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Your Cover Letter should be clear, concise and easy to follow. You want to convey your interest and suitability in a way that is simple to understand, yet inspiring. Set the document out in a traditional letter style, with your address at the top, the correct salutation at the start (ideally addressed to somebody personally), ensuring you finish with the corresponding ending. Use this format when sending a posted letter. For emails retain the same level of formality, starting with ‘Dear ????’. The key difference is to include your address and contact details at the end, in your sign off.
Don’t be tempted to be less formal simply because your emails are normally informal. Remember it is likely your email will be printed out on receipt. It needs to look presentable as a standalone paper document.
Consider using a Cover Letter template to ensure you get the look and layout roughly right. All information should fit easily onto one side of A4. Use both decent paper and print quality to create a fresh professional impression. To keep the letter concise, consider a length of between 2 (larger) to 4 (smaller) paragraphs. Avoid big blocks of text. Instead make the letter simple to read with lots of white space.
Consider highlighting your strongest evidence in some way (bold, italic or underlined) or using bullet points to highlight key information – all the time matching your information to the position and ultimately spelling out how you can benefit the company.
Consider using a bold reference line right at the start so the reader can instantly see what the letter is about. After addressing the recruiting manager by name (ideally) structure the letter with a strong start, highlighting the purpose of the letter and interest in the job. The main body of the letter will feature your strengths matched to key points of the position advertised. You may want to conclude by offering to follow up or by explicitly leaving your contact details so it is easy for them get in touch with you.
Hard copy letters should be signed in pen. Many technical roles may benefit from a portfolio containing examples of your work or other evidence. If you possess one, state it is available on request. Again this is a good way to ensure you are memorable, as well as enticing the recruiter to find out more about you.
It is a good idea to follow up with a phone call, regardless. In the short term you’d probably be checking they received your application. If you decide to follow up a while later with a call, the focus will probably be about checking your details are still on file and being considered for any positions that may have materialised.
Your Cover Letter should compliment your CV, rather than repeat its contents. By all means refer to the detail in the CV, but use the more personal style of the letter to connect with the reader
Next... Individuality and Personal Style
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We constantly hear about the skills shortage in engineering and high-end manufacturing? Well according to the laws of supply and demand, a shortage of anything should increase its value. So why aren’t engineering salaries sky rocketing as a result? Or are they? What do you think?