- Career and study advice
Writing a cover letter
Covering letters and supporting statements
A covering letter is usually sent with your CV and is set out as a formal business letter. A supporting (or personal) statement usually forms part of an application form, and may be in response to statements such as the following:
‘Please use the space below to indicate why you feel that you are suitable for this post, including details of relevant experience and evidence of your ability to meet the selection criteria.’
HOW DO I DEMONSTRATE MY SKILLS?
Give an example of how you’ve used the skill or knowledge. The STAR method can help when you are giving this evidence:
Situation: Briefly set the scene. Think about the minimum the employer needs to know in order to understand your example.
Task: Briefly describe what you had to do (the task you faced).
Action: Describe in detail what you did and how you did it. Refer specifically to the relevant competency (e.g. team working). This is the most important section, as it demonstrates your skills and abilities.
Result: Described what happened as a result of your Actions. What happened, changed or got better?
SHOWING YOUR MOTIVATION
Tell the organisation why you want the position and show motivation and enthusiasm. Avoid vague statements and blatant flattery; be specific and illustrate your opinions with some original points. This is also the chance to deal directly and positively with any gaps or apparent weaknesses in your skills or experience.
Your closing paragraph is a good opportunity to restate your interest and summarise your suitability. If you are sending a covering letter for an unadvertised job, you can demonstrate your keenness by informing the organisation that you will follow up your letter with a phone call.
PROFESSIONAL STYLE AND LENGTH
It is important to be concise and formal. You need to demonstrate your writing style and your ability to present a persuasive argument clearly using relevant information. Covering letters should normally be one page long; supporting statements are more variable, and often will have a word or page limit you must stick to.
Remember to personalise your cover letter for each role.