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50 years of success - Established 1974

50 Years of Success
Established in 1974

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.control of your career"

How to write a covering letter for your CV

First let’s think about why we need a covering letter. A CV is pretty impersonal and does not give you the chance to show your  personality at all – it is simply a statement of facts about your achievements. The cover letter, on the other hand, does allow you to show more of your personality, showcase your writing ability and demonstrate how and why you are suitable for the job. As with all business correspondence, there are a number of protocols you should follow to ensure your letter comes across as professional.

10 Tips to Make You Covering Letter Look the Business!

The tips below will make your covering letter look the business. It’ll show off your writing skills and impress any potential employers:

Tip One – “Why should I interview this person?” Keep this question in mind when writing your covering letter, as it’s what is in the mind of the person reading it. It should help you tailor your letter so you appear an irresistible employment prospect, and get you an interview.

Tip Two – Think of your covering letter as part of the CV. It’s rather like the first page of it, so you should put it on the same paper, use the same font style and size and the margins should match. And, make sure you paper-clip your covering letter to your CV so they don’t become separated.

Tip Three – Brief, clear and concise. These three words are important and you should keep them in mind when you are writing your letter. Get to the point quickly, don’t waffle or over-complicate things. The recipient does not need to know what games you liked to play as a child, or where you last went on holiday. They need to know, in the first paragraph, what position you are applying for, where you heard about it and why you are the most suitable candidate for the job. Make sure you include paragraphs and adequate line spacing so your letter is easy to read. And, if your finished piece totals more than one A4 page, it’s too long!

Tip Four – Avoid using catch-phrases or cliches and try not to sound pompous or hackneyed. For example the phrase ‘I have excellent communication skills’ is over-used and unimaginative. You should try to be as original as possible.

Tip Five – Compliment your prospective employer. You should always find out the name of the person you are writing to – it’s much more personal and gives the impression that you’ve made an effort to create a letter specifically for them. You could also try to include some complimentary comments about the company in your letter, but be subtle. For example, ‘you are known for your high quality service’ would be a good way say how much you’d like to work for them without gushing.

Tip Six – Be formal. Don’t use abbreviations or contractions and never use colloquialisms or overly familiar language, such as ‘Hi Mate’, ‘Cheers’ and so on. They look unprofessional and are not part of the accepted format of a business letter.

Tip Seven – Try to avoid using ‘I’ too often. Imagine how a letter with a whole page of ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that’ would look – not very good! It also gives the impression that you’ve not thought about what the company wants.

Tip Eight – Highlight how your skills will make you a valuable asset to the company and relate the skills you have to those detailed as being essential for the position advertised. And, don’t just say “I am a good communicator” – give an example to demonstrate it.

Tip Nine – Always mention when you are able to start and be as flexible as you can.

Tip Ten – Proofread, proofread, proofread! It may seem like an obvious suggestion, but you’d be surprised how the brain has a habit of inserting words where it thinks they should be. So, once you think you’ve finished your letter, put it to one side for a couple of days. Then come back to it with fresh eyes and read through again. And, if you can, let someone else read it too – they might spot things you’ve missed.

If you’d like to improve other aspects of your business writing why not request a prospectus for one of our courses. We have three courses that focus on business writing: Business English with Spoken English, Advanced Business English and Comprehensive Business Writing. And with our free trial period, you have the chance to look through the course to decide if it fits your needs, so you’ve nothing to lose.