Your covering letter is the first thing a prospective employer will see and they will judge you on it immediately. If they like what they read, they'll move on to your CV. If they don’t, your CV may not even be glanced at. To make sure your CV gets seen, follow our tips for writing a professional and impactful covering letter.
When sending your CV in response to a job advertisement, you should attach a brief covering letter of no more than one page in length. If you don’t know the person you’re writing to avoid using their first name - use their title and surname instead. Avoid writing to 'Dear Sir' or 'Dear Madam' - you should make the effort to find out the hirer's name. However, if you cannot personalise the letter then ensure you adhere to the standard conventions below:
letters beginning Dear Sir / Madam should close with Yours faithfully
letters beginning Dear Mr XXXXXX should close with Yours sincerely
The structure of your covering letter
Begin your letter by making a clear reference to the job role you’re applying for e.g. Re: Store Manager, Exeter Q84523
Stress that you’re very interested in the role and feel you are the best candidate
Highlight the skills you have and how they are relevant to the job but avoid quoting sections of you CV verbatim
Explain briefly why you want to work for this company in particular – demonstrate your knowledge of the organisation
Briefly state your reasons for seeking a new role but avoid being negative about your current employer / situation.
Close by reiterating your interest and that you can make yourself available for interview should they wish to meet with you
It's always worth adapting your covering letter to ensure it doesn't look like a one-size-fits-all letter of introduction. This may seem a lot of work but if you don’t tailor your covering letter it severely lessens its impact. Experienced recruiters will receive lots of standard covering letters and can spot these very easily.
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