Generally your letter should be three paragraphs. The first paragraph should say why you are writing, the second should outline why you are ideal for the job and the last paragraph should state what you would like to happen next.
Paragraph One – Why I am writing
Here you should explain why you decided to apply for the job. You must do your homework to find out about the organisation and the role that they are hoping to fill. For example:
I am currently (your present role) within a (say something interesting about your present organisation) and was interested to read your advertisement for a (name the job) which was advertised in the XXX Gazette on XXX XXXX 2013. I would like to apply for this position and enclose my CV in support of my application.
This will orientate the reader to who you are and which of the possibly many jobs that they are in the process of trying to fill.
Paragraph Two – Why I am ideal for the job.
Since this is a letter for an existing role it is important that you present yourself as the ideal candidate for the job. You can do this by looking at the person specification (which is simply their requisition for a person) and work out how your pattern of experience meets what they are looking for.
A ball bearing company will probably be looking for people who can work quickly and accurately with a high attention to detail. They also want people who can get on easily with other people and be able to maintain focus over long periods of time.
A garden centre would be looking for people, who can work outside in all weathers, be able to move heavy loads, have an understanding and interest in plant care and have good customer service skills.
A heating firm would be looking for people who were qualified in gas engineering and safety, can work at a fast pace, have a high attention to detail and good interpersonal skills.
Once you have identified the list of qualities and skills that they might be looking for you (usually on something called the person specification but if they don’t provide this try to work out what their list of requirements might look like) then you have to present yourself as the person who is ideal for the job.
I suggest you put the list of required qualities on the left hand side of a sheet of paper and then put what you have to offer in relation to these qualities on the right side of the paper.The ball bearing factory may want
They want I have to offer
Quick and accurate
I have worked on a supermarket check out for the past two years and gained a reputation as a fast and efficient worker.
Achieved employee of the month on two occasions.
High attention to detail
When working in the supermarket I was able to identify errors in pricing which was costing the company money. Undertook basic accounts when working in catalogue company and had reputation for spotting errors on the computer print outs.
Gets on easily with people
Worked in a day nursery and built relationships with colleagues and parents.
Maintain focus over a long period
Used to entering data onto the computer over long periods of time when working in the catalogue company.
When you do this process you will remember aspects of your previous work experience that are relevant to the employment that you might be seeking.
Keep going until you have remembered everything that might be important. When you have done this you are now ready to construct a paragraph which highlights what you have to offer and why they may be interested to pick up the phone to you or send you an email.
First two paragraphs of a letter to the ball bearing company.
Dear Mr Watson
I was interested to read your advertisement for a ball bearing operative in the Totnes Gazette Thursday 29 August 13. Having worked in a similar environments for a number of years I would like to apply for this position and enclose my CV in support of my application.
I have recently worked in Aspar Supermarket where I gained a reputation for being a fast and efficient worker and managed to achieve employee of the month on two occasions. I consider that I have a high attention to detail and reported costly pricing errors a number of times. When working for Myspar catalogue company, I was involved in data entry and could concentrate for long periods of time whilst still maintaining the level of attention required to do the job well. In all of my roles, including working in a day nursery I have worked closely with colleagues and see myself as a friendly and approachable person with an excellent attendance record.
Paragraph Three – What I would like to happen next
To finish your letter make a positive statement about what you would like to happen next.In the example above a typical ending might be something like this.
As a progressive and highly productive company, I hope that my experience is of interest to you and look forward to hearing from you.
Since this is an advertised vacancy, you should send your application, which includes your CV and covering letter to the named person using the method specified by the organisation.
I hope that this article has given you some more ideas on how to present yourself to a potential employer and that this will lead to greater success in the job market.
Don’t forget to read my blog on ‘Creating a winning CV’ and writing speculative covering letters if you want to approach a potential employer who is not advertising vacancies directly.
If you want to improve your people skills which are really the basis of all success both at work and at home, look out for my books – the People Skills Revolution and the People Skills Revolution Handbook which are available from Amazon and the publishers Global Professional Publishing.
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