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Returning to STEM
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3 Covering letters and speculative letters

Figure 3 Wax seal

A covering letter is an opportunity to personalise and tailor an application, and show precisely how you fit the requirements of the job. It’s your chance to introduce yourself and highlight what you want the recruiter or employer to know about you. As with your CV, you want to make an excellent initial impact with your covering letter. It should, therefore, show how you meet the specific criteria detailed on the person specification or job description.

You won’t know if they’ll look at your CV or covering letter first, so cover your most relevant skills and qualifications in the first couple of sentences of the letter. Give a personal summary, tailored towards the particular job involved. Next, expand on the most relevant experience and training from your CV, then cover any other areas of your CV where you think you have developed skills relevant to the job. Make sure you match your skills to the person specification, and use the same key words where possible. Finally, conclude by encouraging them to contact you if they want any further information.

Activity 4 Drafting a covering letter

Timing: Allow approximately 40 minutes

Write a covering letter to accompany your CV for the job you have chosen. Start by working through the job description and identifying the key words and requirements. Make notes on how your skills and experience fit with these key requirements and then structure your letter according to the advice above.

If the employer is asking you to complete an application form, you should put the information you would include in a covering letter in an additional or supplementary information page.