Perfect Cover Letter Uk

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Using a cinema analogy, if your CV is a big-budget blockbuster then your covering letter should be the short and enticing movie trailer.

Your covering letter is an important document - a key part of your application to a prospective employer. It is surprising that jobseekers often pay scant attention to it. Many candidates fail even to write one and only submit their CV or application form. Craft a strong covering letter and your application could really stand out from the crowd. So if it's of such importance you'll need to know how to  produce the perfect covering letter. That's where we step in.

1. Always send one!
2. Don't rewrite your CV
3. First paragraph and last line
4. Talk about the company
5. Provide quality evidence of your qualities
6. Reflect your personality
7. Relevant and brief
8. Contact details
9. Sign the letter
10. Neatness/ presentation

1. Always send one!

The covering letter's job is actually two fold. At its basic level, the standard one-page covering letter performs a simple courtesy function. It is a socially acceptable way of introducing you and explaining which vacancy you're applying for or which area you are enquiring about. It also provides the recruiter with a handy list of your contact details.

2. Don't rewrite your CV

It should provide edited, juicy highlights from your CV. But it should not merely repeat what the CV includes but rather distils the key themes into one place.

3. First Paragraph and last line

Don't waffle in your first paragraph, make the reason you're writing clear and sell yourself; writing what makes you better than others straight off. Finish with a call to action, request they contact you for a meeting or interview and let them know you will be in touch to discuss.

4. Talk about the company

Do some research into the company/ organisation and include information about them. Specifically tell them what you are impressed with and what attracts you to them.

5. Provide quality evidence of your qualities

Pick out the top 3 or 5 (max) qualities the employer is seeking in their advert or job specification if there is one. These should be qualities that you have already covered in your CV.

And they should be the 3 to 5 things that you refer to - not explain - briefly in your covering letter. Provide concrete examples and solid numbers wherever you can. For example, after you've introduced yourself in your letter you could include lines similar to these:

"You will see from my enclosed CV that I match your requirements precisely. I have worked in the Web industry for over 10 years and have led a number of development teams that have ranged in size from 5 to 20 people."

Or

"You will see from my CV that I have worked in both the USA and Canada and have worked in senior positions on aerospace contracts ranging from £15m to £180m"

Your covering letter then is an additional 'sales' document...selling you

6. Reflect your personality

Ensure the letter shows how motivated and enthusiastic you are. Do not include negative comments. Try to use dynamic acting verbs for each skill you are explaining, such as:

Research - Analysed, clarified

People skills - Collaborated, communicated

Teaching - Instilled, motivated

7. Relevant and brief

A well written letter should draw the recruiter's eye to relevant experience on your CV. It is a, admittedly brief, space in which you draw a positive pen-picture of you in the mind of the employer. Ensure it is never more than a page long.

8. Contact details

Where ever possible send your letter and CV to a named individual, particularly if it is more of an enquiry than a specific role application. Research using websites, ask friends and colleagues if they know of anyone or ring through to reception and get yourself a name and job title. It will look a lot better than sir/ madam.

9. Sign the letter

Unless you've had to sign an application form, your covering letter is the only place where you provide your signature. This may seem old fashioned in this digital age but it's still a strong signal of your authenticity.

10. Neatness/ presentation

Finally, make sure your covering letter is clearly laid out with no typos or spelling errors. Do this and, compared to many jobseekers, you'll already stand out as an impressive candidate!


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by Michael Cheary

Calling all jobseekers: your cover letter needs you…

Even if you know everything about the perfect cover letter, putting one together can seem like a stressful ordeal. Not only do you have to think about the contents, you also have to consider what structure and formatting will make it stand out.

We’ve already covered what a cover letter is and how to write a cover letter, but if you’re still feeling frustrated when it comes to formatting – here’s our cover letter template to help you get started:

 

Download Free Cover Letter Template

 

Opening the letter

Once you’ve covered the letter writing basics (address, hiring manager’s name if you have it), the opening paragraph should be short and to the point.

Explain what job you’re applying for and where you found the vacancy.

Feel free to mention the website by name (e.g. ‘as advertised on reed.co.uk’) or, if someone referred you to the contact, mention their name in this section.

Example: 
Iwish to apply for the role of IT Manager, currently being advertised on reed.co.uk. Please find enclosed my CV for your consideration.

How to overcome common cover letter problems

 

Second paragraph – Why are you suitable for the job?

Briefly describe your professional and academic qualifications that are relevant to the role and ensure you refer to some of the skills listed in the job description.

If you have no specific academic or vocational qualifications to cite, use your relevant experience to win merit.

And if you’re lacking in practical work experience? Use personal skills or attributes to show what makes you the perfect fit for the role.

Example:
As you can see from my attached CV, I have over three years’ experience in the IT Industry, and I believe the knowledge and skills built up during this time make me the perfect candidate for the role.

Five things you need to stop doing on your cover letter

Third paragraph – What can you do for the company?

Use practical examples to emphasise what you can do for the company. These might be performance-based, and could include examples from previous positions, your current job or even from your academic career.

Always make sure your examples are as quantifiable and pertinent as possible. ‘Increased revenue by x%’, for instance, sounds a lot more impressive than simply stating you ‘Increased revenue’.

Other (role-specific) examples include ‘drove x% more traffic to the website during my time in employment’, ‘an increase in students grades by x’ and ‘achieved a first class distinction grade in my dissertation on x’.

Example:
In my current role as Senior Marketing Executive at Software Company X Ltd, I have been responsible for increasing incoming client enquiries for our B2B product lines by 156% in under 12 months, which helped the business increase its revenue by 55% year-on-year.

Cover letter help

Fourth paragraph – Reiterate

Here’s where you reiterate your interest in the role and why you would be the right fit for the company.

Example: 
I am confident that I can bring this level of success with me to your company and help IT Company LTD build upon their reputation as one the UK’s fastest-growing software houses. With my previous experience and expertise, I believe I can hit the ground running and start actively contributing to the business as soon as possible.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my application further.

Closing the letter

Thank the employer for their time. It is also a good opportunity to indicate that you’d like to meet with the employer for an interview.

Sign off your cover letter with ‘Yours sincerely’ (if you know the name of the hiring manager)/’Yours faithfully’ (if you do not), and your name.

Example:
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my application further.

Yours sincerely,

[Your name]

Final thoughts

Remember: this is a template, not a ready-made cover letter.

This means that it’ll only be effective if you actually put the work in. So before you get started – take some time to research the company and role, and think about how your skills and experience make you a good fit.

Then, do this for every single job you apply for. Because although you won’t have to completely rewrite your cover letter each time, making small changes that make it tailored to the job are essential.

Finally, your cover letter will always look different depending on your situation – whether you’ve just graduated, you’re coming back from a career break, you’re looking for part-time work, or anything else.

Take a look at our cover letter help & tips for specific pointers on how to write yours.

 

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