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How to write a covering letter

When responding to an advertised job vacancy, whether via letter, email or fax, you should always include a covering letter with your CV

A covering letter introduces you and your CV and is your first chance to make a good impression on your potential employer. After all, that cover letter may be the deciding factor during the final short listing of candidates. Your CV should not be sent without one!

Whilst we cannot prescribe a formula for writing a covering letter they should be personalised, not standard documents, and follow some basic guidelines.

1. Write a concise, straight to the point cover letter

Whatever the method of your application (handwritten or typed), ensure your letter is neatly and clearly presented on paper of a similar size and quality to your CV. Write a concise and compact cover letter that includes all essential information. Do not overdo it with elaborate phrases and sentences and more importantly do not just blindly copy the same information you have put up in your CV.

Tell the potential employer a little about themselves to demonstrate you have properly read the advert and that you have done some research into the organisation.

Also state why you are interested in them as an employer. You need to succinctly emphasise why an employer may want to meet and recruit you. Highlight your transferable skills, achievements and versatility; what you can contribute and what makes you different.

2. Address the position correctly

Write your intention by addressing the exact position you’re applying for in your cover letter. “I’m writing to apply for the position of Marketing Manager as advertised recently” sounds a lot better than “I’m writing to apply for any job vacancy”. Its shows you did your homework.

3. Make a good closure

Indicate your interest in the position and that you look forward to a mutually beneficial discussion with the employer. You’re selling yourself here and it is particularly important for you to get the employer to conclude that you may be ‘just the right person for the job’. Finish off your cover letter with “yours sincerely” and do not forget the important part – enclose your resume!

4. Proofread

Turn on the spelling and grammar tools and make sure you proofread every line of your covering letter and accompanying CV. Spelling tools may not be 100% accurate, so get friends and colleagues to go through the cover letter and suggest any areas for improvement.

 Thought leadership

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