Example cover letter

Yesterday we started looking at cover letters with some basic principles. Today I’m going to provide you with an example to help you get started on your own letters.

Just a quick reminder on our basic structure:

• 1st paragraph: explain specifically why you are interested in this vacancy in this organisation.

• 2nd paragraph: highlight relevant work experience – use the job advert to work out what the top 3 criteria they want in a candidate and show that you’ve got these from past experience.

• 3rd paragraph: round-up by making it clear why you are leaving your current position/active on the job market, and how to get in touch with you.

So here’s our job advert. Let’s start to compose our cover letter:

Opening

We have an actual contact name, so let’s use this in the salutation: Dear Mrs Dobson,

2nd paragraph

Yes, we’ll start with the second paragraph. This is because it is easier to write than the first. If we go back to the advert, let’s list the criteria that are wanted. It’s a good idea to pick apart the list, and separate the factual items. We’ve done this in the list below by identifying them in blue:

• a caring and friendly person

• to provide general care

able to work 14 hours per week flexibly

• some understanding of caring for older people is helpful

• reliable

own car essential

The remainder of the items are aspects you have to demonstrate through previous work or experience. This helps us start to compose our structure.

I bet that it’s been difficult to find people that can work 14 hours a week flexibly. That’s probably the one thing that not many people will be able to accommodate. Let’s handle the factual aspects first:

I am currently studying for a degree in Social Care with the Open University, which allows me to work part-time (up to 16 hours a week) on a flexible basis as I can conduct my studies at any time and have no commitments to specific lecture or tutorial times. I have a full clean driving licence and my own car.

Now let’s tackle the other aspects.

I have some understanding and experience of caring for older people, having worked at a local residential care home for two years. I provided basic care duties to ten residents, helping them with personal hygiene, day to day activities such as dressing and ensuring physiotherapy exercises can be done safely, laundry, and arranging medical appointments and visits.

I also had responsibility for organising activities for the residents, such as quizzes and bingo, and visits and talks from local historians and musical groups. Whenever possible, I enjoyed spending time in conversation with residents, getting to know them better and understanding what activities they preferred.

We haven’t covered “reliability” in our paragraphs, but given that the person has worked in a care home for two years, it could be implied.

3rd paragraph

This is where we need to explain why the person is active on the job market, and how to get in touch. Whenever explaining your reasons for leaving, it’s better to be factual, positive, and not be critical of previous employers.

Unfortunately due to financial difficulties the care home I have been working for is in the process of closing. Therefore I am looking for alternative care work and will be available for work from the end of this month. If you would like to contact me please telephone me on XXXXX.

Closing

As we wrote to an actual contact name, we should end the letter with Yours sincerely.

1st paragraph

Don’t forget, we started with our second paragraph, so we need to go back to write the beginning of our letter. In this section we need to explain specifically why you are interested in this job. It’s good to say where you saw details about the job, as well.

I am writing to apply for the vacancy for a Carer for an elderly lady, which I saw advertised in the Anytown Gazette on 3 April. Please find enclosed a copy of my CV. I have experience of providing practical care to elder individuals, in terms of their personal care and also helping them to pursue interests and activities. This vacancy would allow me to provide both general practical assistance, as well as ensuring the elderly lady requiring care had companionship.

Putting it all together and editing

Let’s see how the paragraphs flow now, and work out if we need to edit anything.

Dear Mrs Dobson,

I am writing to apply for the vacancy for a Carer for an elderly lady, which I saw advertised in the Anytown Gazette on 3 April. Please find enclosed a copy of my CV. I have experience of providing practical care to elder individuals, in terms of their personal care and also helping them to pursue interests and activities. This vacancy would allow me to provide both general practical assistance, as well as ensuring the elderly lady requiring care had companionship.

I am currently studying for a degree in Social Care with the Open University, which allows me to work part-time (up to 16 hours a week) on a flexible basis as I can conduct my studies at any time and have no commitments to specific lecture or tutorial times. I have a full clean driving licence and my own car.

I have some understanding and experience of caring for older people, having worked at a local residential care home for two years. I provided basic care duties to ten residents, helping them with personal hygiene, day to day activities such as dressing and ensuring physiotherapy exercises can be done safely, laundry, and arranging medical appointments and visits.

I also had responsibility for organising activities for the residents, such as quizzes and bingo, and visits and talks from local historians and musical groups. Whenever possible, I enjoyed spending time in conversation with residents, getting to know them better and understanding what activities they preferred.

Unfortunately due to financial difficulties the care home I have been working for is in the process of closing. Therefore I am looking for alternative care work and will be available for work from the end of this month. If you would like to contact me please telephone me on XXXXX.

Yours sincerely

Jenny Smith

To me there are some sentences that could be improved with some editing:

• The first sentence in paragraph 2 is quite long

• Our tenses in paragraph 3 and 4 need tidying up

• Our first paragraph could do with some work as well

Here is our new version, see if you can spot the differences:

Dear Mrs Dobson,

I am writing to apply for the vacancy for a Carer for an elderly lady, which I saw advertised in the Anytown Gazette on 3 April. Please find enclosed a copy of my CV. Having enjoyed the experience of providing practical care to elder individuals in a residential home, this vacancy would allow me to continue my caring career. My interest lies in ensuring that elder people have the chance to lead fulfilling later lives, pursuing hobbies and having an active social life. Being able to care for an individual person would allow me to enjoy this companionship and provide better care.

I am currently studying for a degree in Social Care with the Open University, which allows me to work part-time (up to 16 hours a week) on a flexible basis. I can conduct my studies at any time and have no commitments to specific lecture or tutorial times. I have a full clean driving licence and my own car.

I have some understanding and experience of caring for older people, having been a Care Assistant at a local residential care home for the last two years. I provide basic care duties to ten residents, helping them with personal hygiene, day to day activities such as dressing and ensuring physiotherapy exercises can be done safely, laundry, and arranging medical appointments and visits.

I have responsibility for organising activities for the residents, such as quizzes and bingo, and visits and talks from local historians and musical groups. Whenever possible, I enjoy spending time in conversation with residents, getting to know them better and understanding what activities they prefer.

Unfortunately due to financial difficulties the care home I am working for is in the process of closing. Therefore I am looking for alternative care work and will be available for work from the end of this month. If you would like to contact me please telephone me on XXXXX.

Yours sincerely

Jenny Smith

So there it is: a cover letter from start to finish. You can adopt this approach to help you with your cover letters, and you can always get in touch if you have specific questions: either post a comment below, or email me at expertcareersuk@googlemail.com

Tomorrow we’ll finish off our week looking at writing in your job searches with some hints for proof reading and editing skills.

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