A cover letter is a bit like your personal statement on a UCAS application, but for a job. A speculative cover letter is the same, apart from it’s sent as part of a speculative application, along with your CV.
It’s a real chance to show yourself off to potential employers and demonstrate how your skill set fits their company.
This is therefore an opportunity to show yourself off in the best way possible and as open-endedly as possible – because you’re not applying for a particular job, you need to show how versatile you are as a candidate and highlight your key skills so that the company can look for places where you could add to their organisation. Tricky, huh?!
‘We never go out of style…’
There are some style rules that are pretty important when doing this. Because this is a speculative application, you need to make sure that your application is not going to be thrown out straight away.
What it therefore has to be is concise and interesting, well laid out and containing no spelling or grammar errors. Check, check and check again. You don’t want to lose out on the job of your dreams because you forgot to capitalise the name of the company you’re applying for.
Three or four paragraphs should be more than enough to show how great you are without boring your reader!
Keep good company…
Because you’re not applying for a specific role, you need to be extra keen on showing why the company appeals to you and how you’d be a good fit. Do your research! What is it in particular that attracts you to the company?
You need to also make sure that the tone of your letter is matched to that of the company – if it’s a formal, traditional organisation then match the phrasing of your cover letter to suit that – don’t go using colloquialisms and smiley faces!
So what goes into the actual letter? First off, if it’s possible, find out the name of the person who this letter will go to – using someone’s name is far more likely to endear you to him or her than the standard Dear Sir/Madam.
It’s a simple trick, but one which you should always employ. Make sure the first paragraph outlines what you’re currently doing (University, School, etc.) and what you’re looking to do.
The next two paragraphs should highlight your key skills and back these up with relevant examples and references. Making sure that each skill has examples and experiences is a good way of proving that you’re not just making up what you’re good at and also offers you the opportunity to show a diverse range of things you’ve been involved in that might not have quite made the cut for your CV.
‘I open at the close…’
You need to finish off in style as well – saying something like ‘I look forward to your reply’ or ‘Looking forward to hearing from you’ is a good way of making a statement that you are expecting some sort of consideration and shows you are confident in your own abilities.
Your signature should also reflect the way you began your correspondence – if you found out the name of your recipient, then ‘Yours Sincerely’ is the correct way of closing out the letter, whereas if you didn’t, a ‘Yours Faithfully’ should do the trick!
Putting in your contacts…
Make sure you sign off your name and leave a variety of ways to contact you – the company may prefer to do business over the phone or by email, so don’t sell yourself short at the end. Make your signature look professional and you’ll be well on your way to a reply!