You might be asked for a covering letter to go with a form or CV. Writing the right letter or email may help you to get an interview.
Here's some advice to help you with writing a covering letter:
- Type your letter and print it on plain white paper and make sure it is no longer than one side of A4.
- If you do handwrite your letter, make sure it is neat and your writing is legible.
- If applying for a specific job advertisement, quote where you saw the job advertised, the name of the job and any reference numbers.
- Make sure you tailor your covering letter to the job you are applying for and outline how your experience matches the job requirements.
- Explain why you want to work for the organisation and list the skills you have that may be relevant to the company and job.
- Include your availability for interview, whether you are seeking full or part-time work and your availability to start the job if successful.
- Keep your covering letter concise. It should give a flavour of what is in your application or on your CV.
- Check you have addressed your letter to the right person, used their correct job title and spelt their name correctly
- Letters to ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’ end ‘Yours faithfully’. Letters to a named person end ‘Yours sincerely’.
- If you are sending an email instead of a letter, structure the email in exactly the same way as you would if you were writing a letter.
- Make sure you have an ‘appropriate’ email address.
- Always check your spelling and grammar and always get someone else to check it through before sending it.
Preparing a CV
What is a CV?
It's nothing more than one or two nicely set out pages of A4 size paper, which you use to tell an employer about yourself and your skills.
It needs to be easy to read, so keep it simple. For more help download our leaflet preparing a CV.
The Golden Rules of CV writing
- Get together the details of your education, work history and anything else you need
- Use a computer to produce a CV, don't handwrite it
- Use a simple font like Arial or Times New Roman, between 10 and 12 pt
- Keep it short - two sides of A4 maximum, one side if possible
- Don't use exactly the same CV every time. Be prepared to make little changes depending on the job you're applying for
- Always check it before you send it
What to put in a CV
- Full name, address, postcode and phone number
- Date of birth
- You can include a couple of sentences about yourself (look at Selling Yourself for tips)
- Education: most recent school/college first
- Current course (the subjects and exams you are taking)
- Work history: most recent first, not forgetting part-time jobs, voluntary work or work experience
- Any qualifications you have achieved from school and/or work
- Include any other skills or interests you have, particularly if they are useful for that job
- Names and addresses of two people who will give you a reference. Remember to ask them first!
Preparing for an Interview
- Check where you are going and how long it takes to get there
- Find out about the job and the company. Look at the job advert/details again
- Look through your application form and CV
- Look at any certificates you have or other documents that show your achievements and decide what you want to take to the interview. Take things that show your strengths
- Think about what questions you might be asked and prepare some answers
- Think about why you want the job and why you are the best person for it
- Think about what you want to wear. Make sure it is clean
- Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back
Download our leaflet Going for an Interview.
At the Interview
Questions you might be asked:
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why should we employ you?
- What do you know about the company?
- Why do you think you would be good at the job?
- Tell us about yourself.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Tell us about something you've done that you are proud of.
- Arrive early. Go to reception and introduce yourself
- You will be nervous. Don't worry, that's normal
- Make sure your mobile phone is off
- Don't chew gum or sweets and don't smoke
- Smile when you go in. Say 'Good morning (or afternoon)'. Always be polite
- Offer to shake hands and wait to be asked to sit down
- Sit straight but relaxed. Give the interviewer normal eye contact
- Listen to the questions. Ask if you aren't sure what they mean
- Give full answers, not just 'Yes' or 'No'
- Don't lose the plot if you make a mistake. Forget it and move on
- Above all, sound positive. Don't whinge about your school or previous employer. No-one likes a moaner!
- Have a question to ask at the end. You could ask one of these:
- 'What training can I expect?'
- 'How many people will I be working with?'
- 'How long will it be before I know the result of the interview?'
- At the end, thank the interviewer and shake hands