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Cover letters are sent with your CV and are usually read after the first round of short-listing has been completed. In short, an employer will look through all of the CVs they receive and will narrow down the list of applicants to the candidates they wish to include in the next round. This is where the covering letters come in.
CVs broadly demonstrate your qualifications, skills and achievements and tell your potential employer about you. Covering letters on the other hand explain in more depth why you are right for the role on offer.
Here is a list of points to consider from JobZoo on how to write a successful covering letter.
Do not copy your CV or repeat information on it
The employer will already have read your CV and now wants to know something else about you. The covering letter is far more job-specific than the CV and you should use it to say why you are the right person for the role. If it is a specific job application from an advert this can be easier.
Covering letters are also a good chance to demonstrate your writing and reporting skills
Being able to convey your points succinctly and convincingly will demonstrate to your employer that you have these skills and can transfer them to the work place. Accurate spelling and grammar is an absolute must in any covering letter and the same meticulous care and attention must be paid to the covering letter as it is to the CV – check, check and check again.
Take cues from the job advertisement
Before sending your application you should carefully study the role requirements and desired qualifications or experience outlined in the job advertisement. By doing this you can be sure to include all the necessary points and demonstrate your research skills.
The importance of meticulously tailoring each covering letter to each employer
Obviously this is easier with a smaller number of applications within a more specialist industry.
There is no real harm in sending a covering letter generically, especially if applying for roles which do not require very specific qualifications or experience, but if you can change each one all the better.
Note that you must change the address on the top of each covering letter. No employer wants an application covering letter with a rival’s name and address running along the top.
Most are hand typed and sent to a contact you have already established within the company.
Some require email and if you are to do this send your covering letter as an attachment in Portable Document Format (PDF) and not typed in the body of the email.
Formatting issues may make it look untidy.