Purple Door. Covering Letter Guide

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1 Purple Door Covering Letter Guide 1

2 Covering letters Covering letters play a key role in job applications. This guide will show you how to put together a successful letter to boost your chances of getting the job you want. In particular, we will be looking at the issues of: What covering letters are and when they are used Examples of content and format Dos and Don ts for good letter writing Covering letters are used to support and introduce applications for jobs, work placements, and sometimes courses of study. They may also be used speculatively, to enquire whether an organisation may be able to offer work experience or job opportunities. Basically, the covering letter will accompany a CV, application form or some other type of documentation required by an employer or other recruiter. Covering letters generally follow a standard style and should be brief, no more than one side of A4 paper. They may be sent electronically or by post. As with any application, a covering letter must be very positive and make a strong case to the reader. It needs to introduce any other accompanying items such as a CV in a clear way. Remember, your covering letter will usually be among the first impressions that the recruiter will have of you so it must be good. Tip Visit our Download zone at for a copy of our Speculative Applications guide. What do covering letters look like? At the end of this guide you will find two example letters to help illustrate the issues being discussed. You can think of a covering letter as having three main sections: Section 1 The first section is typically a brief paragraph and is a chance to introduce yourself and confirm the role for which you are applying. It is also customary to say where you saw the position advertised (website or newspaper, for example). If you are responding to an advertisement, look for a reference number and remember to quote it so that the recruiter knows exactly what post (or course) is being applied for. Remember to put the date on your letter. 2

3 Section 2 The second section will constitute the main bulk of the letter. It should consist of no more than two or three brief paragraphs, explaining why you are interested in the role and providing some evidence to support your interest. For example, you may want to talk about experiences such as a work experience / summer internship or aspects of your course that inspired your interest, and what skills you have developed that will make you a suitable candidate; in effect why you feel you are a good candidate for the job. Tip Whilst it may be important to explain, in the letter, certain aspects of your application in more detail, please avoid simply repeating, in the letter, material that may already be in your CV or application form. Remember to be very positive in explaining what you could contribute to the role and the business of the employer. Your letter is a part of the overall sales pitch. If you are applying for a place on a course of study, the same principle applies: explain your interest and how you think you would be suitable. Section 3 The final section is a chance for you to show you have researched the company / industry / sector to explain to the reader why you want to work for their organisation. Remember to conclude the letter on a friendly note, thanking the reader for their attention and for considering your application. You can offer to supply additional information if required and indicate your availability for interview, but this is not compulsory. It is your choice. Tip Dear Sir or Madam is followed by Yours faithfully Dear Named Person (e.g. Mrs Green or Mr Brown) is followed by: Yours sincerely Examples The examples on the following pages provide a guide to what a typical covering letter can look like. They are only guides, however, and your own letters will need to be constructed to suit your own situation and the types of opportunities for which you are applying. 3

4 Example Covering letter for a graduate position Peter Jameson 25 Field Close Emsworth Hampshire PO1 5RT Mrs T Grainger Finance Manager South Central PLC 123 Upper Wood Road Chichester West Sussex PO15 8PD 20 July 2014 Dear Mrs Grainger Re: Graduate Trainee Finance stream (reference: abc/123/pb) I am very pleased to submit my application for the post of Graduate Trainee in the Finance Stream, as advertised on the company web pages. I have enclosed my curriculum vitae for consideration. My particular interest in the role is linked to the opportunities to specialise in financial reporting and internal auditing processes. I have been able to study these as specialist topic fields throughout my course and, in detail, as a part of my final year dissertation research. Moreover, I have recently completed a vacation internship, where I was able to gain a greater understanding of internal financial control mechanisms. I believe that these aspects of my background will enable me to contribute effectively to this role. I have completed a number of periods of volunteering with local charities during my spare time, throughout my degree. In these positions, I have been able to gain experience of working with young people, care leavers and adults with a variety of learning disabilities. I have greatly enjoyed these experiences, which have enabled me to gain a wide range of skills in taking responsibility, communicating at various levels and working collaboratively with others. I feel that my participation in these activities has provided me with a strong base of interpersonal skills that will enable me to perform successfully in this post. Your company works with a wide range of high profile clients and is a major competitor in the financial service industry. I feel that your emphasis on building strong relationships with clients, through providing a professional and high quality service, would be well served by the knowledge and experience I have outlined above. Thank you very much for considering my application. I would be very happy to supply additional information, if necessary, and look forward to your reply. I am available for subsequent stages of the selection process at any time. Yours sincerely Peter Jameson 4

5 Example Covering letter for work experience Mr B. Grainger, Collection Manager The Central Historical Collection Museum House Portsmouth PO8 0NB Kim Jackson 25 Way Lane Emsworth Hampshire PO4 5BT 27 June 2014 Dear Mr Grainger Work experience opportunities in historical research I am currently reading for a Bachelor s degree in History and have a strong interest in working professionally in Historical research after graduation. I am writing to enquire about the possibility of any work experience opportunities that may be available during the summer vacation period. Enclosed herewith is a copy of my curriculum vitae which provides details of my experience to date. I have a particular interest in working with records relating to Victorian social history, similar to those housed within the Central Historical Collection. During my course, I have followed specialist options in Victorian society and 19 th century parish records. These units have helped to inspire my interest and provide a depth of knowledge that I feel will enable me to contribute to the work of the Museum. In my spare time, I work as a Museum Volunteer and have recently participated as a Research Assistant, coordinating documents to be used in a forthcoming history exhibition by the local council. These activities have helped to build my confidence in dealing with historical artefacts, as well as my ability to work effectively with others in a coordinated way to meet demanding deadlines. I hope to be able to develop these skills further through additional work experience at the Central Historical Collection. Thank you very much for reading my request. I would be very happy to supply additional details that you may need and am available for an interview at any time. Yours sincerely Kim Jackson 5

6 Final Dos and Don ts to help when writing your covering letter Do: Explain who you are and why you are writing to the organisation Clarify why you are interested in the role and your interest in the business of the company Explain what you can offer the company in terms of your skills and experience. Be positive in making your case but avoid making excessive claims Use your spell checker to correct typing errors, spelling mistakes and poor grammar (and make sure it is in UK English). Ask someone to check it as well Keep it brief and to the point Don t: Make false claims regarding your ability e.g. exaggerate your role in a team or claim an amazing ability to do something Write excessively long paragraphs as a general rule, it should be possible to read any paragraph in 20 seconds. Employers don t spend long reading applications Indulge in flattering the reader about their organisation e.g. I want to work for the number one financial company in Europe. This also is too bland a statement Send the same covering letter (and CV) to 50+ employers. Employers will realise this is a generic letter. Remember to target! Further help Visit the resources on our website or come in to Purple Door if you need assistance with the completion of covering letters. You can find some useful information on making applications on our Download Zone at and on the Graduate Prospects website: Disability disclosure The decision whether to disclose a disability to an employer is often a personal one, and may be based on a number of factors such as the nature of the disability and the demands of the role being applied for. Disabilities can be disclosed in a covering letter but may also be disclosed at other stages in the application process and decisions about this are largely a matter of judgment. If disclosing disabilities, always do so in a very positive manner, explaining any assistance that may be needed. If necessary, speak with a Careers Adviser or contact the employer directly before sending in any applications to discuss any support that may be required during the selection process or in the role itself. It is important to answer any direct questions from the employer fully and honestly. Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication at the time of printing. However, this information could be subject to change. Updated August Accessibility: If the information in this document is required in a different format, please contact us for assistance. Purple Door, 28 Guildhall Walk, T: , W: 6

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