Learn how to create a cover letters for targeted and speculative jobs and get tips on how to complete an application form

Completing an Application Form

Overview of Completing an Application Form

They may seem pointless, but application forms are definitely worth your time and attention if you want to get it right. No clue where to start? Don't worry, here’s how to fill in a stellar application and land that job.

Research the company

Before even putting pen to paper, carefully research the organisation, the industry and the role to determine:

·         The skills they are seeking

·         What skills you have which are relevant to the job

·         What attracts you to the role

Don’t know where to start your research? Instructions to candidates, information about vacant positions and application procedures are usually in the ‘About us’ or ‘Careers’ section of company websites.

Education and qualifications

Most application forms ask you to list your qualifications and education, but sometimes they won’t give you a great deal of space to write them in. If there is limited space you may be able to:

·         Summarise key results or module titles

·         Add a separate sheet

·         Insert details into the additional information box 

For non-UK qualifications, you may need to state their UK equivalent. This is usually done by providing details of how many UCAS points they equate to. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has information on the comparability of international qualifications.

Employment history

List your jobs in reverse chronological order. Include the following:

·         Your job title

·         The name of the organisation

·         The name of the town (plus the country if it is overseas)

If the application form is to be used in conjunction with a Criminal Records Bureau check (DBS), you need to list the month as well as the year.

There may also be a box to describe the responsibilities and achievements of previous roles that relate to the skills required for the advertised job. You can aggregate or prioritise some experiences if space is limited. 

Interests and achievements

It’s time for the difficult part, the hobbies. Pay close attention to what skills the job ad is looking for, and try to relate your hobbies and activities to them if you can.

Describing your hobbies in a way that shows you are a sociable person also helps too, as it shows you can work well with others. And it's easy to do, “I am a member of a book club, rather than “I am a book worm”, for instance.

Personal statement

Provided with some white space, it can be tempting to go on - and on - but stick to the space provided or the word count given.

Don’t write a highly detailed chronological version of your career to date, (remember, you can elaborate in the interview), just pick out examples of skills or achievements that are relevant to the job. Less is more with personal statements, so stick to delivering the main, relevant messages.

Although don’t make claims you can’t prove. If you make an assertion, always back it up with evidence, such as “customer satisfaction ratings increased by 15% under my management.”

If the application ends up looking a bit too long and you just can’t edit it anymore, use subheads to flag things up and to make it easier to read.


At least one of your two referees should be work-related, including your current line manager, and if you’re a recent graduate one should be an academic at university - most people use their personal tutor. Remember:

·         Always seek their permission

·         Provide their full name and title, postal address, email address and phone number

·         Share your career aspirations and achievements with your referees

·         Keep them informed about the jobs you are going for 


·         Print the form and check your work before sending it out. Keep a copy.

·         Carefully check your spelling and grammar, poor English is a common reason for applications being rejected.

·         Use short sentences and paragraphs, which are easy to follow.

·         Use one idea or paragraph and state the key information in the first sentence.

·         Avoid jargon.

·         Use active verbs.

·         Do not repeat yourself.

·         Re- read over the job advert to ensure the information you include on the form is relevant.

·         Ask a critical friend to read through it

Sources: https://www.totaljobs.com/careers-advice/cvs-and-applications/how-to-write-an-application-form 23/06/2020

Last modified: Tuesday, 23rd June, 2:29 PM
Writing a Cover Letter

Cover Letters

well-written cover letter is essential for the majority of job applications to accompany your CV. A cover letter gives you the chance to successfully sell your skills, knowledge and abilities to prospective employers.

To ensure that you portray yourself in the best light, we’ve compiled our expert knowledge to create a guide on how to write the perfect cover letter. We’ve also included an example cover letter template to help you on your way to creating a successful cover letter. 

What is a cover letter?

Your cover letter  is a ‘personal introduction’ providing information as to why you would be suited to the vacancy. A cover letter is a document that is sent along side your CV it should help to complement your CV, and provide additional details on your qualifications and previous experience.

As your cover letter is one of the first things an employer or recruiter sees when looking at your job application, ensure that it highlights your skills and experience in relation to the job role.

A successful cover letter can make all the difference between acquiring an interview or sitting idly by the phone, waiting for that ever-elusive call.

Cover Letter Format

A cover letter is a professional document to accompany your CV, therefore it should be presented in business letter style format.

Ensure that it is in a readable font that matches your CV, so that employers can quickly scan for essential information. Use fonts such as Calibri, Arial, Verdana or Times New Roman – in size 10 or 12. Never include images or word art in your cover letter.

How long should a cover letter be?

No employer wants to be met by a wall of text when scouring applications; it’s best to keep your cover letter to one page, though 3-5 (short) paragraphs would be ideal. A recent employer survey found the following:

• 19% of employers preferred a full page
• 46% preferred half a page
• 11% had no preference
• 24% preferred shorter

As you can see from the above numbers, there’s a clear preference towards short cover letters. So make it snappy!

What to include in a cover letter

Header: Cover letters should always start with contact information, both yours and the employers. This contact information includes:
• First & Last Name
• Street Address
• City
• Postcode
• Phone Number
• Email Address

Salutation: Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms & Last Name

Introduction: In the first paragraph, make the reader aware of why you’re writing this letter. This means in essence – let them know who you are, include the job you’re applying for, and make mention of your objective.

2nd Paragraph: Touch on why you’d like to work for the company, and let them know of any knowledge or passion you have for this sector.

3rd Paragraph: Highlight your relevant skills and experience (as listed on your CV). Summarise any other strengths or qualifications you might have.

Closing: This paragraph should round up your cover letter, begin by reiterating your key skills and how they match the job role, then move on to thanking the employer for their time to read and mention that you look forward to hearing back from them.

Why is a cover letter necessary?

A cover letter allows you to give the employer a snapshot of why you’re the best candidate for the role. The goal is to show them how and why you fit their criteria, without their ever having to refer to your CV

Remember, the screening process can be extremely rigorous, so a cover letter is an opportunity to grab their attention from the very beginning. Recruiters and employers will often bin CVs that aren’t accompanied by a letter, so make sure you go the extra mile, and produce a cover letter to end all cover letters.

Can I use the same letter for my applications?

The resounding answer to this question is NO! Under no circumstance should you copy-paste your cover letter across applications. Don’t use generic lines like, ‘My name is ___, and I am applying for the position as ____’. All this serves to do is bore the person looking over your application, and you’ll most likely be passed over for a more original and exciting candidate. So show them that you’ve put in the time and effort – they’ll appreciate it.

Last modified: Tuesday, 22nd June 2020, 2:36 PM
A Speculative Cover Letter

career advice article header speculative cover letters what you need to know

A speculative cover letter

A speculative cover letter is sent alongside your CV when you apply to a company that isn’t currently advertising for staff.

Rather than being written with a particular position in mind, they’re usually more tailored to the company – selling your skills, experience and potential should any potential vacancies arise.

What should a speculative cover letter include? 

OK, so the specifics of what to include will vary depending on the job you’re applying for. Not to mention where you currently are in your career.

However, the format will be fairly similar to a standard cover letter:

  • Start with your personal information (e.g. name, address and contact details – never include a national insurance number or bank details).
  • Include a manager’s name (if you have it)
  • Dear Sir/Madam (if you don’t have a name)
  • A first main paragraph outlining what kind of role you’re looking for, and why you want to work for the company
  • A second paragraph explaining a bit more about your own skills and background
  • A closing paragraph to sum up why you’d be a great fit for the company, and how they could benefit from hiring you
  • A thank you for their time, and a professional sign-off (e.g. ‘Yours faithfully’)


Why should I send one?

Companies may not always advertise their available roles, for a variety of different reasons.

It could be that they’ve only just come up, or that they have to wait for internal applicants before putting the job out there. They might just not have any current vacancies on offer.

However, by sending a speculative application, you can demonstrate that you’re proactive and ahead of the game when it comes to your career. And even if they don’t have any roles at the moment, you’ll ensure you’re front-of-mind if a suitable positon does come up.

Because the company might need you – even if they don’t know it yet.


How does it differ from my CV?

Cover letters are important for all applications, but they take on even more importance for speculative ones.

CVs tend to be rigid, professional and impersonal. In contrast, your cover letter allows you to create a rapport with the reader and showcase how right you are for the company in a much more engaging way.

And, without a specific job to apply for, you need to work even harder to stand out. A well-written cover letter will talk about your skills, previous projects and selling points, and help keep you keep front of mind if any suitable jobs do come up.


How long should it be? 

Just over half a page of A4 – and no longer.

It should outline why you’re a great potential hire, and what makes you a great fit for the company. It should not be War and Peace.


Should I include some research about the company?


Let’s face it, recruiters are as prone to flattery as anyone else. By explaining why you want to work for their company, without even knowing if there are any roles available, you instantly demonstrate that you buy in to their product or company culture.

A few well-researched facts could be all it takes to back your interest up, not to mention show your dedication to the business before you’ve even joined.


How do I send a speculative application?

Firstly, try and find the appropriate person to address it to (e.g. the hiring manager, or a member of the HR team).

If you can find their email address, great. You can send it to general addresses, but it’s likely to get lost in the sea of other emails – so make sure it has a killer subject line.

Alternatively you can post the application, if you have the company’s address.


What do I do next?

Now you wait.

Usually the company will get in touch, to let you know whether they have any available positions, and if your application has been successful. However, this could take a little time to come through.

Alternatively, contacting the recruiter a few weeks after you send it is a great way to find out if they received your speculative cover letter and CV, as well as getting constructive feedback.

Remember: speculative cover letters won’t always work. But you won’t know until you try.

After all, what have you got to lose?

Information sourced https://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/speculative-cover-letters-what-you-need-to-know/ 

Last modified: Tuesday, 28 November 2017, 2:45 PM