So we’ve had plenty of advice on how to write the perfect CV here at Wannabe Hacks, but what about the other daunting task of writing a covering letter? Perhaps just as important as a C.V, it is what completes your application and determines whether you get that dream job… or not. So here a few tips on how to get your covering letter noticed…and not because its atrocious spelling mistakes!
Some jobs nowadays do not even ask for a covering letter, a lot ask for short article ideas but that is beside the point. My current job didn’t ask for a letter but I wrote a short one anyway as I think it is a great way of explaining why you want the job and why they should hire you.
First things first, I would advise not to copy the body of your covering letter into your email. The editor is likely not to read all the emails themselves, but get an assistant to print out the many applications they receive. Instead, Attach your CV and covering letter to the email to avoid confusion (and your carefully worded letter ending up in the bin.) Other people have advised to work systemically when applying for jobs, as it could be very easy to simply forget to attach your CV or covering letter before hitting send…check and then double-check.
Addressing the letter…to title or not to title that is the question.
The first big dilemma of writing a covering letter is how to address it. First names, surnames or both?! Exactly how formal should you address your letter is a tricky one. Working in the media tends to be less formal than say, a corporate environment, so if you have the full name of the recipient I personally would not add their title. If the name is provided in the advertisement, use it and address it in the style that they have written it. If no name is provided, only a @info or recruitment address then do some research of your own and find out whom you should address the letter to. Make a quick call to the office if you can’t find the name online, this will show initiative and that you are going out of your way to impress.
Keep the layout smart
I layout my covering letter like how you would address a traditional letter, with my address, email address, mobile number and date on the right hand side. This adds formality to the structure of your letter and provides yet another space for your potential future employers to see your contact details… making it even easier for them to pick up the phone and reply to you Make sure your contact details are on your CV as well as covering letter, so they have no excuses not to contact you.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty…the body of the letter. One essential tip, as tempting as it may be….
NEVER use a CV or covering letter template, it’s something that employers will be able to spot and every covering letter and even CV should be tailored to each specific role you apply for. It’s time-consuming I know, we’ve all been there…writing out covering letter after covering letter can get pretty tiresome but you never know which letter might catch your future boss’s eye.
Start off with a formal introduction of yourself, for example “I am an enthusiastic and motivated English literature graduate whom is interested in the *position* *organisation* is offering..you get the drift.
Try not to drivel for pages or even paragraphs long but keep to the point in short and punchy sentences that say exactly what you want to get across to your future employer. Always keep the covering letter to one side of A4, a few paragraphs should do.
Perhaps start off by stating what attracted you to the job in the first place, why the role is suited for you and why you want to work for the particular company. Show that you have researched the organisation and that you know what they do. As much as you want to talk about your skills and interests, remember that essentially the employer is looking for a match for their job description.
This is why I always tend to reiterate parts of the job advertisement, so if they state that they need someone who has experience of working in a fast paced environment or has certain skills: mention this in your covering letter. Of course, do not literally copy them word for word but pick up key words that they use like “motivated” or mention the skills they desire, like proficient in in-design.
By all means flaunt your key skills and qualifications (hey, if you can’t brag in a covering letter, where can you?!) but essentially remember what the employer is looking for , so keep it relevant and highlight the skills they want from you. Your second paragraph is where you can talk about what you can offer them, from what you have learnt from your past experiences or previous courses etc. *Remember a covering letter should not be just a duplicate of your CV, it should compliment and add to it so try not to simply repeat the content!*
Last but certainly not least, in your last paragraph state when you are available for an interview and that you look forward to hearing from them soon. Always end formally, if you do not know their name; yours faithfully and yours sincerely, if you have addressed your letter to a person’s name. Handy, I didn’t know that before either.
Hope these tips have helped if you have any further covering letter advice please feel free to comment below or tweet us @wannabehacks. Do you address your covering letter like you would a traditional letter- or is that just me? How would formal would you go when writing your letter? Let us know!
Image courtesy of Svadilfari.
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