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Keeping lasting connections

'Reach Out' to resources that will help your future job applications

25/01/2021

If you have recently left our business, you may remember the Reach Out programme that we put in place to support people in their next steps. A website was created that contained lots of practical advice on what to do next, from applying for a particular role through to attending an interview. As well as the live workshops that we ran, we also provided staff with lots of resources which we have been able to make available to people after they have left, through our Alumni.

There is a saying: “this is the first day of the rest of your life”, and we hope that through the NEC Group Alumni, we can continue to support former colleagues with their future careers.

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In this article we have enclosed a number of resources that may help you if you have found yourself in a position whereby you are having to re-write or update your CV:

Over the next few weeks, we will update the Alumni site with other useful content so please stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch: [email protected]

Our tips on creating a killer cover letter (courtesy of the NEC Group L&D Team):

After hours spent crafting your CV, it can seem a chore to then transfer the information into letter format. However, your cover letter shouldn’t be a regurgitation of your CV. Instead, it should zoom in on a few key skills and experiences on your CV that the employer values the most. As a result, your cover letter should be bespoke for every application.

Some recruiters may receive hundreds of applications a day, so your cover letter gives you a chance to stand out from the crowd. With 57.1% of professionals ranking the cover letter as an essential application component, you can’t afford to leave it out.

We know that writing these letters can seem daunting at first, especially as it can feel like there’s a lot to remember. To help, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to building your cover letter and tailoring it for each opportunity you apply to.

1. DO YOUR RESEARCH

Research is a crucial part of many aspects of job hunting, and before you begin writing your cover letter, you need to make sure you’ve done your research properly.

The important things you should research before writing are:

  • Who will be receiving and reading your letter?
  • The skills and experience mentioned in the job description
  • The company and its culture
  • Their competitors and market position
  • The sector and any recent news or trends
  • The organisation’s aims for 2020 and beyond

Building up a good knowledge of the company and industry helps you to tailor your cover letter for each company you apply to and shows your passion for the job and sector.

2. FORMAT

There’s a basic format for writing a cover letter that you can follow each time. However, every letter you write should be tailored to the specific job role or company you’re applying for.

Your cover letter should address the following:

  • Which position interests you and why
  • Your most relevant skills and experiences
  • How your skills and experiences can benefit the employer
  • Requesting an interview

Below is a basic break down of how you should structure your cover letter for 2020:

[Your address Line 1]
[Address Line 2]
[Address Line 3]
[Phone Number]

[Company address line 1]
[Company address line 2]

[Date]

To [Name],

Paragraph 1:
Your opening paragraph should be short and sweet made up of three things: why you’re writing the letter, the position you’re applying for, how you found out about the position. For example: “I am writing to apply for the role of [job title], in response to an advert I saw on [name of job site]. Please find my CV attached.”

Paragraph 2:
The second paragraph should be about you, expanding on your CV and giving a brief summary of any relevant skills or education you have. Remember, your cover letter shouldn’t be a copy of your CV; it should take your most notable achievements, explain a bit more about them, and then show how these skills could benefit the employer. Mirror the skills mentioned and the phrasing that’s used in the job description.

Paragraph 3:
The third paragraph is your chance to show your knowledge of the company and the sector and go into detail about why you want to work for their company specifically. You should state how you can help the company and add to their success, as well as why you’ll fit in with the company culture and core values.

Paragraph 4:
End your letter with a call to action. As you’re hoping to secure an interview, let them know your availability for a call back. If you plan to follow up with a phone call, say so! If you plan to wait for a response, close with “I look forward to hearing from you”. Thank them for taking the time to read your letter and sign off with:

Yours sincerely,
[Your Name]

3. SENDING A COVER LETTER ONLINE

With today’s technology, it’s common to send a cover letter – and a whole job application, for that matter – online or by email. This is especially common on job boards like CV-Library, and even with direct employers. If you need to send a cover letter online or via email, the approach you should take is a little different in terms of formatting.

  • If you just need to send your cover letter as an attachment, then write it as explained before. When it comes to saving it, make sure you use the .PDF file extension; any computer will be able to view the file, and all your formatting will be preserved.
  • Windows PCs use the .docx file extension for documents by default, whereas Macs use .pages. Avoid either of these, because there’s a chance that the employer won’t be able to open your cover letter. Stick with .PDF.
  • If you need to send your cover letter as the actual body text of your email, your approach will need to be slightly different. First, make sure you format the subject line of your email like so:

 Application for [Job Title] – [Your Name]

  • If you were given a reference number, include that in the subject line as well. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to think about the layout of your letter. The paragraphs can be the same as a hard copy of your cover letter, but you can remove the addresses, date and signature.

If you’re applying for a job via a job board, you can sometimes afford to scale down your cover letter to key components. Check out this cover letter template for 2020:

Hi [Name],

I am interested in applying for the current vacancy you have for a [job title].

In my current role as [role title] with [company name], I am responsible for [insert relevant experience relating to job advert] but am currently looking to make a step up into a more challenging role with a reputable company who can offer career growth.

I am currently on a notice period of [notice period] and can interview immediately.

Kind regards,
[Name]

[Phone number]
[Email]

4. HOW LONG SHOULD MY COVER LETTER BE?

Your cover letter should be no longer than a single A4 page. This can be tricky, especially since you want to impress the employer with all your skills and experience. But trust us; they simply won’t be interested in reading a 3,000-word essay. Even if they were, they probably just wouldn’t have the time! Keep it short, sweet, and simple.

5. TAILORING EACH COVER LETTER

Each cover letter you write should be tailored specifically to the company and role you’re writing it for and should be detailed. Therefore, you’ll want to avoid vague and generic phrases.

During the research stage, try to find the name of the hiring manager or whoever will be reading your letter. This way you can make the letter even more personal, and it will prove you’re a determined candidate who wants this job.

If you really can’t get hold of their name, you should instead start the letter with “Dear Sir or Madam” – but remember, if you don’t know their name, ensure you sign off your letter with “Yours faithfully” instead.

Read the job description so you can pick which of your skills or experiences to reference and try to mirror some of the phrases they use in the job description. Illustrate your skills with examples to show why you’re the ideal candidate; as each company and role will be different, you’ll probably find that you’re using different examples on each letter.

Having done your research, you should also be able to talk specifically about the company in greater detail. Refer to their values or specific campaigns they have run that you enjoyed. This way they’ll know that you took the time to learn about their company and that you’re genuinely interested in them and the role.

Good luck in your future job applications and do let us know how you found this content, delivered to you by our L&D Team.

Best regards everyone.

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