When writing a cover letter, never underestimate how imprtant this is.
Writing a cover letter
When writing a cover letter, never underestimate the importance of this first contact with a potential employer. With an in-tray full of applications an employer will spend approximately 30 seconds casting an eye over each one.
You have to be sure that within those 30 seconds your cover letter has sufficient information. And have an impact to make the reader want to know more about you.
A covering letter builds upon the information you provided in your CV; it is clear and focused. Promotion of yourself stating clearly in simple language, just why this company should employ you.
All of its contents should reaffirm to the potential employer that you are the right person for that job.
Addressing your cover letter
After spending time-writing, your cover letter to perfection, it is imperative that you send your letters carefully, as you do not want it to go to the wrong person, department or go astray.
Wherever you are applying for an advertised vacancy, there is probably a contact name on that advert. So address your letter to that person.
If you are writing to a company; for a job when they have not advertised a vacancy, The chances are that unless you have contacts on the inside, they will not know the name of the person you need to write too.
In this case, you can address your letter to the manager of the specific departments to which you are applying. For example, Research Manager, Administrative Manager, otherwise, you can send it to the Recruitment Manager or Human Resources Manager.
Alternatively, give the company a call and ask for the name of the Head of Department to which you are applying. It is always a good idea to visit the business’s website for further background information.
You should make sure that the recipient’s name, department and address details on the envelope are the same as at the top of the letter.
The cover letter format
As with standard formal letter writing, your address goes at the top right-hand corner, miss a line and then put the date. The recipient’s address goes on the left side on the line after the time.
Employ appropriate margin and paragraph spacing so that your letter is not bunched up at the top of the page, but is evenly distributed and balanced.
The envelope should look as professional as its contents. Do not use any fancy stationery; a pure white is best. Use a good pen, with black ink and use your best handwriting. Alternatively, the envelope should be typed.
Always type your covering letter and use the same quality plain paper as you used when you wrote your CV. You may be asked to handwrite your letter since some companies employ a graphologist to analyse your handwriting, but this is unusual.
Important information to note
- Avoid sounding pompous or using clichés and catch phrases, some statements will utilise all the time such as ‘I have excellent interpersonal skills’, you want your letter to be unique.
- Try to avoid using ‘I’ too much. A page of I did this, and I did that is not appealing – it says to the employer that you have not thought about them.
- Do not use abbreviations.
- Do not exceed four paragraphs of content.
- To satisfy the skim reader, incorporate some industry sound bites and buzzwords.
- Subtly flatter the company, for example ‘you are the industry leader.’
- Check and then recheck your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Get someone else to read it through also.
- If you are making a speculative application, you should follow up the letter with a phone call, e-mail or office visit.
- Paper clip your covering letter to your CV neither should be sent out without the other.
Beginning the letter
- Dear Mr Johnson – If you know the name of the person to whom you are writing
- Dear Ms Smith – If you are not sure of the marital status of the female recipient
- Dear Sir/Madam – If you are totally in the dark as to the name of the recipient
What to include in your cover letter
The opening paragraph should be short and hard-hitting. Begin the sentence by explaining why you are writing to them,
for example ‘I would like to be considered for the position of Admin Manager’.
Whenever you are applying for an advertised position, then say where you saw the advert, ‘With regards to the Admin Manager job vacancy advertised on your website’.
If someone referred you to your contact, you might wish to mention your friend’s referral in this section.
Good opening paragraphs
- With regards to the advertised position in The Guardian on August 9th, please consider my CV in your search for a Managing Director.
- I was pleased to hear from Jane George that you will soon have a vacancy for an Administrative Manager. I am very interested in this position, and I think that with my skills I could be an asset to your company.
- Having read in The Times of your business’s plans for expansion, I am writing to establish whether this will involve an increase in personnel. As a final year business student at Middlesex University, I am seeking a position in July that will develop my marketing and finance skills.
- I am writing to apply for the Photographic Assistant position advertised in the December 3 listing of Car Magazine.
The second paragraph
Briefly, describe your professional and academic qualifications that are relevant to the job, refer to all of the required skills written both essential and desired.
The third paragraph
Emphasise what you can do for the company, not vice versa. Expand on the most relevant points of your CV and incorporate your research.
Outline a major career goal, for example, if you are applying for Sales positions do not say that you are training to be an actor/actress.
The Fourth Paragraph
Request actions, for example, indicate you are available for a personal interview and that you can meet with the employer at their convenience.
Some job adverts will ask you to include salary requirements; you can choose to ignore this, opting instead to wait until the interview to talk about money, or include a broad salary range, for example, £15 – 21K.
Closing the letter
Sign off your covering letter ‘yours sincerely’ do not forget to sign it. Write an enclosure line at the bottom.
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