Before putting pen to paper, you should:
- read the firm/organisation's literature or information
- find out as much as you can about them. You will then be in a better position to compose a letter about why you are suited to them
- consider the firm/organisation's requirements and decide what they are looking for
- consider whether you have the skills, abilities and qualities required, and, if so, how these can be best conveyed
- check your CV covers all the necessary points. If it does, highlight the points for employers to note. If not, you should revise it.
The letter must:
- encourage the employer to take your CV seriously
- set the reader's expectations of what will be in the CV
- persuade the employer that you are a suitable candidate for the job
- indicate evidence for the claims you make about yourself.
The letter should include:
- the purpose of the letter
- the reasons why you are applying to that firm/organisation
- highlight the best three things you can offer the firm/organisation
- apositive signing off
First impressions are important, so you should:
- make your letter an attractive document, well laid out on an A4 sheet
- ensure that there are no spelling mistakes or other errors
- address your letter to an individual, where possible, and consider telephoning to find out the correct name and title
capture the reader's attention
- express what you need to say as concisely as you can
- convey a positive attitude and reasonable confidence
Like every good story, your letter should have a beginning, middle and an end.
Beginning - an introduction. Provide a brief introduction of:
- who you are, which job you are applying for, where you saw the advertisement, why you decided to apply
- state that your CV is enclosed.
Middle - cover in more depth why you are applying, why you are interested in the job and in this firm/organisation. You should show that you understand the requirements of the role and that you know about the firm/organisation. Then explain why you are right for the role and highlight your achievements and experiences that are particularly relevant to it.
Once you have identified what the employer is likely to be looking for, you should:
- refer them to your CV to indicate that you would meet their requirements
- demonstrate your strengths and why you are a suitable candidate
- indicate what sort of contribution you could make and be clear about what you have to offer
- tailor the letter to the specific job and firm/organisation to fit their interests or needs and show you have done your research
End - you should end the letter on a positive note, saying when you will be available for interview and that you look forward to hearing from them.
Don't forget to sign your letter!