Ch. 14: Complementing your CV

Covering letters and application forms

In this chapter you will learn:

• The purpose of a covering letter or email and what it should contain

• How to use CVs with application forms and statements

Covering letters

It’s rare that a recruiter opens an envelope to find nothing but a CV inside. As a rule, a CV is always sent with a one-page covering letter or email that:

  • names the role you are applying for
  • highlights why you would be perfect for this role at this company
  • Encourages the recipient to read your CV and invite you for interview. It’s fair to say that this letter is, in many ways, even more important than your CV. A good letter guarantees that someone will at least skim through your CV. Dull, irrelevant or badly written letters beg to go straight in the bin – swiftly followed by your CV, however good it was.

Your covering letter needs to seduce the reader. It should take them by the hand, pat the seat and say: ‘Come and sit down. I’ve got an amazing CV for you to read. Look – this person has everything you could possibly want, all you need to do is see that for yourself.’ Once they start to read, they’ll be hooked.

Letters that do the literary equivalent of shrugging their shoulders and saying: ‘Here, have a quick peek at this CV. It’s quite good, you might even like some of it,’ are not doing as much as they should to help you. Worse still, if they mutter: ‘It’s a lot to ask but I’m hoping something in this CV might just catch your eye if you have the patience to give it a proper read’, then all your time spent learning to write an amazing CV has been wasted.

What type of covering letter should you use?

Many people feel that you should have a different type of covering letter for each type of application. Job adverts in the press vs. online job adverts, employer vs. recruitment agency adverts, responsive vs. speculative letters, for example.

However, with the possible exception of purely speculative applications, every covering letter or email basically needs to say the same things. It’s how you say them that matters.

What to include in a covering letter

You can include up to six points, ideally all fitting on one side of paper. Have a separate short paragraph for each.

1 Say clearly why you are sending your CV

Are you:

  • Answering an advert?
  • Writing speculatively, to ask if there are any opportunities for someone with your skills?
  • Sending a CV because a mutual contact suggested you do so?

2 Very briefly, say why you are an ideal person for this/a job

  • What skills and experience do you have that would be useful to them?
  • What would help you do this job better than others might be able to?
  • Direct them to your enclosed/attached CV to see proof of this, and more ...

The extract above has been taken from 'Get That Job With the Right CV'
Copyright © 2010 Julie Gray

Get That Job With the Right CV

From Julie Gray, Senior Consultant at The Resume Centre, Get that Job with the Right CV will help to teach you how to write the best possible CV to land that perfect job.

It covers everything from layout and format, through to perfecting a jargon-free writing style, avoiding common pitfalls and tailoring your CV to different jobs.  Julie’s in-depth professional advice and friendly style will guide you through every step of the CV writing process with humour and practicality and give you real confidence to effectively showcase your skills to employers.

As a professional CV writer at The Resume Centre, Julie sees every single day which CVs really achieve results.  This puts her in an excellent position to help you to create a truly exceptional CV of your own.