How to write a knock-out covering letter – OurWarwick

How to write a knock-out covering letter

Rebecca Preedy | Ancient History and Classical Archaeology with Study in Europe Contact Rebecca

Since exam season, I feel like I have been writing a covering letter every five minutes. It’s hard enough to get a job under normal circumstances, but since the pandemic began it feels like the job pool has virtually dried up. Even when you do find something suitable, it can be really difficult to set yourself apart from the other applicants, especially when there could be literally hundreds of them. But never fear! After so much practise writing application after application, I have learned some tricks of the trade which you may find give you the edge you need to start securing those interviews!

  1. Read the job description

One of the easiest mistakes to make when applying for a job is getting ahead of yourself and rushing right into your covering letter before you’ve read all the details. Make sure to read over the description a few times to find out exactly what they are looking for. Make a note at the top of your word document of the lists of skills and requirements they are asking for so that you don’t miss any out. It’s also worth double checking that the job application page doesn’t have any extra documents attached, as these can sometimes give more clues as to what you should be including in your application.

2. Examples, examples, examples!

Now that you’ve got your list of skills required, it’s time to structure them into paragraphs. I usually take one paragraph per skill, or combine similar skills into one paragraph. For example, teamwork and communication work really well as a pair. However, the most important thing is to make sure you can back up each skill you are claiming to have with a relevant example. Plus, it always pays to be honest; if you don’t have the necessary till experience or you’ve never done an admin role before, it doesn’t hurt to admit it. What can strengthen this, however, is emphasising that you are a quick and eager learner, and you are willing to learn what is necessary if you are chosen for the role.

3. Keep it snappy

Your cover letter shouldn’t be more than one page long, or your reader will get bored. Chances are they will only be skim reading anyway, so it’s important to make sure that you get straight to the point without overkilling the wordcount

4. Make it unique

Adding a personal touch to your covering letter will really help set you apart from other applicants. For example, I recently interviewed for a library job, and in my covering letter I said that I was once caught reading a book under my desk in a maths class in primary school. Well-placed adages like this can help give your statement some personality which will be a welcome change from the usual letters being read by potential employers.

5. Check it before you wreck it

Finally, and most importantly, it is vital that you make sure to proof-read your covering letter for spelling and grammar mistakes. If it helps, get a friend or family member to check it for you to make sure it reads well and there are no obvious issues. A small mistake is easy to make but looks unprofessional and may cost you a job.

Good luck, and happy job-hunting! For more tips, check out my blog on how to land a relevant summer job.


Rebecca Preedy | Ancient History and Classical Archaeology with Study in Europe Contact Rebecca

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