How to… Write a Covering Letter

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A covering letter is your personal sales pitch, offering you the opportunity to demonstrate why you want the job and why you would like to work for the organisation. It should be no longer than one side of A4.

Your CV and covering letter work as a pair to complement each other. The skills and experience you discuss in your covering letter should always expand on the basic content in your CV.

Content to Include In Your Cover Letter

  1. The opening

If you do not know the name of the hiring manager open with “Dear Sir/Madam”. You may wish to consider contacting the employer to find out to whom you should address the letter.

Explain which role it is that you are applying for, this can be as simple as adding a subheading with the job title. If a reference number is included in the advert include this here too.

  1. Why do you want to work for the company?

This paragraph should explain to the employer what it is about their organisation that made you apply. This is your opportunity to show the employer that you have done your research; re-read the job description and look at the company website and that of their competitors. Areas to consider are:

  • How does the company describe themselves?
  • How do they differ from their competitors?
  • Have they been involved in any exciting projects recently or had some exciting news?
  • Do you identify with the company’s values or mission?

  1. Why the role?

You should demonstrate your motivations for applying for the role in this paragraph. Ensure that you explain to the employer why this particular role has interested you, not just a career in the sector in general. To do this, look at the job description and responsibilities the role will involve, pull out two or three of these and discuss why you find them appealing.

  1. Why you?

The aim here is to show the employer how you are suited to the role, referring to the requirements that are included in the job description. Pull out three or four of these and demonstrate how you meet them with a short example for each.

  1. The ending

Reaffirm your suitability for the role, your enthusiasm about the prospect of working for the employer and state that you are looking forward to hearing from them.

Signing off:

  • If you know the name of whom you are addressing use “yours sincerely” to end your letter.
  • If you do not know the name of the person you are writing to, end with “yours faithfully”.

Top tips

  • Avoid copying and pasting information from your CV

Rephrase information or expand on the particular skills and achievements in your CV.

  • Refer to a charity as an organisation or ‘charity’ NOT a ‘company’.
  • Avoid using generalised statements

Be specific about your skills, experience and achievements.

  • Applying for work experience alongside your studies?

Draw on examples from a broad range of experiences including your degree, extra-curricular activities and part-time job.

Want some additional support? Come and chat to us in the Employability Hub, Business School!

 

Part Time Jobs Fair – Top Tips

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Open to all Manchester Met students, the Part Time Jobs Fair is a great way to find paid work alongside your studies.

As well as earning extra money whilst at university, you will be able to add experience and skills to your CV.

Here are our top tips to help you to make the most of the fair:

  • Be prepared
    Research the companies you want to approach and think of some questions to ask them at the fair.
  • Update your CV
    Some companies will accept CVs on the day so make sure yours is up to scratch by attending one of our workshops, reading our CV guide or using our CV drop in service.
  • Be confident
    This is your time to shine so make the most of this opportunity to sell your skills to employers.
  • Take notes
    Make a note of any useful contacts and conversations you have to make future contact easier.

Click here to find out which companies will be at the Part Time Jobs Fair.

When is it on?
Manchester
Thursday 22 September, 11am-3pm, Employability Hub, Business School

Cheshire
Wednesday 21 September, 2-4pm, Student Zone, Cheshire Campus

Staying safe during your job search

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There are lots of great job opportunities out there but with new research revealing a rise in online scammers targeting students and graduates, it is important you stay safe during your job search.

Although the vast majority of vacancies are legitimate, you should be vigilant when applying for jobs to make sure you remain protected.

The following could be warning signs for a job scam so stay safe and look out for:

  • Being asked to disclose details such as a personal bank account, national insurance number and/or passport number prior to interview
  • The use of personal email addresses by the hiring organisation rather than business accounts
  • Requests to make an upfront financial investment or deposit to cover administrative/registration fees, or requesting a candidate to pay for a CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau), which no longer exists
  • Illegitimate company names or web addresses
  • Lots of spelling and grammatical mistakes within the job advert
  • Anything that sounds too good to be true!

SAFERjobs is an e-crime non-profit organisation working to combat job scams. You can find information on common scams and get free, expert advice for a safer job search on their website.

If you have any concerns or questions about a job opportunity you have seen advertised, or job searching in general please do not hesitate to check out our advice online or get in touch with us.

You said, we did…targeted student communications

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To ensure that you are receiving information and advice relevant to you, your faculty or your course, we now send targeted email communications to keep you up to date. This includes monthly newsletters, weekly job alerts and event invitations.

You can also login to My Career Hub at any time and see tailored advertisements and notifications highlighting important events and information relevant to you.

Access a wide range of online resources to help you work out what to do with your degree or to get into your chosen sector on our website.

If you would like to speak to someone about the options available with your degree, you can book an appointment with your faculty Careers and Employability Consultant.

You said, we did…weekly pop-ups

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You can now find us across campus at our weekly pop-ups where you can get your CV checked and find out more about the range of support and events available to you. Pop-ups move around campus throughout the term so look out for us in your faculty!

We are continuously developing our service to ensure that you can easily access our support and events whichever faculty you are in. This has included extending our drop-in service to provide weekly drop-in sessions in Geoffrey Manton and Brooks with our expert Careers Consultants. Here, you can access initial careers advice including CV and LinkedIn profile checks in addition to job seeking support.

Keep an eye on our website and social media pages (Facebook and Twitter) for up to date times and locations.

 

You said, we did…Moodle feeds

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So that you can keep up to date with the latest jobs and events relevant to your course, we have introduced live tailored feeds to appear directly within your course Moodle areas.

The feeds are pulled directly from My Career Hub where you can find hundreds of job opportunities for during your studies and after graduation, as well as a wide range of events on and off campus and resources to help boost your job search.

We are working hard to provide these tailored feeds for all courses.

To access My Career Hub you simply need to login using your student ID and password here.

You said, we did…mentoring

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So that you can benefit from the knowledge and experience of professionals working in industry, we have invested in a new and improved online mentoring system MentorMatch, where you can access mentors working in a sector or role you are interested in.

As well as gaining insight into the working world, having a mentor is a great way of developing your skills including communication and networking and working out what you want to to do after you graduate.

To register with MentorMatch and view available mentors, you simply need to create a profile on our MentorMatch site. You can find out more here

You said, we did…student and graduate stories

Earlier this year we ran an online student survey to find out what you want to see from your Careers and Employability Service. With the start of the new academic year fast approaching, we want to share some of the changes we have made based on your feedback to improve our service to Manchester Met students and graduates!

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So that we can share more stories from students and graduates with you, we have relaunched this blog and a new Facebook page where we regularly post videos and content enabling you to learn from the experiences of others. Take a look at the blogs within the graduate and student stories categories to see how other students and graduates have found work, developed their skills and worked out what they want to do next.

Keep up to date with our latest blog content, jobs and news by liking our Facebook page.

We are always on the lookout for new stories and case studies, if you would like to help other students and graduates by sharing yours please get in touch!

 

Checklist your way to a dream creative job

Looking to land a job in the creative industries? Founder of professional creative community The Dots, Pip Jamieson shares her top tips for boosting your experience and portfolio ready to stand out from the crowd in the creative job market. 

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The scary thing about our industry is that while there are more creative jobs than ever before the competition is fierce. Since I started The Dots, incredibly talented juniors are always asking me for tips on how to get that all-important foot in the door.

To be honest, there is no single thing that will land you that dream job. But after compiling tips from creative directors, artists, agencies, recruiters, and industry bodies, I now firmly believe there is a combination of steps you can take, a secret sauce in a way, that if you take can guarantee you are league’s ahead of others vying for the same job.

GET PREPARED!

If you’re a student in your final year, or a recent graduate looking for that elusive ‘first job’, before you even start sending out applications it’s best to get all your ducks in a row.

Make sure you allocate enough time to work on your portfolio, cover letter, website, profile on The Dots, and identity, as this is a massive project in itself, but I guarantee it will set you up for life.

Work on Personal Projects

This quote has really stuck with me, “If your portfolio reflects nothing personal, then it might as well be someone else’s”. All the Creative Directors we’ve worked with have been massive fans of portfolios that include self-initiated personal projects. In the end, these Directors review hundreds of portfolios, and if they only include responses to university briefs, they start looking a bit samey. Including personal projects in your portfolio will not only help your portfolio stand out, but will show that you’re a self-starter who’s passionate about design. Below are some top tips on how to get the ball rolling on personal projects:

  • Create a Personal Identity: Let’s face it, your own brand is the most valuable brand you’ll ever work on and one of the only projects you’ll have complete creative license over.
  • Do an Internship: Internships are an amazing opportunity to get real-world experience, build up your portfolio of work and make contacts that can last a lifetime. If you are at university, ask if they have an internship programme. If they don’t, lobby for one! Also, more and more job boards have internship roles appearing. Obviously I’d recommend The Dots but hey, I’m biased. There are loads more out there, just Google “Internships” and take your pick. As long as they’re paid and well structured, internships are an amazing opportunity to get real-world experience and build up portfolio of work.
  • Enter Competitions: Competition pieces are a step above student work. If you don’t win at least you have some great content for your portfolio. If you do win, it’s an amazing way to get your work and name out there. Fantastic competitions include D&AD New Blood and Young Cannes Lions & Design Council Ones To Watch. But there are loads more, just check The Dots for updates.
  • Ask a senior creative for a Brief: Contacting a senior creative who inspires you and asking them for a brief is not only an amazing way to challenge yourself creatively, but if they like your response they may even offer you a job.
  • Help out a Friend or Family Member: Friends and family always need creative services, be it designing their wedding or party invites, an identity for their business, a new website, some copywriting, social marketing tips, etc. You’ll not only get fresh content for your portfolio and resume, but also win major brownie points in the process.
  • Collaborate: Find a group of friends you love working with and start collaborating. Come up with your own passion project — be it an exhibition, a zine, a pop-up store, a product range, an installation, hosting a creative event — whatever goes really. It’s a great way to show potential employers that you are self-starting, with a true passion for creativity.

You can find lots more information and tips for getting into the creative industries in our careers guides here. As a Manchester Met student or graduate you can also access specialist one-yo-one support from our Careers and Employability Consultant linked to Manchester School of Art, call 0161 247 3483 to book an appointment.

Why volunteer? Give a little, gain a lot

After graduating from Manchester Met in 2015, Politics graduate Magda Romaniuk volunteered as a Research Assistant in Grenada for the summer. She has recently worked as a Student and Employer Engagement Intern for Careers and Employability as part of the Manchester Met Graduate Internship Scheme. Here, she talks about her experience, the skills gained from volunteering and why students should take advantage of volunteering opportunities.

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I first started to think about volunteering abroad after attending the ‘Soon is Now’ employability event held by the Faculty of Humanities, Languages and Social Science where alumni shared their career stories.

After doing my research, I very quickly decided that volunteering abroad was for me. Considering my love for traveling and animals, I chose to volunteer as a Research Assistant with Ocean Spirits Inc. in the Caribbean to work on a conservation project to protect endangered leatherback sea turtles in Grenada.

From day one, my experience was remarkable. On our very first day, we encountered a leatherback sea turtle nesting on the Levera Beach, where we were able to gain hands on experience performing carapace (shell) measurements, egg counts and nest relocation.

As a Research Assistant, I took part in variety of tasks, including leatherback sea turtle monitoring, research and community outreach programmes. My work in the communities included school turtle watching field trips, educational sessions with children at local schools, as well as participating with communities in the Climate Walk and Ocean’s Day Walk. Together with other volunteers, we had a chance to nurture children’s genuine interest and encourage these future stewards of Grenada to act responsibly with regards to the environment. It was a very rewarding experience being able to educate communities and raise awareness of environmental issues.

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The cultural differences between the Caribbean and Western cultures made this experience an education for me too. I had the opportunity to visit local factories and plantations, and I tried local cuisine including the national dish called Oil Down (pronounced ile dung).

I worked within a group of volunteers from different countries and I have made friends for life. A few months after returning from Grenada, I was lucky to fly to the Netherlands for a reunion. This summer I am looking forward to hosting a fellow volunteer in Manchester.

Taking part in volunteering abroad has also been a great way to develop new skills and knowledge, as well as boosting my CV. In a competitive job market, prospective employers want to see what makes you different from all the other candidates, and I believe volunteering is a great way of standing out from the crowd. In my own experience, this has been proven, when I secured the role of a Student & Employer Engagement Intern at Manchester Met, I received following feedback from one of the members of the interview panel:

“When shortlisting candidates for our Student and Employer Engagement Intern position, we were looking for someone who had work and life experience outside of their studies. Magda’s volunteering experience overseas really made us notice her application as it demonstrated her independence and range of transferable skills. During the interview process, Magda used her volunteering experience throughout questioning as evidence of her ability to meet our criteria. Volunteering is a great way of gaining valuable experience which can make candidates stand out when applying for jobs even if it isn’t directly relevant to the role.”

I count myself lucky that I encountered the closest thing we have to the last living dinosaur, and to know that I was able to be of some help to protect the endangered leatherback sea turtle is a fantastic feeling that has stayed with me. Moreover, through this volunteering experience I have gained more benefits that I would have ever imagined. Developing new skills and knowledge, exploring a different country, as well as making new friends seems like a lot to gain in exchange for contributing your free time.

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My advice to you

People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some it offers the chance to give something back to the community, make a difference to other people’s lives or to the environment. For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge.

Whatever your interest and motivation and whether you are thinking of volunteering in the UK or abroad, there will be a volunteering opportunity right for you. I advise everyone to try volunteering, as you will give a little but gain a lot!

 

If you are considering volunteering in the UK or overseas we can help! Come along to our daily drop-in, 1pm – 4pm in the Employability Hub, Business School Building for initial advice, check out our guide to working abroad or find volunteering opportunities through the Students’ Union