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Career Management

A Positive Impression

- Your Covering Letter

What is it about constructing a covering letter that makes some people freeze? Maybe it’s the thought that having to summarise our entire experience, skills and personality on a single side of A4 is a very tall order. So much so that it can stifle even the most prolific letter writer. We offer some practical guidance on how to get started

Like most things, writing a covering letter is simply a matter of being organised - the hardest part is actually getting started! A strong framework can offer the structure you need to get started...and the safest approach is to give your covering letter a beginning, a middle and an end. A bit like this really:

Opening paragraph
Introduce yourself, the job you are applying for and how you heard about it. Also, if you have already spoken to the prospective employer, don’t forget to mention it. For example: Dear Ms Smith, following our conversation this morning I am writing to confirm my interest in the position of…

Main Text
Think about the position advertised and about the skills and experience you can offer in relation to what the employer is seeking.  Don’t go into too much detail, as your CV will do this for you. The letter needs to grab the employer’s interest and ensure that you will be invited to an interview.

While it is perfectly acceptable to promote yourself in the most positive light possible, try to do this without seeming arrogant or boastful. Remember too that you must be scrupulously honest and able to back up any claims you make about your education, skills and personality! Check our Positive Mental Attitude list below to identify the qualities that best describe you.

Closing Paragraph
Restate your interest, your suitability for the position and your availability for interview. Explain that you have attached your CV and close with a phrase such as: I look forward to your reply.

On signing off from the letter, the traditional rule is that if you have referred to the employer by name you should write ‘Yours sincerely’; if you don’t have a name and started with Dear Sir/Madam, you should write ’Yours faithfully’. Also, don’t forget your signature with your name printed underneath.

Unless you are trying to demonstrate that you are wildly creative and unconventional, your letter should:

  • Be on good quality A4 plain white paper
  • Be typed in black ink and in a readable font
  • Be smart with consistent layout and spacing
  • Be dated
  • Be addressed properly – traditionally with your address at the top right and the prospective employer’s address starting on the left hand side of the page

So, next time you are putting off applying for a job because you just ‘don’t know where to start’, why not simply follow the steps outlined above and get writing. Your future career may be only a few paragraphs away!

Positive Mental Attitude
Always remember that you can add a positive edge to your covering letter because you are…

A team player 
An excellent communicator 
Able to work under pressure 
Willing to learn 
Well organised 
Computer literate 

Good humoured 

…aren’t you!





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