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Covering letters: be concise, committed and careful to check!

Written by: Joanna Jacobs
Published on: 12 Dec 2017

When it comes to writing a covering letter, the question you are answering is ‘why should the recruiter hire me’? It is an opportunity to break through the structural rigidity of a chronological and quantitative CV and influence and persuade the recruiter or business owner you are the right person for the job.

They want to see evidence that you:

  • Meet the requirements of the role and most importantly really want the job
  • Demonstrate passion and commitment towards the opportunity, company and industry
  • Are ambitious and understand how this role fits into your wider career goals and aspirations

To do this effectively, you’ll need to be close to the detail of the job description - the key words you identified for your CV will be helpful here too. You’ll also need to have done your research into the company and industry and have an opinion on its positioning in the marketplace.

Take this knowledge and use it as a lens through which to look at your CV again. Identify the compelling reasons why you should be hired, and bring these into your letter. These should be overarching points of evidence rather than a repetition of your CV. For example, if the job’s requirement to be ‘passionate about technology, fmcg brands, and marketing’ resonates with you, then articulate why you are passionate. What is it about technology, fmcg and marketing in particular that fires you up? How has this passion helped you to deliver exceptional results in the past? What benefit will it bring to the new role and organisation? What would it see from you if you were to be hired?

The covering letter shouldn’t be War and Peace. Keep it succinct and relevant - if you have three superbly articulated points of evidence, keep it at that rather than stretch to five and risk losing the recruiter’s attention.

Finally, review and check - and check again - layout, spelling and grammar. Don’t dash your hopes of securing an interview by spelling the recruiter’s name wrongly. Stick to the usual letter-writing etiquette even if sending as an email.

A covering letter can sometimes be viewed as an afterthought, even by people who have invested significant time in crafting a relevant CV. In fact, it can make or break the chances of your application progressing. Good luck!