:

  • The first paragraph should say where you heard about the job
  • the second should state why you are interested in the job and any relevant experience/qualifications
  • the third should state why you are ideal for the post and what you can do for the company
  • and the fourth is more of a sign-off, where you can state that you are available for interview on request, etc, and look forward to hearing from the employer.

Stick to factual information

Point out why you want the job and also what experience you have that is relevant, but don’t go into huge detail. Refer to the cv where more details are given.

Tailor your letter

Don’t send out a blanket covering letter for different jobs. Make sure your covering letter is specifically tailored to the job you are applying for.

Avoid clichéd statements

Avoid statements such as ‘I have good interpersonal skills’. You are trying to stand out from the crowd. Show how you are different.

Research

If you think it is appropriate, mention that you have done research on the company and know that they are, for instance, big on some skill that you have lots of experience in.

Check, check and check

Check and double check spelling, grammar and punctuation. Always type your covering letter and lay it out clearly and neatly. Don’t use text language and remember things like capitalising I’s.




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