How to write a successful Covering Letter

So we have achieved the perfect CV but now it has come to sending out the applications to the actual companies – cue the long awaited covering letter!

The web definition of a Covering Letter is ‘a letter sent along with other documents to provide additional information’, which does pretty much summarise the overall idea of a covering letter.

However I personally prefer to liken a covering letter to a chat up line.

Simply put a covering letter is the small window of opportunity where you have to get across how you are the best candidate for the Job & that you should be invited for an interview. With a chat up line it is the chance you have to make a good impression so you can move on to the actual conversation.

(Okay so a chat up line might be the worst example ever but you get my drift!)

After the CV this stage is easier but time consuming & there are a few rules you need to follow to create a successful Covering Letter.

RESEARCH

You need to make sure that in this letter you get across the fact you actually know something about the company & that you haven’t just sent out a standard letter to thousands of jobs. Prove to them you care.

To achieve this you actually need to do some research on the company.

1st POINT OF CALL: The Website

This is the place where 90% of the information you shall mention in the CL will come from – it tells you everything you need to know about the company by explaining what they do, who they are & future plans.

2nd RESEARCH POINT: Google

Google is your best friend in these situations – half an hour reading any articles about the company about events they have run, people they have hired etc & you will be full of facts about the company! Even if it doesn’t make it onto the CL you sure as hell will mention it in the interview.

The Idea of the research is that you feel comfortable talking about the company & that you are actually interested to work for them – if the stuff they do isn’t appealing to you then don’t apply – instead look & find opportunities that fit in with your interests.

The research you do will come across in the CL if you fit it in & make it flow. Don’t just copy & paste of add things in for the sake of it – make it fit with what you are trying to say. You want to show them that the experience you have fits in with what they do.

However sometimes the fact a company is so different to any you have previously worked for can also work in your favour IF you showcase a passion to learn.

I applied to work at Texas Instruments out in Germany – after sending across my CV & CL I got through to a telephone interview & then down to the final interviews – sadly I didn’t get offered the position but my CL saw me through to the next stage. Here is part of my middle paragraph, where I showed I new about TI & what they did.

Texas Instruments (TI) is a really interesting company and the placement opportunity is a very different one to others I have looked at, which is one of the reasons I am so interested in applying. Because the companies main function is developing computer technology and semiconductors the events organisation will be very different to what I have already worked on in event companies and this is one of the main reasons for my application.

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GIVE YOURSELF TIME!

The hardest thing about CL is the time it takes to write them – I felt it took longer to write than my CV because you are having to tailor it to every application.

You are also trying to express yourself more than you did in your CV, the CL is more about showcasing how the work & jobs you have done make you a viable candidate whereas the CV just needed to showcase what you did in your previous jobs. The CL also needs to flow, it has to be an easy read that links together & makes sense, just like an essay or blog post might.

Tricks

The tricks I learnt was to always have a template that would be my starting point for all the CL. It included my opening paragraph which was the same all the time & elements of my final paragraph that had areas for add in’s for each job.

The only element that had to be written each time was the middle one.

The ‘i-did-do-research-honest’ part!


I also gave myself time & left the CL for a few days before I looked over it again. I also mentioned this in the CV post as it is a great why to spot mistakes & see the whole piece of work with fresh new eyes!

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COVERING LETTER TEMPLATE

Now here is how I went about laying up my Covering Letter & the amount of paragraphs I had. I wanted it to be simple, to the point & concise. A lot of people say to have 4-5 paragraphs but my simple layout got me through to 8 interviews out of the 11 I applied for.

Dear Sir/Madam
R.E (Job Position) at (Company Name) 

A short opening paragraph that explains why you are writing the letter. I said that I am a second year event management student @ the University of Gloucestershire looking for a 12 month paid placement.  

This second paragraph is where you write about the company & why you want to work for them. It is good to mention things on their website, companies they have worked for etc. I used to finish mine with a sentence about how my work experience fits in with what the company does.  

This final paragraph is where you talk about what you will bring to the company. Explain what you are good at and talk about the range of work you have done that is relevant to the job position. You are selling yourself in this paragraph – put your best foot forward! 

I have attached my CV, and another copy of this covering letter, and I look forward to hearing from you. I can be contacted on (phone number) or by email (email address) 

Yours sincerely,
(your name)

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RULES TO REMEMBER

  • Tailor the CL towards the company you are applying for. The saying ‘one size fits all’ does NOT apply here! 
  • Check the damn spelling & grammar! 
  • Check that you have filled in spaces for Company Name etc! 
  • If you are emailing the companies put the CL in the main body of the email & attach a copy! (along with your CV) 
  • Stick to one page of A4 paper! 

WEBSITES TO CHECK OUT 

How to write a successful covering letter – by the University of Kent
Covering Letters – by Prospects.ac.uk
How to write a covering letter – by Jobsite Insider

The links above give you some more tips & tricks as well as showing you some template CL that might help with the wording of yours.

Applying for Jobs is hard work but the best thing you can do it keep at it! GOOD LUCK!

& remember to keep an eye out for the next post & do not forget to follow this blog on twitter!

  • Anonymous

    well done – great help

  • Anonymous

    Great help. Thanks