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Cover letters - Get your CV read

A cover letter is often described as  product packaging; your opportunity to highlight your key skills, knowledge and ability and increase the likelihood that you'll be invited for an interview.

There are three attention grabbing golden rules to writing a cover letter:

1. Remind the recruiter what they're looking for;
2. Tell them you are what they're looking for - how you fit the job description;
3. Demonstrate why you are the best choice.

What you want out of a new job or career doesn't come into cover letters; the purpose of a cover letter is to quickly convince the reader that you are just the applicant they're looking for. Future bosses and hiring managers need to assess candidate suitability in a matter of seconds. They will check for a good fit with the skills, knowledge and qualification requirements that are detailed in the job description and if there's a match, they'll move onto your CV for more detail. All cover letters, whether emailed or posted, need to conform to the same rules.

Of course, it can be hard to put rules into practice sometimes, so we've shown an example to help you write that standout cover letter. You can find some free cover letter templates below which you can download in word document and PDF format for both email and post cover letters.

This example is a job advertisement for a Call Centre Manager role :

About you:
There's no rule book or script for you to follow - just your instincts. After all, your knowledge of call centre technology and industry developments is in-depth and up-to-the-minute - as is your practical call centre experience. Experience in a similar role will be required.
Ok, so following golden rules 2 and 3 that we told you about, the main requirements that the recruiter is looking for are the keywords highlighted in the version below - these are the things your cover letter needs to tell the recruiter you can do, know about or have previous skills/experience in:

About the role:
Credible from the word go, you'll ensure the
smooth running of call centre operations at either our Swansea or Cardiff sites (300-350 seats in each), championing exceptional customer service.
More than that, we'll look to you to devise, develop and deliver
new call centre strategies, constantly improving our call centre operations.

And here's the sample cover letter that matches this job description in email format:

Dear Sir or Madam,
I write in response to your job advertisement for a Call Centre Manager based in Swansea or Cardiff ref: Z1234.

I have 2 and 1/2 years' experience as a Team Leader in running a Call Centre team of 65 members for a leading UK household insurer. In my time with my current employer I have:

1. Decreased customer waiting times by 4% by introducing a new strategy where team members were incentivised to respond to calls faster and a colour coded display informed team members of customer waiting times;
2. Cross-trained the team which has increased job satisfaction (reducing absenteeism and sickness) and has eased holiday or off-site training cover;
3. After attending Annual Call Centre Technology Conference project championed implementation of abcsoftware load balancing software as presented at the conference. Early indications are that the software has increased productivity by 2%.

I can assure you that my experience, industry knowledge and track record to date make me a strong candidate for this role.

I look forward to hearing from you,
Chris Jones
Mobile: xxx
Email: xxx

Click here to download email sample cover letter and template

Click here to download post sample cover letter and template

The opening of your cover letter covers golden rule 1, you've reminded the recruiter about the role they're recruiting for and then told them why you're the best candidate for the job. If you're emailing your cover letter and CV, make sure you include the job reference in the subject line of the email.

By bullet pointing the requirements they've asked for, you're showing the recruiter that you have the skills and knowledge they asked for in the job description and giving it to them in an easy-to-read format that they can scan through quickly. So,  you're making the maximum impact in the first few seconds. This is important because the recruiter might receive tens of CV cover letters for the same job in a short space of time.


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