Earlier in the year we gave you a bit of an overview on how to make your covering letter stand out from the crowd. You can remind yourself here.
Now we want to delve a little deeper into what you can be doing with your letter to make sure it ends up on the ‘yes’ pile.
Accuracy – There is nothing worse than reading a covering letter full of mistakes. Check your dates; check your facts and above all, make sure your letter relates to the correct job. In any role, attention to detail is of the utmost importance and we need to see you demonstrate this from the outset.
Structure – This is a tricky one and is open to debate. Use paragraphs wisely and plan what you’re going to write. Key things to include are: why you want the job; why that division and list (if relevant); why Penguin Random House and a demonstration of your wider commercial awareness. We can see your experience on your CV, so don’t dwell too much on telling us how organised you are – we’ll be able to see this from the jobs you’ve had and the things you’ve achieved. Try and stick to a page in length if you can – we’re after quality over quantity.
Presentation – This contributes more than you would think. Choose a clear, smart, sans-serif font and lay your letter out correctly – it’s nice to see a formally addressed letter. Try and avoid pictures of yourself – although we are of course a creative business, so feel free to exercise a bit of creative licence with the presentation of your application.
Tone and language – We love it when people get creative with their letters, but remember this is your chance to PR yourself so make sure you get the tone right and avoid being too colloquial or talking about yourself in the third person! It can be helpful to get someone else to read your letter for you and to get feedback on how your letter comes across to them.
Address the task – occasionally we might ask you to complete short piece of work, or to answer a question as part of your application. You can put this in the body of your covering letter, or attach it as a separate document – it’s up to you, just make sure you don’t miss it out!
Covering letters are personal and everyone will take a different approach, but however you go about it, we hope this information will help you with your technique. As ever, any questions just shout.
Stay tuned later in the month for a very special cover letter-related competition!
Following on from last month’s blog post on CV writing tips, we’re now going to give a bit of limelight to the covering letter.
Your covering letter is just as important as your CV when you are submitting a job application. Particularly for entry level roles, CVs can look quite similar in terms of academic achievements and level of experience, so the letter is a really great opportunity to make your application shine.
There is no specific formula to writing a great covering letter, but here are some things you may want to consider when you are putting together your application:
Do your research – Whether you are applying for a marketing role at Transworld or an editorial position at Michael Joseph, the person reading your letter will want to see that you know the list. Look at our online catalogues, trawl online retailers or spend some time in a bookshop. Show us that you know who our authors are and what our successes have been.
Be passionate – We are a company that is very passionate about what it does, and we want to hire people who will be able to inject a similar enthusiasm into what they’re doing. Tell us what and who you love to read and what makes you excited about the prospect of a career in publishing!
Be interested in the role – if you are applying for a marketing role (for example), tell us why you want to do that job. You could even take it a step further and talk about a campaign you’ve noticed and what worked well about it as well as briefly alluding to anything you’ve done in this area.
Be commercial – Ultimately, publishing is a business, and what we do has to make money. Showing us that you have taken an interest in the key trends in the industry, knowing who our key retailers are, as well as thinking about the challenges and opportunities the industry is facing (particularly around digital) will go a long way.
Don’t just repeat your CV – You may want to include a short paragraph summarising why you are particularly well-suited to a role, but the person reading your letter will already have read your CV so will already have a good sense of your skills and experience. Use your covering letter to say something interesting and thought-provoking.
Be succinct – A page of text will be plenty – we will sometimes have hundreds of letters to read through, so don’t waffle and make it about quality over quantity!
Proofread it – don’t let a typo let you down: it could mean the difference between the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ pile.