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How to demonstrate your interest in an organisation in cover letters and application forms without sounding bland, pedantic, predictable and unconvincing

One of the most common questions careers advisers get asked by students is “What should I say about why I am interested in a particular organisation in cover letters and application forms?”. Students often say that they find it hard to differentiate between one organisation and  another.

Avoiding bland replies to this question is crucial, yet everyday in the Careers Centre, bland and predictable statements are what we are presented with to check over! Whether an investment bank, law firm, technology start up, hospital trust or secondary school – all organisations are looking for a personalised approach that reflects more than surface level website research.  Without evidencing this, you will probably not get beyond the application stage. So here are some ideas:

  • Evidence knowledge of the organisation’s core values and culture. Show you share their values by perhaps selecting 3 core values and demonstrating how you have shown commitment to these yourself. For example – customer focus, a commitment to consistently delivering high quality work and integrity.  State that sharing their values shows  that you would be a good fit for the organisation.

 

  • Also show an understanding of the organisation’s goals. You could refer to their mission statement, strategic plan or annual report, for example. Then explain why that this forward-looking/dynamic/market-leading environment appeals to you and will be an excellent working environment to develop your skills. Go to City’s library if you are having problems finding these publications.

 

  • Check the news section on the organisation’s website and refer to current concerns/deals/campaigns that they are involved with to show you are fully up to date with current issues in the organisation.

 

  • Google for additional news, that might be hot off the press and not yet on the website.

 

  •  Read the business news every day if you are applying for a business role, human rights sites if you are applying for this area, etc. Look at professional body websites. e.g. Chartered Institute of Marketing,  Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, Chartered Institute of Civil Engineering, etc for news items and issues impacting on the sector that you could comment on.

 

  • Search to see if the the organisation has won any awards. Refer to these and why they matter to you.

 

  • Finally, look at what current graduate trainees, employees and clents say they like about the organisation and again link to why this appeals to you.

 

Good luck with your applications!

 

 

Antonia Clark

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