Zoom in on the covering letter

Posted 09.01.15 by prhcareers

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!