1. Should I write my covering letter by hand?
Covering letters should be typed with black ink unless the employer has specified that they want it written by hand. In which case a good quality pen should be used and you should take care not to make mistakes and crossings out.
2. How long should my cover letter be?
Do not exceed one side of A4. Use formatting to balance the letter in the centre of the page.
3. Who do I address the letter to?
If you have the name of the employer then address the letter to them, if not try to find a name on the company webpage or by telephoning and asking who the head of department is. If you cannot find a name, then address your letter Dear Sir/Madam.
4. When do I need to send out a cover letter?
A cover letter should always be sent out to accompany your CV.
5. How should I close the letter?
A covering letter is a formal business letter and as such should be closed with 'yours sincerely'
6. What are the main points I need to include in my letter?
First Paragraph - State what position you are applying for and what makes you the best candidate for that job. If you are responding to an advertisement, refer to the publication in which it appeared. Second paragraph - Give details of what you can contribute to the company and how your qualifications make you particularly suitable. If applying to an advertised job relate your skills to those that are specified in the description. Third paragraph - Write your career aims linking them to the company's field of expertise and the job to which you are applying. Request an interview at the reader's convenience and state that you will be in touch. Incorporate this information into a maximum of four short paragraphs, include a contact address and your signature.
7. Can I send out the same letter for each application?
It is advisable to tailor a covering letter for the job to which you are applying. It is easier for an employer to dismiss a standard letter.
8. What do I do after I have sent the letter off?
Keep a record of when you posted the letter, and follow up with a telephone call after about a week. While you are waiting to hear back from the company continue to apply for other jobs, do not put all your eggs in one basket.
9. Should I use different fonts and what paper should I use?
This is a formal letter so do not use fancy fonts, stick with Times, Times New Roman or Arial. It should be black ink on white paper, do not use personal stationery. Print the letter on the same paper you used for your CV.
10. What type of language should I use?
Keep it simple, avoid clichés and commonly used catch phrases. Try not to use too many 'I can, I have, I am' starts to sentences. Your language should be hard hitting and easy to understand, use plenty of action verbs such as "designed", "implemented", avoid abbreviations and slang.
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