If you are sending your CV to a perspective employer by post or fax it is essential that you send with it a covering letter. You need to use the covering letter to create a good impression so that the employer or recruiter will want to read your CV. It will have more impact if it is individually written in response to a particular role or advertisement.
In the case of email applications it is acceptable to write a brief paragraph of a few sentences explaining where you heard about the role and why your qualifications and experience are a perfect fit for the job. You should ensure the tone of the text is formal as would be the case with a paper covering letter. It is a mistake to be too informal as this can be seen as unprofessional.
When making any sort of job application either Speculative, where you are sending you CV to an employer/agency with no specific vacancy in mind or, specific, where you are sending your CV in response to an advertisement for a particular role, the overall covering letter format is the same.
Here are the top ten rules to remember when writing a covering letter.
1. The covering letter should consist of 1 page on plain white A4 paper.
2. You should use a font that offers a clean and clear appearance. Arial is best
3. Aim for a maximum of three paragraphs. Remember simple is best
4. Use upbeat and positive language and avoid exaggerated statements
5. Ensure there are no spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes.
6. Always use black ink.
7. Express yourself with confidence.
8. Where possible, write to a named individual
9. Covering letters should be tailored specifically for each application
10. Be concise and to the point. Try to avoid repeating what’s in your CV.
Covering letter format
Your contact details
This should include your name, address, telephone number and email address if you have one. Remember make it easy for the employer to contact you.
This should include whom the letter is going to, company name and full address. If you know the name of the person e.g. if it is mentioned in the advertisement then use it. If no particular name was mentioned use a department title e.g. Personnel manager or Managing director
You should use long date format in full e.g. 27th April 2006 and not 27/4/06
Salutation & Opening
If you know the name use it e.g. Dear Mr Smith. If you don’t know, use Dear Sir/Madam. It is preferable to use a name. The company’s web site is often a good place to search for the appropriate individual.
Centre and bold the text. This will enable the addressee to know immediately that this is an application
Paragraph 1 – Why you are writing
You want to try & get the interest of the Employer. You should start the letter with the reason for writing and indicate the position that you are applying for along with how you heard of the vacancy. This is also a good place to tell then why you are interested in the position and convey a genuine interest in the company. The company website will be a good source of background information.
Paragraph 2 – What you can offer them
Here you describe briefly why you think you should be considered for the role. You should summarise relevant qualifications for the position along with your experience and skills. Also give a brief example of one or two jobs you have worked in that relate to the position. Try to make sure that it is not just a list of what is in your CV but is individualised to the job application.
Paragraph 3 – Summarise and next step
Refer to your enclosed CV and also ask for the interview. You may at this point suggest that you will be making a follow up call. It is also important that you thank the reader for their time and consideration and tell them that you look forward to hearing from them.
Use “Yours sincerely” if you are sending the letter to a named person, otherwise use “Yours faithfully”. Add a few blank lines and finish with your name. The space between is used for your signature once printed.
Finally you may want to add your telephone number and email address beneath your name. Remember you want to make it easy for them to contact you.
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