Free Advice on Covering Letters
Keep it brief
A covering letter should not be complicated. One A4 page is the maximum length that it should be. It is certainly not necessary to go into details and repeat information which is included in your CV.
Why send a covering letter at all?
The purpose of a covering letter is to deliver your CV. It can also be used to include information about you which is not appropriate for inclusion in the CV. You might, for example, explain that you have moved house so you are seeking to relocate your employment.
There is nothing wrong with a neatly handwritten letter, but this will depend upon the type of job you are applying for. It may be that you would like to demonstrate that you have neat handwriting. This can be a considerable asset in some jobs, but increasingly less so nowadays. On the other hand, if the job has to do with computers, then a Word-processed document would be more appropriate.
How to address the letter
Be careful that you address the letter exactly as it appears in the advertisement. Although many of the conventions in letter writing are now considered to be old fashioned, you should be careful that you demonstrate good manners. For example, do not address somebody that you don’t know by their first name, unless you have been invited to do so.
Put your contact details on the top right hand corner, or across the centre of the page. Below this you should put the address of the person you have been instructed to contact with ‘For the attention of ….’ if appropriate. The heading of the letter should be the job description and details of where you saw it advertised. At the end of the covering letter it is better to put ‘yours sincerely’ followed by your own name.
What to say
This will vary from one case to another, but remember it is not a good idea to repeat the information in your CV. Beware of making your covering letter look as though it is a duplicated letter which has been sent for a number of jobs. Include anything which is relevant to this particular job application and which is not included in your CV. It is also a good idea to put in something which describes why you are particularly attracted to the job on offer.
Read the letter through very carefully. Check for spelling mistakes, or ask somebody else to do so if you are unsure and don’t forget to enclose your CV. A stamped addressed envelope for the benefit of their reply may also be a good idea.
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