We asked one of Australia's leading resume writing services for some tips on how to write a cover letter that works.
Here's what they had to say:
Cover letters are important. They can make or break an application. In essence, a good cover letter is one that:
- Makes it clear you meet the job requirements
- Makes it clear you specifically want THIS job
With these goals in mind, here's how to write a successful cover letter in 5 steps:
- Address your letter correctly
Do you have the name of the hirer? If not, can you find it? Addressing people by their name and position title is standard business etiquette. It's something you can do that many others will not.
- Make it clear that you meet job requirements
The easiest way to do this is to reflect the wording of the job advertisement. Don't parrot the advertisement word-for-word, but pick out the essential requirements and make sure it's clear that you meet them.
- Be specific
Rather than saying "I have strong skills in Photoshop", it's much more convincing to say "I have 3 years' experience working with Photoshop as an image retoucher at the Sydney Metropolitan newspaper".
- Don't just focus on yourself
Your cover letter shouldn't be a summary of your resume. Make it clear you meet job requirements, but also include points about what the company is looking for. A company needs to know that you have read their advertisement, understand why they're hiring and are confident you could do well in their team. Include points about the company's brand, their clients, their market - this let's the reader know you've taken the time to get to know what they do, and that you'd be committed to their goals.
- Make it clear that THIS is the job you want
Even though you're applying for the job, you need to go further to make it clear you really want it. This seems obvious, but is missed by many candidates. Is the job short-term? Does it pay less than your current role? Is it in a different city?
Whatever the job and its conditions, you need to give compelling reasons why this is specifically what you're looking for.
If you need help with your job application, you're welcome to get in touch with us here. One of our friendly resume writers will be very happy to help you.
By Edward Grant, Director of Metro Resumes - visit us at www.metroresumes.com.au
By Kate Southam, CareerOne Editor
While it is not as long, a cover letter requires the same attention as preparing a curriculum vitae or resume.
The role of your cover letter is to ensure your resume gets read. Job applications are scanned in seconds by a human eye or a piece of software. In both cases the reader is looking to see if your skills and experience match the criteria detailed in a job ad.
Your first step in writing a cover letter should be to go through the job ad and underline the key words used by the employer/recruiter. As long as you can back up your claims, try to use these words in your cover letter.
A cover letter should not regurgitate your CV. It should zero why you are a good match for the job role in just three or four paragraphs.
It’s also vital that your cover letter is tailored to each job you’re going for. If at all possible, personalise the letter using the relevant manager or recruitment consultant’s name. Place the name of recipient, their title, company name and address in the left hand corner.
Employers/recruiters hate to receive a formula letter – particularly when the applicant has forgotten to change the name from the last employer they applied to so triple check these details.
Use simple language and the same font and style as your resume. The experts recommend using a font that is easy to read such as 11 point Arial as well as A4 white paper for hard copies of your cover letter.
Include a date, your name and contact details so your cover letter and resume can be reunited if they get separated in the potential employer's office.
The opening paragraph should state the job you are going for and the fact you are confident you are suited to the role. For example, “I was interested to see your advertisement seeking a new customer service consultant as I believe my skills and experience are a good fit for the role.”
Paragraph two should tell the reader why he or she should be interested in you. It might read something like, “Please find a copy of my resume attached but of particular relevance is my x years experience in x and my qualifications in A,B,C.”
A third paragraph could be used to highlight a career achievement or two of particular relevance to the job. The last paragraph should bring the letter to a polite close. For example, “I hope to have an opportunity to meet with you in person to discuss how I could contribute to your team. Yours sincerely.”
Stress what you can do for the potential employer, not why their company would be good for your career.
It's vital that you check the letter for mistakes. Ask a friend or family member to proof read the letter before you email or post it. Sign hard copies.
You will also find sample cover letters in the Resume and Letters section of Career Advice.
Article from CareerOne.com.au