Q: COVER LETTERS: What goes into a cover letter?
A: A cover letter is essential and a lot of thought should go into it, no matter what stage of your career you are at.
NEVER send a CV without a cover letter!
- First reference the advertisement or person who suggested you apply for a job. Remember that the employer may have placed many advertisements or wonder why this has landed
Mention your exams, but don’t list every result
There’s no need to waste valuable space on your cover letter listing every grade you got at school – that belongs on your CV.
Instead, talk about your experience at school, how certain subjects apply to the job you’re after, and perhaps what you enjoyed most and would like to use in your career. Use your exams as an opportunity to describe your motivation and enthusiasm to achieve good results. You can reference your CV by saying that further details are available on it.
Are there other school-related qualities you can highlight?
It’s not just exam results which can impress a potential employer, have a think about other skills and achievements you can talk about in your cover letter.
For instance, did you have a particularly good attendance and/or punctuality record, were you given extra responsibilities, or did you win any awards? All of these examples show you’re a well-rounded individual with a wide range of skills ready for the working world.
Think about how your hobbies/extra-curricular activities are relevant
In the absence of job-based skills, draw on any hobbies or after school activities which may show off your potential. If you have an unusual hobby that shows a particular skill, be sure to mention your enthusiasm for it, and how you’d be keen to incorporate it into your career.
Being part of any after-school activities or social clubs also shows commitment, dedication and other useful skills.
You’ve just left school with little or no work experience, you’ve got the opportunity to do whatever you want. Highlighting your ambition shows your desire to learn and develop within the role, and hopefully will lead to promotion or other exciting opportunities down the line.
Be careful of going too over the top or you risk sounding precocious.
Highlight your immediate availability
Something you have over other candidates who are currently in employment is your ability to start immediately. It’s also likely that you’ll be much more flexible than older colleagues who have family and other responsibilities – show an enthusiasm to work unusual hours and weekends to show your dedication and commitment.
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