Thread: CV Help
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Old 13-07-09, 01:38 AM
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Tips for writing a covering letter


This advice applies to the situation in almost any industry. However, there are a few specialist situations in which the case might be different (the performing arts spring immediately to mind), in which case you should take specialist advice from within that industry.

Never send a CV without a covering letter.

Tell the reader that you are writing to apply for a job, not that you are interested in applying. And be specific – do you want a summer internship, a permanent position, a vacation job, a contract position, or are you enquiring about future employment possibilities?

State that you are enclosing (or attaching, if it is an email) your CV.

Make a point of mentioning how you learned of the opportunity – mention the advertisement (including the name of the website or publication), agency or whatever, including any reference number.

It might also be appropriate to mention the name of anyone who suggested that you write a speculative letter.

The main task of the covering letter is to entice the reader into looking at your CV before they throw it in the bin. It is the first document that will be read, in all likelihood, and it must, therefore be very well written and tailored specifically for that employer and opportunity.

It should be obvious that it must be flawless in terms of spelling and grammar, and should be written in an easy-to-read mature style. Avoid buzzwords and convoluted or clever-sounding words and phrasing.

Always highlight what it is about you and your background - education, skills, experience - that is relevant to the position you are seeking. Again, be specific and use examples to demonstrate what you are claiming. You might expand on something in your CV here.

Always make sure that you provide (and/or refer to) any information that has been specifically requested and is not appropriate to include in the CV. This might include your availability for interview (which should always be mentioned in any event), or an enclosed sample of your work. In general it is not appropriate to include anything that has not been requested, and do not expect to receive back anything that you do send.

Always state that you can be contacted (and how) in the event there are any queries with the information you have provided.

The whole letter should be brief – never more than a single side of A4 paper – and 300 words is a good guideline to aim for.

Always try and write to a specific individual, and style the letter appropriately and conventionally.

Do not include (unless specifically requested):

* Your age or date of birth
* Your current salary
* Your salary expectations
* Any mention of references
* A photograph
* Any amusing anecdotes


If you are asking here for advice about a covering letter, please tell us what you have been asked to include. Better still, post the link to the job advertisement so that we can see the full context.
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