Covering Letters

Below are useful tips and advice on how to write good CV covering letters for job applications. If you do not apply for jobs with a well written cover letter, your curriculum vitae may never be read!

The Basics
The covering letter is a chance to introduce yourself and usually the first thing that a prospective employer reads. You should always send cover letters with your CV unless a job advert specifically asks otherwise. If you are sending an application form it is not usual to need to send a covering letter (unless they ask you to).

As with the CV, it is important to use good quality, heavy, A4 paper, and make sure it is only one A4 page long. It is important to write concisely and simply - do not go into too much detail and remember that any evidence will be backed up by your CV. DO NOT use coloured paper or other gimmicks! If the reader can not read - or are put off by - your covering letter then it will go into the bin and your CV will follow, unread. Although normally typed, it can be handwritten - but the end result must be neat, tidy and legible. Use black ink as this is easier to photocopy and make sure you have paid attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Style
The cover letter must be formal and respectful in tone - always address the person by their surname, never the first (unless that is all they have put in the advert). Write as with a proper letter, with your address in the top right hand corner and theirs lower down on the left. Make it well spaced and orderly - showing how organised and tidy you are as a person and creating a good first impression. Do not use different typefaces, bullet points or other unnecessary embellishments as this will make your letter look untidy and unreadable.

Content
Covering letters should contain the following information in separate paragraphs:

What you want... finishing with a sentence saying that your CV is enclosed.

Why you want it.

What you can do for them (refer to the person specification in the application notes).

Your personal strengths and unique quality (what makes you stand out).

Address any issues regarding relocation, other interests and experiences (keep it very brief).

Summarise

End (yours sincerely/faithfully)...

Don't be shy in putting yourself forward - if you have relevant skills and experience, show it. Don't be afraid to use a little flattery either - if there is something about the organisation that impresses you then explain this to them - but don't, don't grovel! You should adopt an attitude where you want to show them you want the job, but also believe they should want you equally. Grovelling will undermine your application and give the impression to the reader that you are making up in pleading for what you may lack in skills.

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