Using covering letter templates

17/05/2017

The Pros and Cons of using covering letter templates.

When you need to write a letter to send off with your CV or application form, you might go straight to Google and search for the standard templates – but hang on a moment and read this first!

There are distinct advantages and disadvantages and you need to be aware of them before you click download.

Pros

Everything you need is there, with gaps for information – but use it like a prompt sheet and definitely don’t just use it as it is! If the formatting and your computer is incompatible in any way, the document might not save correctly. If you email it straight off and the recipient can’t open it, you will have fallen at the first hurdle.

Cons

The templates are available to everyone – part of the importance of the covering letter is to grab the reader’s attention. A potential employer may receive hundreds of applications and the first sift might well be based on the covering letter. If your letter is too similar to the last ten letters, you’ll miss out. 

Top Tips

Read the job description – have you used key words from the advert to show that you have really read it carefully?

Make sure you sound interested – make your letter personal and specific to the job that you are applying for. A generic letter that could be interchangeable for any application won’t stand out and win you that all important interview.

Demonstrate your excellent communication skills – with the world changing so quickly, communication now is often by text or phone. It’s really important that you are able to show that you are able to communicate properly.  With full sentences, perfect spelling and a good grasp of the English language, you’ll be more valuable to a company.

Stand out! The biggest issue with templates, is that you are not a template! You are an individual, and you want to come across as one. Your achievements and your passion need to come across, and they won’t if you rely heavily on the standard fields in a template.

Our advice

By all means use a template as a guide – but our advice is to open a new document and carefully type the relevant job specific and personal information to make sure you really personalise the letter.  Check a few different websites to make sure that you don’t forget anything important. Then run a spell check. Print your letter and read it out loud – or better still ask a friend to read it and check it for you. Most people find it hard to proof read their own work as they tend to read what they ‘think’ they have written. Reading it out loud slows down our reading and any missing or incorrect words become more obvious.

If the advert asks for a cover letter, then include all the information that it asks for – keep it short and specific, your CV will contain the relevant information pertaining to the job and your experience. Use your common sense! Let your character and personality come across in the letter but keep it professional.