School Leaver Cover Letter
For some school leaver programmes, you might be required to send in a more traditional cover letter and CV, rather than tackle the slalom of online applications.
In any case, knowing how to put together an effective cover letter is a good skill to have.
So how can you write this tricky little critter of a school leaver cover letter? How can you avoid descending into cliché? What the heck do you put in it? Don’t fret! We’ve got the answers.
How do I write a school leaver cover letter?
The trick is to channel a bit of Beyoncé (no, that doesn’t mean you have to learn the Single Ladies dance) - tell them: "Baby it's you, you're the one I want".
To do that, every school leaver cover letter you write should be tailored to the company and the school leaver programme you are applying for. Sending off the same old cover letter to everybody won’t impress.
To construct a beautifully tailored cover letter, you’ll need to do your research. Find out exactly what the company does, what it values and what makes it different.
You can look at its website, follow the company on Twitter or Facebook, and read any articles you can find about the firm. We also have employer profiles that you can check out!
School leaver cover letter mistakes
How to sell yourself
The second stage of your research will involve scrutinising the school leaver opportunity on offer. Find out what it’ll involve and what kind of candidate they are looking for.
Nowadays, most people send their cover letter via email. Paper cover letters usually include the company’s address, your address and the date at the top, but you can leave these out if you’re sending it via email.
However, your email should still feel like a formal letter and be written in a professional style. It needs to be relatively concise, about three to four short paragraphs long.
It should start “Dear…” and end “Yours sincerely” if it’s being sent to a named person; if you haven’t managed to find out a name then use: “Yours faithfully” followed by your name.
Try and find out who will be reading your school leaver cover letter, so you can address your school leaver cover letter to a named person. To find out, you could give the company a call and ask them who will be receiving your cover letter.
Let’s get down to business…
The key to writing an effective school leaver letter is to think about the expectations of the reader. Most likely, they’ll be looking for answers to the following questions:
1) Who are you and why are you writing to me?
2) Why are you interested in my company and the school leaver programme?
3) Why should you be interviewed for the job? What skills do you have that will make you an asset to the company and the school leaver programme?
You could use your first paragraph to answer the first question, your second paragraph to answer the second question and your third paragraph to answer the last question. Got it? Good.
Right, let’s start with that all-important first paragraph. Recruiters read a lot of cover letters and, quite frankly, they’ll see the same stock phrases cropping up all the time. Try and think of different ways of formulating your sentences to pique their interest.
Just because you need to keep it formal, it doesn’t mean you can assail them with dull and lifeless prose.
You might want to use the first paragraph to introduce yourself, tell them what school leaver opportunity you are interested in and perhaps provide a unique reason why their company appeals to you.
...and the rest
Use the next paragraph to expand on why you’re interested in the company, the school leaver programme and the industry. Again, try to come up with some different and genuine reasons.
One of the trickiest parts of the letter to write will be the section where you detail the attributes and skills that you feel will make you a strong candidate for the school leaver programme.
In all likelihood, the employer will have a list of competencies that they are looking for. You need to tell them that you have these qualities, but you also need to provide evidence of them by providing brief examples.
If you don’t have much work experience (they won’t be expecting you to), you can draw examples from your studies and extra-curricular activities.
Proofread it. Proofread it again. You don’t want all that hard work to be undone by a silly typo, a lazy spelling mistake or an unfortunate grammatical error. Make sure you've got the dos and don'ts of grammar down to a tee.
by Michael Cheary
Looking for help to make your CV shine? We’ve got you covered…
You spent hours crafting your first professional CV. Now it’s time to take care of the cover letter. Don’t think you have to include one? Think again.
Even if it’s not required by the recruiter, a well-written cover letter can be the difference between standing out from the crowd and fading into an ever-growing pile of applications. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make the most of the extra opportunity.
We’ve already covered how to write a cover letter, but if you’re worried that you’re lacking the experience to make it work for you, here’s our cover letter template specifically designed for recent school leavers:
Just here for the template? Click the link below:
Download School Leaver Cover Letter Template
Opening the letter
With the opening, keep it short and simple. Highlight the role you’re applying for, and where you found the vacancy.
Feel free to mention the website by name (e.g. as advertised on reed.co.uk) or, if someone referred you to the contact, this is the right place to name-drop them.
I wish to apply for the role of Apprentice Engineer, currently being advertised on reed.co.uk. Please find enclosed my CV for your consideration.
Second paragraph – Why are you suitable for the job?
Briefly describe any qualifications which you believe are most suitable to the job at hand.
These could include GCSE’s, A-levels, for example, and any other qualification you may have attained. If you haven’t had your exam results confirmed yet, stating your projected grades will be acceptable.
As you can see from my attached CV, I have recently completed my A-levels, earning an A and a B in Physics and Mathematics respectively, which I believe I can put to practical use in this role.
Third/Fourth paragraph – What can you do for the company?
Use practical examples to demonstrate what you could do for the company if you were to be hired. These might be performance based (i.e. from previous positions), but will most likely be focussed on your academic career.
Be as specific as possible. Include any extra details or modules studied which you feel may be of particular interest. And if you feel there are any extra-curricular activities you’ve undertaken which may help to reinforce your skills, your cover letter is the perfect place to bring them up.
Examples to use in this section could include books you’ve read around the subject, seminars you’ve attended, or any volunteer or work experience positions you’ve taken to help build the foundations for your career.
This position particularly interests me because of my passion for Mechanics. During my studies, my coursework focussed on X, which helped build my knowledge around the subject.
I further added to my interest in this field independently. For example, recently I completed two weeks work experience with a leading oil and gas company, which helped me expand upon, and start practically applying, what I’ve learned in my studies.
Fifth paragraph – Reiterate
Here’s where you reiterate your interest in the role and reinforce what makes you the perfect candidate.
If you’re running out of adjectives, or feel like you’re not sure which skills are most relevant, here’s a clue – use the job description. This will undoubtedly include a list of preferred characteristics, giving you a great idea just what the perfect candidate should look like.
I see the role of Apprentice Engineer as the perfect position for me to make the most of my passion and enthusiasm, and also build the foundations for a successful career in the Mechanical Engineering industry. Despite my limited work experience, I believe my eagerness to learn, coupled with my hard-work and dedication, will help Engineering Company LTD build upon their reputation as one of the most respected infrastructure providers in the UK.
Closing the letter
Thank the employer for their time, and sign off your cover letter with ‘Yours sincerely’ (if you know the name of the hiring manager)/’Yours faithfully’ (if you do not), and your name.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my application further.
Remember: Just as with our standard free cover letter template, this is a template, not a ready-made cover letter. The success of any cover letter takes time – and should be tailored to the role with the right amount of research. No exceptions.
That also means that, unlike a CV, a new cover letter should be written each time you apply for a job. It may seem like a laborious process, but trust us, it’ll be well worth it.
In fact, four out of ten recruiters we surveyed indicated that they wouldn’t even look at your application without a cover letter. So don’t rule yourself out of a role simply because it requires a little more effort to do things properly.
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