What to write:
Your covering letter should start with a brief introduction, clearly stating that you’re interested in applying for the job. It should also include details of where you learnt about the role and include a reference number, if necessary.
Here’s an example:
Dear Mrs. Recruiter,
Please find enclosed my CV in application for the role you advertised on Jobs4.com on January 21st 2012 (reference number 3042).
Next, tell the recruiter why you’ve decided to apply for the job. For example, did your degree course contain modules that have prepared you for the role? Is the company one you’ve been passionate following since starting out in the field? Do you have relevant, related vocational work experience?
Use the covering letter to demonstrate that you have researched the company and try to communicate this in your letter. Don’t write anything too obvious and cliché, but rather, try and include a few subtleties that hint at your in-depth research. For example, you could work in a mention of the company’s most recent accolade or remark on your admiration for an event recently covered by the media.
Remember : your covering letter should be used as a tool for selling yourself! Highlight your skills and experiences and use it as an additional opportunity to drill home why you are the ideal candidate for the role:
As you can see from my CV, in addition to my First Class degree in this field, I have recently completed a work experience placement at ABC Corp, which provided me with crucial skills that I can bring to the role. These include X, Y and Z.
In your penultimate paragraph, outline the times when you are available for an interview. Additionally, it may pay to mention your other current commitments, giving employers an idea of your approximate start date.
Finally, tell the recruiters you look forward to hearing back from them and reiterate your contact details so they can arrange that all-important interview!
Tips for writing a good covering letter:
Use one sheet of A4 paper: plain white printer paper is generally acceptable. If you fancy making an impression, print your covering letter on a fancy pale blue or light yellow cardstock.
Address your letter to a person at the company, even if this requires a phone call to find out who is handling the applications.
Make sure you proofread your letter and do ask somebody else to give it the once over too. Perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation shows potential employers that you give due care and attention to every task you undertake. These are admiral qualities in a new recruit!
Always use a professional tone in your covering letter, but remember to avoid overly technical jargon, especially if you’re forcing it in to make it sound as if you’re more knowledgeable about the field. Aim to write around only five paragraphs, which means you’ll need to keep your letter clear, concise and to the point.
Finally, and most importantly, tailor your covering letter to each specific role for which you apply. Each covering letter must answer the recruiter’s principal question: “Why should I interview this person for this role”.