Cover Letter

How to Write a Cover Letter

Purpose

A cover letter is the first piece of information about yourself that your potential employer will read. The main function of a cover letter is to highlight the position you are applying and the skills you possess. The cover letter has to be tailored towards to specific jobs you are applying to. A cover letter provides an opportunity to introduce yourself, highlight the key points from your resume, and be considered for a job interview. Your cover letter should:

Formatting & Style

Remember, your cover letter may be one of tens or hundreds the employer may receive, so it’s important that you format it in a standard business style, so that it’s presented simply and concisely, and is easy to read. Meeting these standards should involve these features:

  • 1 A4 page, typed using a simple 11 -12 point font (e.g. Calibri Times New Roman, Arial)
  • Plenty of white space (wide margins)
  • Spell-checked and grammar-checked
  • Sentences are well-constructed and not ‘padded out’
  • The tone is positive and straightforward
  • Without slang, SMS abbreviations or casual terms

Content

The content should reflect your written communication skills, your level of interest in the position, your knowledge of the organisation, and the relevance of your skills to the selection criteria of the particular job in question. These key selling points should be consistent with the details contained within your resume, and communicated by a series of well-structured paragraphs. The content should also reflect your skills in synthesizing evidence drawn from different sources and constructing consistent and well-supported arguments.

The content should include:

  • Your address and contact details, the recipient’s address
  • Today’s date
  • A formal greeting to the relevant contact person
  • The purpose of the letter, including details of the position (position title, reference number)
  • Evidence of your interest in the position and the field
  • Evidence of your research into the organisation

The content should not include:

  • A simple list of your skills without any supporting evidence of demonstrated skills
  • Sentences or phrases plagiarised directly off the organisation’s website

Typical Structure of a Cover Letter

Your Name
Your Address
Suburb l State l Postcode
Your Telephone l Mobile
Email address

Date

Name of Hiring Manager
Title (HR Manager etc.)
Name of the firm
Address
Suburb l State l Postcode
Dear Mr...Ms... Or if name unknown, Sir/Madam

APPLICATION FOR XXX POSITION

First Paragraph - The Fundamentals

What’s the purpose of this letter?

Introduce yourself & explain why you are writing. If responding to   a job advertisement, include the position title, and any reference number if   applicable.

If you’re canvassing for potential employment, introduce yourself   & your current career circumstances as concisely as possible, including   any specialised professional interests and abilities.

Paragraphs 2, 3, 4/5 Why do you want to work for this employer, and why should they want you? – A summary of your relevant study, skills and experience.

It is essential that you demonstrate within these paragraphs the   ability to gather the most relevant information to state your ‘claim’ as a   suitable candidate. Information that you should briefly cover includes your   current or completed course, the planned finishing date, your major,   specialisation or special interest, and any outstanding academic results.

Highlight the skills, expertise, qualities and employment experience   you have included in your resume that you believe are most relevant to the   requirements of the position. Make sure that you can demonstrate how you meet   the selection criteria, and how it directly relates to both the current and   future needs of the employer.

Include other factors that point to your possession of key general   skills (skills such as communication, teamwork, initiative, and self-management)   through your experiences in voluntary or community activities, clubs and   societies etc.

Closing Paragraph - What do you want to happen next?

Confirm that you have included your resume and any other documents   requested. Finish on a positive note, thanking the employer for their time,   & expressing interest in attending an interview.

Yours sincerely (if you have addressed them by their name) or
Yours faithfully (if you have addressed them by their title)
(Place your signature here)
Your Name