A covering letter should immediately capture the reader's attention. It is often the first thing an employer will read, so it is vital that you create the right impression. Your CV should always be accompanied by a covering letter, unless the employer tells you otherwise.
A standard covering letter should include the following content:
- Be explicit about why you are writing to the employer: is it in response to an advert? Is this a speculative enquiry?
Be clear about your skills and what you can offer the employer: always highlight your skills which meet the job specification for the role.
Show an understanding of the company for which you are applying: show the employer that you have done your research, and have an awareness of the organisation.
Let them know when you are available for an interview: include any dates when you are not available due to holidays, health appointments etc.
It may be appropriate to send out a speculative letter to enquire whether an organisation has any vacancies or is looking to recruit in the future. The content of a speculative letter is similar to a standard covering letter, although you will need to change the introduction.
When sending a speculative letter you should try, where possible, to send it to a named contact. You could always ring the company first before sending, to ensure you have the right person. Make sure you do your research, and it is also worth ringing the company a few weeks after sending to ensure it has been picked up and seen.
Achieve maximum impact
When putting together a covering letter do not forget to:
Try to use just one side of A4, white, unlined paper.
Ensure your letter is laid out correctly, checking for spelling and grammar.
Always write a new covering letter for each position you apply for. DO NOT send out a generic letter to multiple organisations.
Always try to address the letter to a named contact within the organisation.
- Ensure your letter is typed unless the employer asks for a hand written letter.
Remember to keep copies of your letters, CV and application forms that you send out to employers, so that you have a record of what you wrote and who you sent it out to.
Covering Letter Information and Resources
The Careers Service can help you to develop and compile your covering letter. You can make an appointment to see a Careers Adviser or call in to one of our drop-in sessions.
For further help with covering letters please view the following tools and resources: