Jobseeker Cover Letter Tips

Your CV/Resume should be easy to read and understood by anyone at any level in a short time.  However, your CV/Resume cannot do the job alone – it needs a good covering letter to ensure it is truly effective in getting you to the interview stage. Having a good covering letter will significantly increase your chances of getting an interview. You may have the best CV/Resume, but if it's hidden by a poorly-targeted and/or a poorly worded covering letter the prospect of it being read are minimal.

  • Remember to keep it brief and all on one page!
  • It is vital that you customise your covering letter. Employers may have hundreds of applications to sift through, so make sure yours 'shouts out' at them that you have the skill and ability to do the job.
  • Your covering letter is an opportunity to tell them who you are and why you are suited to the position.
  • If the job advert includes a telephone number, take the opportunity to call and find out more. This will enable you to get a better idea of what they are looking for, while giving you the opportunity to personalise your covering letter by referring to the telephone conversation. 

Your letter should ideally consist of three paragraphs: 

First paragraph:

state the reason for your application. For example, which job you are applying for (including the job title), where you saw it advertised and the date. With a speculative letter, you need to explain how you found out about them, for example, a recent article you may have read about them or their web site. 

Second paragraph:

is the opportunity to sell yourself by linking your strengths and skills to the job. Concentrate on mirroring the requirements of the job.  For example, if they say they are looking for someone with good researching skills, write an example of research experience you may have picked up in your career.

Third paragraph:

you should request an interview or meeting. You may want to tell them you will call them next week to discuss it further. Alternatively, you could say that you would welcome the opportunity to discuss how you might be of value to the recruiting company. 

As with your CV/Resume, never lie or exaggerate. The last thing you want is to spend your whole interview trying to dig your way out of a hole you've created by being liberal with the truth! 

  • Your covering letter should reflect you as a person, so be yourself. If you are not flamboyant don't write a letter as if you are and vice versa! After all, you don't want to write a letter that you can't live up to. If you’re trying to be someone else on paper is this really the right job for you? 
  • If the advert asks for an indication of your current salary then provide it in the letter as a range, ie. $50K - $60K.  This covers the request and allows both parties some flexibility and room for negotiation! 
  • Address your letter to a specific, named individual and sign it 'Yours sincerely'. Personalising your cover letter goes a long way. ('Yours faithfully' is the correct form if you have to use a generic form of address, like Dear Sir or Madam.) 
  • Present your letter in typed format, preferably on white A4 paper. If this is not possible, hand-write neatly.