What makes a covering letter stand out?

Posted 03.02.14 by prhcareers

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.