How to write a covering letter is a question often asked by people struggling to gain that all important job interview. By tackling this question we hope to improve your techniques in gaining a job interview and gaining employment.
These days everything seems to be web-based and that can also include applying for jobs! You may have heard people say that as everything is done over the internet these days that a covering letter for a job application is no longer needed. Well let me tell you this is not the case a professional covering letter is very important and will help your chances of ensuring you get the job interview in the first place.
Let me show you how.
A good cover letter describes why you are the perfect candidate for a particular job, it explains why the list of skills, qualifications and experience listed on your CV makes you such a fantastic candidate for the job in question. This is your opportunity to sell yourself and get that all important job interview.
The covering letter should be a concise one page letter that is sent my email or by snail mail accompanied by your CV. It should be divided into three paragraphs and be written in Arial or Times New Roman font and be of 12 point size.
The first paragraph should be very brief, ideally no more than two sentences. You need to say why you are writing, where you heard about the job and identify the most important reasons that make you the most qualified for this job.
Avoid starting the paragraph in an unconventional way such as with a question e.g. ‘So what makes me the hottest fashion editor to join the fashion and publishing industries in the last ten years?’. You would be far better advised to be more conventional e.g. ‘I am writing to apply for the post of fashion editor as advertised in the January edition of Vogue.’ If somebody referred you to the position don’t forget to mention this e.g. ‘Vivienne Westwood suggested I contacted you regarding the position of fashion editor advertised in the January edition of Vogue.’
The second sentence should describe why you are suitable for the position and encourage the employer to continue reading your letter. e.g. ‘ My experience in the fashion industry over the last ten years and my editing experience at Elle magazine over the last three years have given me the experience and understanding of the fashion and publishing industries and has enabled me to cope well under pressure and the drive to meet deadlines.’
The second paragraph of your covering letter establishes a clear connection between your education and experience with the specific relevant job skills that make you a suitable candidate for any given job. Referring to the job description and teaming up your relevant experience and qualifications can prove useful. Your second paragraph can be as long as six or seven sentences and should be started with a sentence that displays your knowledge of the company.
e.g. ‘Vogue magazine is often acknowledged as one of the most innovative and respected fashion magazines in publication.’
The second and further sentences of this paragraph should reassure your potential employer that you have the sufficient experience and skill sets needed for the specific job in question. It should be emphasised here – make sure you covering letter describes your specific skill sets to the employer.
e.g. ‘I am a highly motivated and focused individual who has a proven track record in both the fashion and publishing industry. Working with a team of highly respected fashion journalists at Elle has given me both the experience and skills needed to become the new editor at Vogue. I believe my BA in journalism coupled with my editing background means I would become a valuable asset to the existing Vogue magazine team.
Your third paragraph should ask for an interview and supply your contact information. This paragraph should be two to three sentences long at most. The focus of your covering letter should be your first and second paragraphs.
e.g. I would very much like to work at Vogue and would like to organise an interview where we can discuss the possibility of us working together in the future. You can contact me my telephone (your number) or you can contact me by email (your email).
Please don’t make the mistake of regurgitating your CV in your covering letter.
Your CV is a complete list of your experiences, qualifications and skills sets.
Your covering letter is your opportunity to make your application stand out from the pile of applications and should be used to highlight you relevant experience and qualifications to a specific job.
Understanding this difference and employing the skills detailed above when writing a professional covering letter will no doubt make your CV and job application stand out and ensure you gain that all important job interview.