How to write a great covering letter
A covering letter is a great way to showcase your skills and to address your employer directly on not only why you are suitable for the position, but are a perfect candidate. A covering letter is a great opportunity to elaborate on relevant experience and interests which cannot be expressed effectively through your CV.
Here are a few steps and tips on how to structure your covering letter:
Step 1: Read your job description
Firstly, it is important to make sure you have read the job description a few times and have noted down the list of skills and experience the recruiter not only requires but desires. You want to begin with a strong and concise opening that is tailored for the role, which addresses the recruiter and details the position you are applying for.
Example: Dear *employer name or sir/madam* I am applying for the Trainee Journalist position at your branch in Liverpool.
Step 2: Keep your paragraphs concise
Secondly, the next couple of paragraphs should be concise and brief, detailing a bit about yourself, combination of your skills, knowledge, and work experience. It is important to give compelling examples explaining how they are applicable and relate to the role. Don’t worry if you do not have relevant experience, think about the transferable skills acquired from part-time positions, societies, voluntary groups, or work that can be adapted to this position.
Step 3: Be engaging
Try to keep the recruiters attention – and explain any gaps, things that may seem odd to them (a few changes of interests or career paths?). If you have interviewed someone important or newsworthy or have published an interesting story for your student newspaper, share this with the employer – this will help you stand out from other applicants. You may even want to add links so that the employer could read your work if they chose to. Like brilliant journalism, you need to tell a story that will be interesting and grab the reader’s attention, in this case the employer.
Step 4: Avoid clichés
It is important to be mindful of overused phrases in your covering letter – particularly clichés. Examples of these are ‘I am a great team player’, ‘a hard worker’, and have ‘good communication skills’ or ‘I think outside the box’. The difference between a good and a great covering letter is about showing the employer your skills rather than telling.
Example: I have led a team of young journalists at my university newspaper… which entailed… this included working under strict time constraints and pressure… I overcame a multitude of challenges.
Hopefully this guide will create a cover letter that will help you stand out, showcase your skill set, and to communicate why you are perfect for the position.
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