Cover letter faqs and answers

Cover letter FAQ and answers

1. Should I write my covering letter by hand?

Covering letters should be typed with black ink unless the employer has specified that they want it written by hand. In which case a good quality pen should be used and you should take care not to make mistakes and crossings out.

2. How long should my cover letter be?

Do not exceed one side of A4. Use formatting to balance the letter in the centre of the page.

3. Who do I address the letter to?

If you have the name of the employer then address the letter to them, if not try to find a name on the company webpage or by telephoning and asking who the head of department is. If you cannot find a name, then address your letter Dear Sir/Madam.

4. When do I need to send out a cover letter?

A cover letter should always be sent out to accompany your CV.

5. How should I close the letter?

A covering letter is a formal business letter and as such should be closed with 'Yours faithfully', assuming you do not know the name of the person reading your application. If you do, "Yours Sincerely" is appropriate.

6. What are the main points I need to include in my letter?

First Paragraph - State what position you are applying for and what makes you the best candidate for that job. If you are responding to an advertisement, refer to the publication in which it appeared. Second paragraph - Give details of what you can contribute to the company and how your qualifications make you particularly suitable. If applying to an advertised job relate your skills to those that are specified in the description. Third paragraph - Write your career aims linking them to the company's field of expertise and the job to which you are applying. Request an interview at the reader's convenience and state that you will be in touch. Incorporate this information into a maximum of four short paragraphs, include a contact address and your signature.

7. Can I send out the same letter for each application?

It is advisable to tailor a covering letter for the job to which you are applying. It is easier for an employer to dismiss a standard letter.

8. What do I do after I have sent the letter off?

Keep a record of when you posted the letter, and follow up with a telephone call after about a week. While you are waiting to hear back from the company continue to apply for other jobs, do not put all your eggs in one basket.

9. Should I use different fonts and what paper should I use?

This is a formal letter so do not use fancy fonts, stick with Times, Times New Roman or Arial. It should be black ink on white paper, do not use personal stationery. Print the letter on the same paper you used for your CV.

10. What type of language should I use?

Keep it simple, avoid clichés and commonly used catch phrases. Try not to use too many 'I can, I have, I am' starts to sentences. Your language should be hard hitting and easy to understand, use plenty of action verbs such as "designed", "implemented", avoid abbreviations and slang.

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Akiko Tanaka 52 Orchard Street London W2 3BT Mobile: 07960 999999 E-mail: [email protected]

Fortnum & Mason's 181 Piccadilly London W1A 1ER

3 August 2010

Dear Sir/Madam,


Re: Job as a part-time sales assistant (reference: JBW5014)

I would like to apply for the job of a part-time sales assistant in the food section of Fortnum & Mason's in Piccadilly, as advertised in Loot Recruit on 2 August. Please find attached a copy of my CV.

My previous jobs include two years as a sales assistant in an organic food shop in Japan. This has given me experience of dealing with customers, as well as cashier skills and a basic knowledge of food retailing. I have been living in London since last September, and am currently studying English at a language school. I have good English communication skills (recently I passed the Cambridge First Certificate in English exam). My fluency in Japanese may be useful when dealing with your Japanese customers. I am an enthusiastic worker, and enjoy working in a team. My student visa entitles me to work up to 20 hours per week (or longer during my school holidays), and I could start work immediately.

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the job vacancy with you on the telephone or at an interview. I can be contacted most easily on my mobile telephone or by e-mail (see details at the top of this letter).


Yours faithfully,

Akiko Tanaka

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