How to Write a Cover Letter

Cover Letter Tips

Your cover letter is an important part of applying for jobs.

A cover letter can make or break your chance of getting to the next stage. You can have an amazing CV and a killer personality, but if your cover letter is lacking, it can really affect your overall outcome.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter should be a concise summary of you and why you’d be perfect for the job you’re applying for. It’s normally sent in addition to your CV.

Your cover letter should:
  • introduce you
  • mention the job you’re applying for
  • be relevant to the job you’re applying for (i.e. your skills and experience should match the skills and experience required by the job
  • make them want to read your CV
  • be no longer than one page
Personally, I like to think a cover letter is like a story. It has a beginning, middle and an end. All three parts are vital and each should be written with passion. There is nothing worse than reading something that isn’t unique or delves into the mindset of the applicant. My biggest tip, tell it from the heart. When I’m reading a cover letter, I don’t want to know what skills your best friend has, or what your Nan thinks your key qualities are. What do you think are your assets to a company? Why do you think someone should employee you over another applicant? These are questions your cover letter should be answering. I’ll be going through a typical format of a cover letter below. When reading this, have a copy of a cover letter you’ve already written and see if you can tick each of the boxes I will be talking about.

How to write a good cover letter

Anyone can write a cover letter, but you want to show the company not only that your skills and experience are what they’re looking for but also that you’ve done your homework. Have a standard cover letter but adjust it for each job you apply for.

For example…
1. Find out the name of the person you’re sending the cover letter to
This is often on the job application, but if not then look on the company website or call them and ask. Wherever possible you should avoid using “To whom it may concern”

2. Find out the job description
If the job advert did not go into much depth about what the position actually entails then see if the job description is listed on their website. Often the company’s own website will have a longer, more detailed job description on their positions vacant page than they included on a job search website. Again you could always call the company and ask them specific questions about the position.
It’s important to know exactly what you’re applying for so that you can include required skills and experience in your cover letter and CV.

3. Don’t just copy sentences out of your CV
Your cover letter is a summary of you which should encourage them to read your CV to find out more about you. Therefore make sure that your cover letter isn’t just a few copy and pasted sentences from your CV.

By using the correct persons name and knowing about the company and the position you’re applying, they know you’ve put a little effort into writing your cover letter. This makes it seem like you’re more interested in working for them rather than just applying for numerous jobs with the same standard cover letter and CV.

Information to include

1. Your name and contact details.
Sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many job applications I’ve received with no way of contacting the applicant.
You don’t have to include your home address (although sometimes it can be advantageous to do this if you live fairly close to where you’d be working), but you should include your first and last name, a phone number and your email address. Just make sure your email address is suitable!

2. Their name and contact details
Always try to include the name of the person you’re writing to and their position or the name of their company. Call them if needs be to find this information out. You can use “To Whom It May Concern” as a last resort.

3. The Job Title you’re applying for
The HR department may be the people first opening your cover letter and there may be several positions they’re advertising. Including the position you’re applying for is therefore essential.

4. A short summary of skills and experience relevant to the position
You can use a bullet point list but a short paragraph that explains how your skills and experiences match those in the position they’re trying to fill is very important to include.

5. An invitation to contact you
See the cover letter format below for how to do this as a way to end your cover letter.

Cover Letter Format

The cover letter format is just as important as the content. On the top right corner you should write your full name and contact details. Underneath that, on the left hand side you need to put the date and the employers details.

Your Name
Street name and number
Suburb, STATE, Postcode
Phone Number
email address
[Date – dd/mm/yyyy]

Employer contact name
Employer contact position title (e.g. HR Manager)
Employer company name
Employer address street name and number
Employer suburb, STATE, postcode

Where possible always use the name of person you are directing the letter to. If unknown, you can write ‘To whom it may concern’. The first paragraph written is the introductory paragraph. This is where you introduce yourself, identify which job you are applying for and how you heard about the available position.  An example of this is;

Dear Mr / Mrs ……….

Re: name of role advertised (e.g. Customer Service Assistant)

Please accept this letter as an application for the position of (name of role)  at (company name) as advertised on (enter advertiser name e.g. Seek.com.au).

The second paragraph is in reference to why you think you are a good candidate for the role you are applying for. Remember to re-frame from using phrases like ‘I think I am…’ or ‘I believe….’You want to be using ‘power’ words such as; ‘I am’, ‘I have’ and ‘My strengths are’. If you don’t truly believe you are a good candidate, why should an employer?  Success lies with you first.  When deciding what to write, have the job description in front of you and pick a couple criteria points to expand on. An example of this is;

I am a good candidate for this role as I have a ‘can do’ attitude and the ability to push myself out of my comfort zone. I have an outgoing personality with the added benefit of being able to adapt to a wide range of situations enabling me to relate to different personality types. I’ve always enjoyed working in customer service and being able to assist customers. Working in your store will enable me to continue to do this whilst learning new skills.

The third paragraph is about your relevant previous experience, commenting on any specific skills you possess. Remember to use your ‘power’ words. My next tip is avoid using words with negative connotations such as, ‘despite’

In my previous job I assistant manager and was the first point of contact for any training that needed to be conducted.  I enjoyed having the opportunity to spend time with each staff member, ensuring they were trained up to my standard but also having the time to get to know them more.

In the final paragraph you want to write a summary sentence and invite them to contact you. Finishing with a ‘power’ sentence.

I am a hardworking and enthusiastic employee who would love the opportunity to advance my career with your company. Please find my resume attached, I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

[sign here]Your Name

Final Tips
  • Always check your Cover Letter and CV for typos
  • Don’t copy and paste information from your CV
  • Do your homework before writing it!
If you follow this simple structure you will be sure to impress potential employers!