5 steps to a compelling cover letter for planning professionals

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Neville Rose, director of CV Writers, shares his tips on what makes a great cover letter.

Cover letters certainly divide opinion between recruiters. Here at CV Writers we carried out some research. Our findings showed whilst one in three recruiters would read a CV regardless of whether a cover letter was included or not, another one in three would only read a CV if the cover letter left them suitably impressed. Therefore, it makes sense that you should not take the chance and always include a cover letter with your application.

Keep it brief

Your cover letter should be around three to four paragraphs and certainly should not exceed one page. Just like your CV, the cover letter will most likely be scan read so it is imperative that it is easy on the eye with plenty of white space too. You don’t need to go into fine detail, just give a flavour of what you are about. Never lose sight of the fact that the purpose of a CV and cover letter is to secure an interview, not the actual job itself.

What to include in your cover letter

Quite simply, the covering letter is all about ensuring that you meet the criteria of the person specification. With this in mind, a generic covering letter used for each of your job applications is not an ideal approach. It is much better to tailor your cover letter for every application and make sure you demonstrate clearly how you meet the individual criteria for that post.

Provide examples as evidence

Recruiters like to see that you can back up your talk with action and the best way to demonstrate this is via examples. Using real-life examples of your achievements as a planner provides tangible proof of your capabilities. Describing your accomplishments helps the reader form pictures and visualise what you’ve done. By doing this, you are helping make your letter much more memorable.

What about personal circumstances?

As a rule of thumb, you should only include information that enhances your application. Personal information is best left out of your cover letter unless it provides a positive point of difference to your application. You don’t want to give any cause for rejecting your application. So if there is anything you are not sure about then it is probably best left until interview. It is usually much easier to discuss personal circumstances face-to-face.

What is the call to action?

Your cover letter is there to support your CV. Generally, a cover letter will be read first so you need to sign off by nudging the reader in the direction of your CV. Now your letter has whetted their appetite, your CV is where an interview will be secured.

Neville Rose is director of CV Writers. 

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