This is the advice I have recently given to a career coaching client looking to put together the perfect covering email or letter.
It really depends on the circumstances in which you are using these, but generally you should be sending CVs as attachments and a covering email to go with the CV which should, in a nutshell, set out who you are and what your main assets are in as few words as possible. The more information you include, the less likely it is that someone will want to read the covering email and instead go straight to the CV.
An example (assuming you were applying for a paralegal post):
Dear [always name the person],
I would like to apply for the paralegal post advertised on ChanceryLane.co.uk. My CV is attached for your attention.
My name is Bob Smith and I have over 2 years paralegal experience in law firms to date, including Jones & Co in London and Smith & Co in Birmingham. My experience to date includes litigation, property, general administration and commercial work.
Salary expectations are negotiable and I am available immediately for interview and work. I am also happy to undertake a short trial period if required.
I will call in the next 15 minutes to confirm receipt of this email and hope to hear from you soon.
The only time the covering email will alter is if you have specific experience relevant to a specific post. So for example if you had corporate commercial experience, the commercial covering letter would alter simply to have your commercial experience in the second paragraph – eg I have over 3 months worth of corporate commercial work, including …… (give a few examples of things you have done but keep it very general and very brief).
The same applies for other fields of law or facts likely to be of interest.
There is no magic about covering emails or letters – most recruiters will go straight to your CV as it saves reading more than is necessary. Personally I never read them under any circumstances. Usually I find that they are full of waffly nonsense that is just indecipherable – eg: “I am bubbly, enthusiastic, with a confident nature”. Do I care? No. All I want to know is whether you have sufficient experience and qualifications for me to put you forward for a post.
Hope this assists anyone job hunting and worrying about writing a covering letter or covering email!
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment – www.ten-percent.co.uk