A perfectly tuned CV should always be accompanied by a tailored covering letter that specifically addresses the role you are applying for. Our top tips will help you to craft something effective:
1. Use a professional format
Even if you're not putting it in the post, take the time to make your covering letter look like a letter by including your address and the address of the person you're sending it to. For obvious reasons it's considered 'bad form' to apply for a job using the headed letter paper of your current employer. It's best to keep the format plain and simple. Adding a scanned copy of your signature at the bottom though lends a touch of class and is a subtle way of signalling that you know your way around a computer.
2. Include a subject line
Make it clear what the letter is in connection with by including the job title and any reference number you're aware of as part of a clear subject line. It's also helpful if you can note where you saw the role advertised.
3. Send it as an attachment
If you're emailing an application then don't put the text of your covering letter in the message body of the email. Instead, save and attach it as a separate document so that it can be easily stored electronically alongside your CV.
4. Make it bespoke
Tailor the content to the specific role in question. Mail merges or other shortcuts are easy to pick out and every recruiter will have horror stories of receiving letters with ‘[Insert Company Name Here]’ still in the middle of a paragraph. There's no substitute for reflecting on and engaging with the particular details of a position.
5. Match yourself to the person specification
By taking the points outlined in the person specification one-by-one and making a few short comments about your personal fit with each of the criteria, you can make it crystal clear to the person reading your application how well suited you are for the role.
6. Feel free to use bullet points
The start and end of your covering letter should be in full sentences and written in the first person, however when tackling the elements of the person specification you can afford to use bullets if it makes your points easier to communicate.
7. Send it to the right person
Find out who's handling, or ultimately responsible for, the appointment and address the letter to them. But make sure to double check their role title and the spelling of their name.
8. Keep it short
A couple of sides is the maximum amount of space you should allow yourself for a covering letter. Brevity is the goal.
9. Communicate your interest
Don't forget to state that you're genuinely interested in the role and say a bit about why you wish to be considered. To forget this risks coming across as detached and aloof.
10. Proof read carefully
Once again, make sure that what you have produced is free from careless errors and typos before you send it. Get someone to run a critical eye over what you've written.