How to write a good covering letter

Great covering letters are a really easy way to stand out from the competition when you’re applying for jobs. Many applicants won’t bother including a covering letter and others will write their letter as a bit of an after-thought. So a well-written letter is crucial.

Here are some hints and tips to help you write a winning letter to accompany your CV or application.
Blog 24.06
General tips:

  • Keep to a maximum of one side of A4.
  • Paragraphs should be clearly laid out.
  • Use a font that is easy to read, such as Arial.
  • Writing your letter in a direct and simple way will help you save space and get your message across more easily.

Structure

  • Always address your letter to a named person: check online, check LinkedIn or ring the company and ask who would be the best contact
  • Use their title and surname only, eg Dear Mrs Smith rather than Dear Mrs Eve Smith (always best to play it safe)

First paragraph

  • Use this to set the scene.
  • Clarify what you are applying or looking for, and what you’re currently doing.
  • For example, ‘I wish to apply for the position of xxxxxxxxxxx. I am currently a final year xxxxxx student at the University of Chester.’
  • Add a reason for your interest in the vacancy, eg previous time spent in a similar organaisation, relevant options during your degree.
  • Mention you are enclosing your CV.

 Second paragraph

  • Address why you are applying to that organisation
  • Then widen this out to anything special or unique about the employer (online research will come in useful here)
  • You need to demonstrate that you have researched the employer and area of work
  • Make links to any experience that has helped you come to your decision and avoid vague generalisations such as ‘top class training programme’ or ‘international reputation’.

Third paragraph

  • This is where you need to convince the employer that you are right for them and for the role. If you are responding to an advertised position, address each of the selection criteria.
  • Don’t expect the reader to turn to your CV to evidence this; lay it out for them to read and
  •  If you don’t have much relevant experience, explain why you think you could make a contribution, e.g. team player, fast learner, good people skills.
  •  Refer to points on your CV that you want the reader to note without repeating too much information.

Fourth paragraph

  • This is for any other relevant information such as mitigating circumstances for poor academic results, or details of extra qualifications that are relevant to the job, e.g. languages.

 Final paragraph

  • Use this space to sign off and indicate your availability for interview.
  • Use ‘Yours sincerely’ where you have written to a named individual and ‘Yours faithfully’ if you have had to use ‘Sir/Madam’.
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