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Covering Letter

A covering letter is not just the piece of paper you wrap your curriculum vitae (CV) up in. It is the first rung on the ladder of your marketing assault on the job market. And like it or not, you are a commodity, and if you are unable to sell yourself, you will not be of much use to an employer fighting to survive in a competitive marketplace. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

The recipient of your letter will read it and form judgments about your personality and your suitability for the job. Use it as a chance to highlight your strengths and any experience that is relevant to the job. Before you put pen to paper - or fingers to keyboard - you should bear in mind "the three Cs": Organisations prefer Conciseness and Clarity to Comprehensiveness.

Use just one side of an A4 paper, with no more than four paragraphs on it.

Structure Your Letter In Three Parts

  • Set the scene and explain why you are writing.
  • Provide supporting evidence or information about yourself. This is your chance to show what sets you apart from other candidates. Always accentuate the positive - for example, if you did not attain a class of degree that reflected your ability, highlight the amount of time you spent on student activities.
  • Suggest your "next step", such as "I look forward to hearing from you". When you have finished your letter, read it carefully. Have you got your main points across? Do you sound like a good, interesting candidate? Then show it to someone else, such as a career adviser, for comments. And always keep a copy of your letter, so you do not get caught out at the interview.

How To Quit Your Job And Still Be Friends

When it comes to long-term career prospects, it's wise to leave with a good impression. Here's how to quit your job with grace:

Be Discreet

Make sure your boss is the first person to know your decision. Have a resignation letter ready. Make it short and succinct, include information such as your notice being effective from that day and when you would like your last day to be. Give at least one month's notice.

Save The Sour Grapes

You may need your boss to be a referee for your next job, or you may return to the same firm at a later date. Telling her (or your next boss) exactly what you think will only make you seem bitter.

Watch Your E-mails

You may let loose your frustrations and gripe to a fellow colleague. Bad idea. E-mails are just too easy for someone to forward - and your grievances may wind up in your MD's inbox.

Be Accommodating

Write a memo to explain the status of your projects and anything else your boss needs to know. Offer to conduct a handover to your replacement. Refrain from "using up" your sick leave as this puts pressure on other staff. Remember, ex-colleagues are often called on to act as referees, so make sure you leave on good terms.

Express Thanks

Make sure to keep your farewells cordial. If you have nothing positive to say, try "I learnt a lot here" or "thanks for the opportunity". Your old boss may know your new one.


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