• Covering Letters

    Usually you send a covering letter with your current CV; think of them as an ‘application package’. Use the same font type and size and quality of paper to create a strong professional impression. If you have been asked to send your application via email, you can either attach the covering letter, application and CV to an email which clearly explains that you have done this or use the covering letter as the text of the email and explain that you have attached the CV or application form.

    The employer may request a CV and covering letter as the start of the application process for a particular vacancy or you may decide to make a speculative application to an organisation to see if they have any opportunities that have not been advertised.

    Download our Covering Letters Guide »

    The golden rules of writing a good covering letter:

    1. Always include a covering letter - unless you are specifically told not to.
    2. Applicants who include a covering letter with their CV are 10% more likely to get a reply.

      Research by Forum 3
    3. Tailor it to the job - focus on the essential and desirable criteria on the job specification. You may start with a standardised letter, but just like with your CV, unless you adapt it carefully to the job requirements it’s meaningless and can be a little annoying for the employer!
    4. Don't write more than one page - an employer won't have time to read it and one page is enough!
    5. Make sure your grammar and spelling are perfect
    6. Applicants sending CVs and letters without spelling mistakes are 61% more likely to get a reply and 26% more likely to get an interview

      Research by Forum 3

    Have a structure - four simple steps:

    Paragraph 1.

    In your opening paragraph briefly describe your situation and where you saw the advert and specify the job you are applying for, for example, reference number (in case the recruiter has several jobs currently on offer).

    Paragraph 2.

    Articulate enthusiastically WHY you want to work for the company, what your motivation is and why you are interested in this particular post/sector. This will always require some research, you might find they are they rolling out new and interesting products or services or that they have been in the media recently.

    Paragraph 3.

    Focus in. Talk about your relevant skills and experience for the job - always focus on their key criteria/competencies. Then provide examples from part-time work and extra-curricular activities, highlighting evidence that you can actually do the job!

    You might say something like 'I set out below how I meet your criteria,' and then take each key criteria in turn citing your evidence, so if communication skills were the first criteria and problem solving the next:

    Communication skills: I regularly write reports and present these to tutors and other students in seminars. As a member of the debating society I take part in weekly debates and we have recently partnered with a school to help fifth form pupils develop their debating skills. This has given me confidence and the ability to communicate effectively with different audiences.

    Problem-solving: my degree and work experience has taught me to analyse problems by x,y,z.

    Paragraph 4.

    Sign off with a polite and positive ending, stating when you would be available for interview. Use 'yours sincerely' if you are addressing it to a named person or 'yours faithfully' if not. Ideally try to find a name, but with large organisations this is not always possible.

    See examples below: