Targeting your cover letters
Whatever job you are applying for irrespective of industry sector you should always customize your covering letter to its intended recipient. Standard letters show the employer from the outset that you are not really committed to the position or their company. Simply by taking the time to tailor your letter you display initiative and genuine interest.
Your cover letter varies depending on the type of job and the form of application, for example you may be responding to a job advert, writing a speculative letter to a company who have not advertised, or be applying for work experience. Whatever your purpose be sure to sell yourself and get across what it is that you can do for this company.
A job vacancy that has been advertised
Do research on the company and into the job to which you are applying. Dazzle the recipient with your insider knowledge. Make sure you fulfill all of the requirements on the advertisement and address each of these in the letter. Highlight your suitability for the job by drawing attention to your relevant qualifications. Address the letter to the named person in the advertisement.
A vacancy that hasn't been advertised
Applying for a job that hasn't been advertised can be a successful method of finding work. There is unlikely to be a glut of other applicants so your CV and cover letter will not be placed at the bottom of a large pile and will in theory receive more attention. The company should immediately recognise that you have shown initiative.
If you are making a speculative application you have to be sure what it is the company do, so carry out your research. In the opening paragraph display your knowledge of the company accompanied with a very positive statement about what you can contribute.
If possible reference somebody within the company, or a newspaper article.
In the closing paragraph make it clear as to your next course of action, for example "I will telephone you next week to discuss the possibility of an interview".
Work experience application
Work experience is an excellent method for finding out what career path you should take. Good companies encourage it and give the work experience person more to do than simply make the tea and photocopy documents, for example job shadowing.
There are two types of work experience, paid and unpaid. It is easier to get placement for unpaid work experience for obvious reasons. If possible an applicant should address their letter to a named person within the company.
Highlight in your letter how your school or college module choices are relevant to the sector to which you are applying for experience. If you are requesting unpaid experience say so in the letter, however if you want paid experience do not mention payment at this stage. State that you will be following up the letter with a telephone call within the week.
These pointers are only a guide, use the information in the 'How to make covering letters scream' section to produce a really polished product.
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Why not also look at our other applications section