Now you have optimised your CV, it’s time to turn your attention to stage two in the job hunting process.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”; a heavily quoted phrase, but equally vital advice! Many candidates believe cover letters aren’t essential, but they are often a way for recruiters to initially assess your suitability for a role before looking at your CV.

Stage two: creating an effective covering letter

Here are five top tips for a successful covering letter:

1.    Always write one
Whether the employer has asked for one or not, it’s your chance to explain why you want to work for their company and why they should choose you. It also shows you have put some time and effort into the application process. A typical mistake for applicants is leaving the covering letter as “Please see CV”. No matter how brilliant the CV, this can give an impression of laziness and would most likely end up with your application being overlooked.

2.    Be concise
Try and stick to one page. Repeating your CV is not helpful to an employer. Your covering letter is a chance to provide evidence of skills you have developed that make you ideal for the role. This could be perhaps three to five points showcasing specific skills and achievements. You cannot assume your CV will be read in full at first, but if your covering letter is well written and relevant it will encourage this!

3.    Be specific
If you are applying for several jobs at once there is a temptation to write a generic covering letter that you use for each application. Making your application specific to each job is essential. One of the first things the employer will need to know is that you have the specific skills they are looking for.

4.    Be enthusiastic about the company
Write a paragraph on what excites you about working for that company and why you think you would be a good fit; this will show you have done your research and you are genuinely interested in their business.

5.    Double and triple check grammar and spelling
Just like your CV, make sure you don’t throw away your chances of the job because of a silly spelling mistake. Getting someone else to check both your CV and covering letter is the best way to check it reads well to another person.