Writing THAT Covering Letter

covering letter First impressions. So incredibly important.

We all know that. It’s uppermost in the minds of most of us when we are preparing for interview.

But – what if we’ve already missed that FIRST ‘first impression’ opportunity?

Don’t forget, in many cases, the all-important-but-much-maligned ‘Covering Letter’ is actually our FIRST chance to make that first impression.

If you talk to experienced interviewers, seasoned managers and recruiters; they have, in some cases, laughably crazy stories to tell of the weird and wonderful cover letters they have seen over the years. Everything from brief one-liners, or indeed a total absence, to those clearly cut-and-pasted – referring to a completely different job!

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 00.40.59Back in the days of paper and pen there are even more horror stories, of scribbles on torn notepaper and verbose passages written on scented, personalised notelets.

covering letterYou may think that this simply wouldn’t happen now: it’s 2017 – and with all of the supportive info/how-to blogs across the web, there’s no excuse for people to get it so wrong. You’re right of course – there is no excuse. So don’t be one of those who do.

You may not get it wrong as those described earlier did… but there are other ways of going ‘wrong’ too.


Job Interview

Your covering letter is your first communication with a prospective employer. It really is your ‘first impression’. So make it count.

  • Begin by introducing yourself; don’t be afraid to show your personality, your skills and your enthusiasm!

Studies have shown that managers hire people that fit the company culture best.

  • Next, provide two or three solid examples of your skills and experience; be sure not to undersell yourself, but also not to oversell. Be honest!

Phrases like “I’ve never worked in advertising, but …’” show them what you haven’t done. Better to say what you have done and how it applies to this job.

  • HR managers read hundreds of applications every day, they should all mention the business/company being applied to. General phrases that are not company-specific impress no one!

Include specific facts about the company and tie them in with your skills and ambitions.

  • To make your cover letter effective, be as accurate as possible. Vague claims like “I have excellent interpersonal skills” may make the HR manager fall asleep!

Use action verbs, make yourself sound dynamic – “I implemented” “I prioritised” “I streamlined”

  • Ensure the letter is not longer than one page –  make every word count.

Always check your letter for mistakes and ideally get another person to proof-read it for you. Ensure the layout is clean and that the letter reflects you and your ambitions accurately.

Remember – a good covering letter should stand out. It should be informative, yet ideally somewhat intriguing. This is what will lead an interviewer to think ‘I want to see this person’.

Job application

Make your next covering letter your best yet!