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Covering letters

01.09

If your covering letter isn’t as good as it can be, your application form or CV may not be read. Employers and recruiters explain the key points of a good covering letter along with common mistakes to avoid.

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  • AW = Alison White, Programme Director, East London Business Alliance
  • AP = Anand Patel, Resourcing Support Manager, Tube Lines
  • HD = Howard Dawber, Strategic Advisor, Canary Wharf Group

AW: Well I think a really great covering letter needs to be addressed to the person its supposed to be addressed to. Its got to be neat, well laid out and no more than one page long. Its got to summarise as well, I think, some of the highlights you’ve got, some of the skills you’ve got for a job and it goes without saying, of course, that it should be perfect in grammar, punctuation and spelling.

AP: For me, the most common mistake is using a single covering letter for everything that you apply for. At Tubelines, the number of times we’ve had letters coming in saying we’re a global multinational which it’s just not true and it’s rather amusing because it just shows that they have no idea what they’re applying for.

AW: The most common mistakes people make when sending in their covering letter is that its poorly spelt, poor punctuation and poor English grammar. It can also be too long and its not relevant to the job they’re applying for.

HD: When you’re putting your CV together, when you’re putting your covering letter together, really think about the job, try and find out a bit more about the company. Don’t just bang in the same standard CV to every body, the same covering letter. You got to think about what it is that they’re looking for and then try and match that in the CV so that the person says, “yeah, this person will fit right in”...

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