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Improve your job application

Writing an effective cover letter is often your first chance to connect with the employer, and is one of the most critical elements of your application.  It should capture the employer with a summary of your skills, qualities and experience and make them want to read your CV.

This is an example of a cover letter for a fictional job:

You should use your own details for a cover letter.Top Tips for writing an effective cover letter

1 The name game

Always write to a specific individual – avoiding addressing covering letters to Dear ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’. Use ‘Mr’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Miss’ or ‘Ms’ and then your contacts surname. Never use their first name.

2 Careful consideration

Tailor your letters to each application – don’t mass produce them. You will undoubtedly get more interviews by sending out a small number of well-written cover letters, than by sending out many poorly written ones.

3 Size matters

Keep things concise - three or four brief paragraphs is fine. A covering letter should be a maximum of one A4 pageWhen applying for a job, you are often competing against a lot of other people, so it is important that your application makes an impression and stands out from the others. A properly presented and structured cover letter will help you.Writing a cover letter

You can use the job advert itself to guide you. Underline the skills in the advert and start writing your letter and include the skills you underlined. Be positive and emphasise why you are perfect for the job. Always include any relevant experience.Suggested content

Give a summary of your skills and experience. Keep it brief and to the point. Remember to include your name, address, phone number, the date, and enclose or attach a copy of your CV.What to say

Be clear. Don’t use a long word if a short one will do. If you have been looking for a job for a while, say how you spend your spare time (for example, by doing voluntary work, work experience, or study). Be honest and keep to the facts.How to say it

Include the job offer reference number if there is one in the job detail. Enter it below the opening line. For example:

Dear Mr/Mrs

Re: Job reference 345

Always try to find out the name of the person you need to write it to. It looks a lot more professional and shows you have made the effort to find out their name.

If you do start a letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, end with ‘yours faithfully’. If you start with the person’s name (for example, ‘Dear Mrs Smith’) end with ‘yours sincerely’. Finally double-check your spelling and grammar before sending the letter, by using your spell check or by asking a friend or relative to read it.How the letter looks

It is always better to type a letter but if this is not possible then make sure it is neat. Leave plenty of space around the edge and clear a space between each paragraph. Use good quality plain paper and envelopes.

Sign the letter and print your name underneath to make sure it can be read easily. Ask a friend or relative to check over your letter before you send it.

Make sure your application arrives on time. If your application is too late, the company might not even consider it and your time will have been wasted.What to avoid

1 Spelling errors

2 Too much detail

3 The incorrect contact name

4 Poor quality letter paper

About Paragon Skills

  • Established in 1998, Paragon Skills is the sixth largest training provider in England, with over 4,000 learners currently engaged in learning programmes.
  • They are a national provider of work-based training and have positioned themselves as the SME local private training provider of choice.
  • Offering intermediate and advanced apprenticeships and the additional ability to offer bespoke training, which is relevant to individual companies.
  • All training programmes are delivered by qualified and experienced industry professionals, with programmes that are role-relevant and industry endorsed.

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