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Excerpt from Kick Start Your Career ... Again!


Covering Letters:
A covering letter is an opening document which summarises your resume and introduces you to the prospective employer. Never longer than one page, it is important that the covering letter is relevant to the role you are applying for. It needs to capture the attention of the employer and entice them to want to look further into your application.
These days, very few jobs request applications by post. With the advent of the Internet, most applications are online or via email. However, some smaller companies request facsimile. Whether you are sending your application by post, email or fax, if you have the opportunity to include a covering letter, make sure that it has had as much time spent on its preparation as your resume.
Again, it can be a good idea to create a Master Covering Letter and customise it for specific roles. Remember to match the main points in your letter to any keywords in the advertisement or job description. Remember that you are effectively marketing yourself to the employer, so think about how you would sell a new product!
A good covering letter has a similar format to an essay. You should begin with a brief introduction and refer to the position you are applying for. Then the body of the letter will cover your specific skills, qualifications and relevant background for the role. Look at your resume and summarise your skills and background for the role. This will make the reader want to look further into your resume to gain more information. Your conclusion will restate the main points and leave the reader feeling positive about your application. Keep your letter short, to the point and provide contact details. 
Watch your English and grammar. Use formal language and strong ‘doing’ words to describe yourself and your skills—words that tell the reader that you have been successful in the past and can quickly add value to the company, as an employee.
If you are from a non-English speaking background, ask a long-time local resident to read both your Master Resume and covering letter to ensure that they have been set out in the usual manner for this country. Sometimes documents from migrants can be overly formal or have grammatical errors that have not been picked up. Ask your course teacher or an English-speaking professional to review your documents before you send them out. It is extremely important that your first impression presents you in a really positive light and does not highlight any language differences.
Many candidates ask us if they should include the covering letter as an attachment with their email when applying for a role. We advise you to have your covering letter inserted in the body of the email, so that the only attachment is the resume. That way it is quicker and easier for the employer to read your covering letter and then only have to open one attachment for your resume.
If you are applying online through a job board, there may not be the facility to include a covering letter in the application process.

Whatever you decide to do with your application, ensure that the covering letter is of the same standard as your resume. If there is limited consistency between the two documents, a prospective employer will begin to doubt that you have personally written both, and unfortunately, they will usually assume that you wrote the worst of the two documents and had someone else write the other!

For further information about re starting your career, preparing your resume, attending interviews, or managing your work/life balance, order your copy of  Kick Start Your Career ... Again!

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