How To Write A Covering Letter

Why is a cover letter so important?

A cover letter tells the employer the type of position you are seeking and exactly how you are qualified for that position.

Your cover letter can explain things that your CV can't. If you have large gaps in your employment history, you are re-entering the job market or changing the focus of your career, a cover letter can explain these circumstances in a positive way.

What to include

Expanding on the information in your CV, a cover letter should state in no uncertain terms why you should get the job. Everything it includes should encourage the recruiter to give your CV the attention it deserves. Be positive, include any relevant skills that you have and emphasise why you would be suitable for the job.

Research

Before you sit down to write your cover letter, do some research on the company and the job you’re applying for. Things to know include what the company does, their competitors and their market positioning. Not only will carrying out this research give you the knowledge you require to tailor your cover letter and CV to the style of the company, it also demonstrates that you have a real interest in the role and the company itself and if you get an interview you will have already done your research into the company.

Suggested layout

Addressing your cover letter: It may sound obvious, but when writing a cover letter you should always try to address the letter to the person handling job applications. This is usually listed in the job advert. If you're unsure of the right contact, don't be afraid to call the company to ask for a name. After all, there's no harm in showing initiative.

Include the job reference number if there is one in the job details. Enter it below the opening line. For example:

Dear Mrs...
Re: Job reference 345

Opening Paragraph: This should be short and to the point. Explain the reason why you are writing.

Example:
'I would like to be considered for the position of Production Manager.

You can also mention where you found the job advertisement, i.e on your company website or through the job centre.

Second paragraph: Describe why you would be suitable for the job. Include any relevant professional and academic qualifications and refer to the skills you have, that have been listed in the job description.

Third paragraph: Emphasise your interest in the role and why you would be the right fit for the role. It’s also a good time to mention when you would be free for an interview.

Closing the letter: If you start with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, end with ‘Yours faithfully’. If you start with the person’s name (for example, ‘Dear Mrs Smith’, end with ‘Yours sincerely’

Finally…

Remember to include your name, address, email address, phone number, the date and enclose/attach a copy of your CV. Double-check your spelling and grammar before sending the letter.

Ask a friend or relative to check over your letter before you send it and make sure your application arrives on time. If you are posting it, allow for delays. If your application is late, the company might not even consider it and your time will have been wasted.