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Job Search Series: How to Write a Cover Letter

The fifth in our Job Search Series will answer some common questions we receive about cover letters. We have included an easy to follow step-by-step guide to writing one plus a list of handy tips.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a single-page letter in which you introduce yourself to an employer. Think of it as a “hello” on paper.

Unlike a resume, which is an objective overview of your qualifications, a cover letter gives you the opportunity to show your personality. It’s your chance to explain in your own words, why you are the best person for the job, why you are enthusiastic about the role and what value you can add to the organisation.

When do you need to include a cover letter?

If a job advertisement asks you to include a cover letter, it is important that you write one. If you do not include a cover letter when asked, your application may not be reviewed by the employer. This will give your application every opportunity to progress. You should also include a cover letter as a way of introduction if you are applying directly to a person and know their name, or if someone has referred you for a position.

A step-by-step guide to writing a cover letter

Writing a cover letter isn’t always easy. Below is a step by step, easy to follow guide.

1: Add your name, email address and phone number at the top of the page. You may also include your mailing address, LinkedIn profile or portfolio link if it will support your application.

[Your phone number]
[Your email address]
[Your mailing address / LinkedIn profile /portfolio (optional)]

2:  Add the name and position of the person who is advertising the job and the company details. This will help get their attention. If you can’t find a name, via the ad, business website or social media, just use the business name instead.

[Name of person advertising the job]
[Position of person advertising the job]
[Business name]
[Street number and name]
[Suburb] [State] [Postcode]

3: Add a personalised greeting. If you can’t find a relevant name, it is acceptable to use ‘Dear [Business name] Team.’

Dear [First name of person advertising the job],

4: Add your opening paragraph. In the first paragraph, say what job you are applying for and how you found it. Add basic information about yourself like key skills and qualifications. Show that your goals match the business goals. Say something you admire about the company or its work.

5: Add your body paragraph/s. Say why the business should hire you. Look at the job description, and think about two or three of your strongest skills that are the best match for the job. Show how your work history makes you are suited to the job.

If you have a gap in your work history because you didn’t have a job or were sick or were caring for someone, say why and what you learned from the experience. The business will notice the gap so it’s better to say why.

6: Add your closing paragraph Your cover letter should finish by asking the employer to read your resume. It should also ask them to contact you about an interview. You can mention whether you prefer to be contacted by phone or email here as well.

  1. 7. Sign off

[Kind regards],
[Your name]

Handy hints

Remember, your cover letter is a great way to show why you are a good fit for the job.

  • Show off your skills and your enthusiasm for the job.
  • Explain any gaps in your work history.
  • If you are applying online, you can either attach the cover letter separately, or send the cover letter in the body of an email, or even paste it into the response box of the application.
  • Make sure you read over your cover letter before an interview. The person interviewing you might ask you to tell them more about what you have written. You should be able to answer their questions quickly and confidently.
  • Your email address should create a professional impression. If you don’t have a professional email address, you can make one with a free email provider. Make it simple – something that includes your first name and your last name is a good way to go.
  • Make sure you use a spell check before sending.

Example Cover Letters

If you would like to view some completed cover letter examples, there are many available online. The links below are a good place to start:

Still need help?

Our staff are more than happy to help you match your cover letter (and resume) to the job you are applying for. We are only a phone call or email away.