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How to write a covering letter

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A good covering letter is essential when looking for work as it is an important part of the recruitment process yet often rushed as an afterthought.  This is usually your first contact with a recruiter and your opportunity to make a positive impact and impress a future employer.

Download our covering letter template

Where to start with your covering letter

Start by researching the company and understand the job role. This research will help you tailor your covering letter accordingly. A bespoke letter will make the employer feel like you’ve spent the time and effort to write the letter. 

How to structure a covering letter

Your covering letter should be structured like any other formal letter with your address in the top right-hand corner and the date underneath and the company’s address on the left. It’s important that you address the letter to the correct person. If the person to whom to apply is not stated in the job advert, make the effort to call the employer and find out. This will show that you’re willing to make the effort. Otherwise, using ‘Dear Sir / Madam’ will suffice. 

The opening paragraph should be short, simply explaining why you’re writing and where you found out about the vacancy. 

For example: “I would like to apply for the position of ‘Medical Receptionist’, as seen advertised on...” 

In your next paragraph, state, with reference to the job description, why you are suitable for the job. Briefly talk about specific skills and experiences and how they relate to the job you’re applying for. 

Next, put down what you can do for the company. In this section, you could outline your career goal, if it’s relevant to the position you’re applying for.

In the concluding paragraph you should sum up the main points in your letter, reiterating your interest in the position and why you would be the perfect candidate. Point out that you’d like to meet with the employer to discuss the role further and tell them when you’re available to start work, as this could put you at an advantage if you’re available immediately.   

How you close your letter will depend on how you addressed it. If you’ve started the letter with ‘Dear Mr so and so’, close with ‘Yours sincerely’. You close with ‘Yours faithfully’ if you’ve addressed the letter to ‘Sir or Madam’.

Things to remember

  • Keep your cover letter concise, no more than one side of A4
  • Use a regular font on white paper 
  • If emailing, put your covering letter in the body of the email; a blank email with the covering letter and CV attached may be mistaken for spam
  • Use your covering letter to overcome any potential issues such as gaps in your CV, job hopping, etc.
  • Proofreading is a necessity.  A well-written letter can quickly become a real turn-off if it’s littered with simple mistakes
  • Originality is key. Spend the time on your letter that it deserves. This will speak volumes to your potential employer

Taking the time to write a compelling covering letter will help you land that job. Good luck!

 

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