What is a Covering Letter?
We’re asked this question a lot, and I mean, a lot. It seems like one of those things we’re just expected to know, and many people will go ahead and give-it-a-go, with no real idea of what they should be writing.
You might be getting on just fine, but it’s good to know that you’re doing it right even if that’s the case.
The first thing I always try get people to think about is, well, why this thing called a ‘cover letter ’even exists? And to answer that we need to go back in time, to that distant land before emails and online applications.
Imagine this; you’re a busy operations manager, and you collect your post from reception. You open an envelope, and inside is nothing but a CV. What department? What position? Why should I even bother reading this? These are all questions going unanswered, and so, you guessed it, in the bin it goes.
Imagining it in this way can really illustrate the practical function of your cover letter. Above all, it gives you, and your CV some context.
Not only that but it gives you an opportunity to inject some of your personality and enthusiasm into your application; whilst cover letters are in no way a rigid document, there are still some really useful things that you can include to give yourself the best possible chance.
1. The position you’re applying for and where you saw it advertised.
“Dear Rachel Zouch, please find attached my CV for your consideration for the role of Sales Assistant which I found advertised on the YES website”
2. Use names, if you know them.
As you can see in the example above, it’s written to the hiring manager by name (not Dear sir/madam). It’s not always possible to find out the hiring managers name, but quite often you’ll find it within the application details.
3. Go all in.
Here’s your opportunity, to really get one up on the other applicants, If you’re able to write a compelling cover letter, which is backed up with your CV, your chances of getting an interview are much improved. Outline why you’re applying for that role, but also to that company; and then go on to explain what you can bring, again to both the role, but also the company as a whole. (This will also show that you’ve done your homework and looked into their company!)
Make sure you express your thanks in advance for considering your application, and that you look forward to hearing from them in the near future regardless of the outcome.
In general, you wouldn’t want to write too much, sometimes you can say all you need to in just a few sentences, and it’s never wise to be verbose. A paragraph is around about what you’re aiming for. Something short, sweet, and snappy is all that’s needed.
Even after this explanation, you might still doubt yourself when it comes to writing something with impact…if only there was a free to use Youth Employment Service which you could get in touch with
to ask. Oh right, yeah, of course, that’s us! If you’d like one of our team to have a chat with you, look over a cover letter, and help you out with your CV, you’re welcome to get in touch.
The best email address would be firstname.lastname@example.org and either Adam, Ross, or Louise will be the ones who get in touch with you. Alternatively, you could always use the online booking system.