Covering letters, or cover letters, are a type of letter sent with a CV or resume when applying for a job. Often cover letters are not read until after the CV or resume has been reviewed. Despite this, they provide an invaluable opportunity to communicate directly with your prospective employer.
Why write a covering letter?
The purpose of a covering letter is threefold:
- To sell yourself and convince the employer of your suitability and enthusiasm for the role.
- To highlight any particular information from your CV or resume which is especially notable or relevant.
- To communicate any other information such as special circumstances or availability for interview.
All covering letters should adopt a simple, concise and formal style.
Example Cover Letter
64 Minehead Avenue Withington Manchester M20 1FW Telephone: 07123 456 789 Email: email@example.com
Mr Graham Stoker
Graduate Recruitment Manager
16 Arlington Road
25 October 2010
Dear Mr Stoker,
Re: 355/001: Graduate Trainee – Audit
I would like to apply for the graduate trainee - audit programme, currently advertised on WikiJob.co.uk. I enclose my CV for your consideration.
I first became interested in audit during my first year of university, when I attended a presentation by Smith Partners. Audit appeals to my long standing interests in business and mathematics, and I feel is a function that would allow me to see projects through from start to finish, working relatively autonomously.
I am particularly attracted to working at Smith Partners because of the firm‘s excellent reputation, focus on client value, and the opportunity to train for the CIMA qualification, which will help me develop my skills and career. I met with current graduate trainees at the Smith Partners September open day and was impressed by the friendliness of employees and very positive descriptions of working life, at the firm.
I come from an advanced academic and analytical background having completed a degree in finance and mathematics at the University of Manchester and believe I am well qualified to add value to the audit team at Smith Partners. I have extensive experience working as an accounts clerk at Driftbridge Plc, speak several foreign languages and have advanced workplace skills in management, people development and presenting. Having completed a degree and taken a gap year, I feel I am now ready to take up the challenge of full employment.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I am available for interview from 31st October onwards, and look forward to taking the opportunity to talk with you further about my application.
Top 3 Tips:
- Always write to a specific individual - never address covering letters to Dear 'Sir' or 'Madam'. Use "Mr", "Mrs", "Miss" or "Ms" and then your contact's surname. Never use their first name.
- Tailor your letters to each application - don't mass produce them. You will undoutedly get more interviews by sending out a small number of well written covering letters, than by sending out many poorly written ones.
- Keep things concise - three or four brief paragraphs is fine. A covering letter should be a maximum of one A4 page.
- Mention any relevant qualifications – in this case a degree.
- Mention any relevant work experience – in this case, working as an accounts clerk at Driftbridge.
- Refer to any training or details mentioned in the advert – in the case above we referred to CIMA.
- Remember to compliment firms on their reputation or other characteristics.
- Letters addressed it to a specific person, should be signed with ‘Yours sincerely’. Letters addresses to Sir/Madam should be signed 'Yours Faithfully'.
- Include your mobile telephone number in the letter.
- If the work was in a specific industry (e.g. tax advice), we would have mentioned this too, and why we are interested & suitable.
- Keep your covering letter concise - only use one side of A4 paper.
In conclusion, you must do the following:
- Highlight any relevant experience & qualifications (degree & current role)
- Show a desire to work for an employer (in this case, reputation & client focus)
- Explain why you want the job & what the benefit to you is (in this case, CIMA training).
- Indicate how you can be reached.
Use the structure set out in the example cover letter as a guide. Make sure that when your letter is finished your spelling and grammar is flawless. A carelessly written cover letter will almost certainly guarantee a rejection.