This may feel like a very strange and uncertain time to be looking for work but something you can do while in lockdown is to improve your chances of the job you want. Please do take the time to review and update your CV.

The first thing that many potential employers see is the covering letter that accompanies your CV or application. This simple five-point plan will help you to write a cover letter that they will want to read and help you to reach interview stage.  Your letter should be brief and to the point; around 300 words in total – though you may find that the recruiter has a recommended word limit which you should stick to.

Now is a good time to prepare a basic template which you tailor to a job description, adding in the points that the recruiter is looking for. Your basic template should include the things you are most proud of; your team working abilities, for example, or specific skills and experience.

Be professional

To compete for work you have to prove all through the application process that you are the best possible person for the vacancy.  Choose a smart header and include at least:

  • your name
  • the date
  • phone number
  • e-mail

You can add online contacts such as LinkedIn or Twitter as long as these are up to date and professional.

Make sure your personal information is consistent everywhere, especially online.

Be concise

Include no more than two paragraphs outlining your work experience. Ideally, you will be able to show some development, for example, “In my most recent role I developed my skills in… and achieved…” If you have completed a project or worked on something with a tangible result, include that.

Once you have the job description, you can add in some of the specific experience or achievements the employer is looking for.

Be real

Ensure that you are entirely honest in what you add to your CV and cover letter – remember that a lot of employers do thorough background checks.

It’s ok to show pride in what you have achieved but take it easy on the hyperbole – “I was very proud to deliver…” is better than “I did an amazing job with…”

It’s also nice to include a short paragraph about yourself, add in a sporting hobby or that you are learning a new language in your spare time, for example, as this can help to build a personal connection before you even get through the door for interview.

Be correct

Spell-check, look at formatting and read your letter through thoroughly. Better still; get someone else to have a look for you as some words can slip through filters. Sloppy mistakes can make the difference between landing an interview or not.

Make sure the information in your cover letter aligns with your CV.

Be polite

Add a formal sign-off to your cover letter, but one that still sounds like you. Something along the lines of “I would welcome the opportunity to talk through this role further” or “I look forward to meeting you” is ideal.

Next, remember that if you know the name of the person you are addressing, the sign off is “yours sincerely…” but if you don’t you should sign-off “yours faithfully…”

Then add your full name. There is no need to add a drawn signature.

Good luck and feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions or suggestions!