How to write a great covering letter

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A covering letter is sent with your CV, and it's your chance to sell yourself a little more, to the person who will hopefully be your future boss! Unlike your CV, which is all about your experience, skills, qualifications etc, your covering letter allows you to express your character, passion and enthusiasm for the position you're about apply to.
If you’re sending your CV speculatively, (ie you’re not sure if they have a job, so you’re contacting them on the outside chance that they will) then this letter will explain why you’ve sent them you CV.
When done well, a covering letter can definitely enhance your chances of being offered a job interview. On the other hand, a poorly written covering letter can blow your chances of work out of the water!
This guide will hopefully help you to write one that will turn the tables in your direction!

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How to write a great covering letter

  1. 1. Want2get on? is a unique career coaching service that offers 1:1 support for those whowant to draw upon their Christian faith and apply it in a practical way to their job situation.www.want2geton.co.uk Tel: 07503 177126 charles@want2geton.co.ukHow to write a great covering letterAlways send a covering letter with your CV. This is an opportunity to tell an employer a bitabout you and draw their attention to your skills and experience, as documented in yourCV. Never refer to any information which isn’t backed up in your CV.A covering letter is also a chance to put over your enthusiasm for the job (without overdoing it!), which you don’t have a chance of doing in your CV. Don’t forget, an employernot only wants someone with the right skills but also a passion for the job.Before you write your covering letter, do a bit of research. If possible get hold of some forecompany information – annual reports and brochures. You can phone and request these.If you know anyone in a similar field, talk to them, get some inside information and use it toyour advantage.In your letter:• Enter your full address and postcode followed by your telephone number and e e-mail in the top right hand corner• Always write to a named person and include their job title. If necessary, phone the company and find out who to address it to (especially if it’s a speculative letter). If the advert says write to e.g. Chris Williams, address your letter to Dear Chris (never make assumptions – could be male or female)• Begin the letter with an attention attention-grabbing opening that shows motivation – access the ening company’s website.• Don’t write more than one page of A4. Three paragraphs are usually enough.• Be direct – tell them why you are writing and what you could bring to the job. Why the employer should consider you rat rather than anyone else. This is your chance to sell yourself.• Use your CV to tell them a bit about your background, emphasising relevant skills, qualifications and experience. Stress your enthusiasm, willingness to learn, hard work, travel, ability to work as a member of a team, under pressure and to meet targets etc. k• Why are you interested in them? What is it about the job and/or that particular company which interests you?• The final paragraph should stress your availability for attending an interview.• If you addressed the letter to Dear Mr/Mrs/or first name then use Yours sincerely. If you don’t have a name, start with Dear Sir/Madam and end with Yours faithfully.
  2. 2. If you are sending a speculative letter, your research on the organisation should haveclearly identified a role that you can apply for and the most relevant person to receive yourletter. You should also make it clear in the letter what you wish to achieve – a summerwork placement, a work shadowing opportunity, a permanent post etc. Make sure youfinish by telling them that you will get back in touch with them to discuss this further,preferably stating a date – then make sure you do it.• Remember to keep copies of all the letters and CVs you have sent.Three styles of covering letter – depends to whom you’re writing!(These are not intended to be a template, just a guide) 1) Standard, conservative style for sectors such as business, law, accountancy, retail. Dont send a letter like this for a creative position - theyll stick it straight in the bin.Dear Mr Hughs,Please find enclosed my CV in application for the post advertised in the Guardian on 30November.The nature of my degree course has prepared me for this position. It involved a great dealof independent research, requiring initiative, self-motivation and a wide range of skills. Forone course, [insert course], an understanding of the [insert sector] industry was essential. Ifound this subject very stimulating.I am a fast and accurate writer, with a keen eye for detail and I should be very grateful forthe opportunity to progress to market reporting. I have not only the ability to take on theresponsibility of this position immediately, but also the enthusiasm and determination toensure that I make a success of it.Thank you for taking the time to consider this application and I look forward to hearingfrom you in the near future.Yours sincerely,Joe McBlogs 2) Standard speculative letter - vary according to the nature of the company.Dear Mr Brown,I am writing to enquire if you have any vacancies in your company. I enclose my CV foryour information.As you can see, I have had extensive vacation work experience in office environments, theretail sector and service industries, giving me varied skills and the ability to work with manydifferent types of people. I believe I could fit easily into your team.I am a conscientious person who works hard and pays attention to detail. Im flexible, quickto pick up new skills and eager to learn from others. I also have lots of ideas andenthusiasm. Im keen to work for a company with a great reputation and high profile like
  3. 3. [insert company name].I have excellent references and would be delighted to discuss any possible vacancy withyou at your convenience. In case you do not have any suitable openings at the moment, Iwould be grateful if you would keep my CV on file for any future possibilities.Yours sincerely,Joe McBlogs 3) Letter for creative jobs (in this case, to be a copywriter). The aim of a creative letter is to be original and show you have imagination, but understand what the job entails. Balance is essential: dont be too wacky, or it will turn off the reader. Never send a letter like this to a conservative company.Dear Ms Green, • Confused by commas? • Puzzled by parenthesis? • Stumped by spelling? • Perturbed by punctuation? • Annoyed at the apostrophe? (And alliteration?)Well, youre not alone. It seems that fewer and fewer people can write. Unfortunately, thereare still a lot of people who can read. So theyll spot a gaffe a mile off. And that means itsa false economy, unless youre 100% sure of yourself, to write your own materials. (Or tolet clients do it for themselves.)To have materials properly copywritten is, when one considers the whole process ofpublishing materials and the impact that the client wishes to make, a minor expense.Sloppiness loses clients, loses customers.There is an answer. Me. Firm quotes are free. You can see some of what I do on mymultilingual website at [insert web address]. If youd like, I can get some samples out toyou within 24 hours. And, if you use me, youll have some sort of guarantee that you cansleep soundly as those tens of thousands of copies are rolling off the presses.Luck shouldnt come into it!With kindest regardsJoe McBlogsWant2get on? is a unique career coaching service that offers 1:1 support for those whowant to draw upon their Christian faith and apply it in a practical way to their job situation.www.want2geton.co.uk Tel: 07503 177126 charles@want2geton.co.uk

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