Format

Your cover letter should typed on quality white or cream paper to match your CV (unless a hand written letter has been specifically requested). It must be neat, fit on one page with short, clear paragraphs. Proof-read your letter before sending it out. All spelling and grammar must be correct.

Opening
• Begin with your address and contact details on the top right or centre of the page. The rest of the letter is aligned on the left of the page.
• Your cover letter should be written to a specific person; never address your cover letters to "Dear Sir or Madam." Take the time to get an appropriate contact name, correct spelling and accurate title. (Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms/Dr. Smith).
• If you cannot find out the name of the person you should write to use “Dear Sir or Madam”. (failure to address the letter to a named person could result in the letter not being read)
• Add the date in words.

Your letter should be broken down into about four clearly themed paragraphs and should take into account the following:

First Paragraph – Clearly communicate the reason why you are writing, name the position for which you are applying, and explain how you heard of the opportunity / where the post was advertised. In a speculative letter, specify what job area you are interested in.

Second Paragraph - State why you are interested in working for this particular company (demonstrate evidence of research into the company’s activities or performance) and specify your interest in this type of work (demonstrate an understanding of what it involves).

Third Paragraph - Examine the job responsibilities and qualifications and design your cover letter to match these. Describe why you are suitable for the position, showing that you have the skills that the employer is interested in. Describe your major strengths as they relate to the position you are seeking - demonstrate your expertise or proficiency. If you have had experience, point out what particular achievements you have accomplished. The idea is to create interest and show how your skills and qualifications can be of value to the reader—to make them want to know more.

If the advertisement is vague look at adverts for similar jobs to infer what skills and abilities might be required.

Fourth Paragraph – Express enthusiasm and ask for an interview, stating when you are available for interview.

Closing
• Final paragraph - Encourage a response. Thank the employer for their consideration. State that you are looking forward to hearing from them.
• Do not attempt a translation of “Madame, je vous prie d’accepter ….”.
Finish your letter with:
Yours sincerely (UK / USA - when you have written to a named person) or Sincerely (US)
Yours faithfully (UK / USA - when you have written to Dear Sir or Madam) or Yours truly (USA)
• Print your name. Especially if your signature is illegible.
• Finally, under your signature, write “Enc” (abbreviation for Enclosures) and don’t forget to enclose your CV, application form, and references if required. (Make sure your referees have agreed to supply references).
• Make sure you use paper which matches your CV when you write your cover letter and use a matching A4 envelope so that you do not fold your documents.

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