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Career Advice: Writing your cover letter

A cover letter is a vital part of your job application. Many employers make their first selection on this basis. It should be a clear, comprehensive and concise account, proving why you are the best person for the job. Use it well to complement your CV.

Spelling mistakes, messy writing, vagueness, or a lack of understanding of the job will bring an abrupt end to your application even before reaching the interview stage. Therefore, ALWAYS have someone else check your spelling. Do not rely on a computer - it will not necessarily pick up a wrongly chosen word spelt correctly, or a mis-spelt name.

Things to remember:

• Your cover letter should be laid out like a business letter, starting with the date, your contact details, then the company's contact details.
• Address your letter to the name or title on the advertisement. If there is not one, then start with Dear Sir/Madam. Never presume the gender of the person.
• State the position you are applying for, including where you saw the job advertised and the publication date.
• Explain who you are and what you feel you can offer the position. Be very clear about the job. Include details about any relevant qualifications for the job.
• If the advertisement outlines specific skills and qualities, make sure you mention that you have those qualities or describe past achievements that highlight how you have developed those qualities in previous positions.
• Refer to your attached CV.
• Conclude by stating you believe you are suitable for the job and would be interested in an interview to discuss the job further.
• Sign off with Yours faithfully if you started with Dear Sir/Madam and Yours sincerely if you started with the person's name.
• Sign your name and print it under the signature.

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