When you’re looking for a new job, one of the hardest things is actually writing the covering letter to go with your application. People usually end up telling their entire life story which can leave the recruiter losing the will to live half way through and becoming so bored that they don’t even bother reading your resume. I write a lot of covering/cover letters and if you follow my lead you’ll never worry about writing one again.
Stay Focused – The sole purpose of a covering letter is to get a recruiter to read your CV, so always keep in mind who is going to read it and what they want to know. Then tell them just that.
Keep it Short – Recruiters are going to have more than your CV to read through so keep the letter to half a page if you can, They’re not going to want to hear your life story; they just want to know if it’s worth reading your CV.
Emphasise Your Main Points – Highlight your key skills. These might be specific professional skills, extensive experience, a high level of training, or advanced educational qualifications.
Tell The Truth – Your covering letter should always be a completely accurate overview of your skills and experience so never lie or misrepresent yourself. There will always be a way you can work around any career gaps or other missing skills and you will usually be found out. It’s really not worth the risk or stress.
Tailor Each One – You’d never send the same CV to lots of different companies and the same applies to your covering letters. Tailor each one to the position you want and the company you want to work for. Look at their ‘About Page’ on their website and write a letter that reflects how they see themselves. This is also the perfect way to see if you’re actually suited to the company as you wouldn’t want to work for an old stuff company if you were young and creative – plus they’d never hire you as they’d see immediately that you wouldn’t fit in.
Follow The Rules of Writing – Be concise, coherent, and write fluidly. Now is not the time for creative language and generic descriptions, and remember to check the spelling!
- Always address the letter to a specific person. If you’re not sure who to send it to then ring their switchboard and ask or look at their company page on LinkedIn
- Introduce yourself, tell them what position you’re applying for and where you saw it advertised. For a speculative letter include the type of work you’re looking for and why your CV is worth them reading
- If you’ve been referred by someone then you should mention this in the opening paragraph
- Outline why you’re interested in the position and display an understanding of what the job involves and how your experience/training/skills are relevant
- Tell them why you want to work for them in particular rather than bore them with a dull, generic letter
- Your key strengths should reflect the requirements for the position so highlight how you’re right for the job and provide evidence by referring to your CV
- Briefly summarise your resume: “my CV is attached and demonstrates a successful track-record in…” etc. To read your CV they need to see some kind of evidence that you have the qualities for the job they are hiring for
- Tell them your availability for interview
- The letter should be in a formal style and on good quality paper. Also put the letter in with your CV but don’t staple it to your resume.
- Remember that this is their first impression of you so your letter needs to be well presented, spelt correctly, personal yet professional, and (most importantly) make them want to read your CV!