What is a cover letter?

The aim of your cover letter is to make the reader interested enough to want to read your resume and convince them to contact you for an interview.

It is very common for employers to ask for them as part of the application process for vacant positions.

But don’t fret, writing your cover letter shouldn’t be a daunting process! With a few handy tips, you’ll be well on your way to writing compelling cover letters.


Why do I need a cover letter?

You never know when you might meet a prospective employer or come across a potential job opportunity. Plus, if you’re actively on the job hunt, it will save you time when applying for job vacancies.


Having a well-thought out cover letter means:

  • You can give an employer an idea of the sort of person you are by the way you present yourself on paper
  • You can clearly state why you should be considered for a position, giving information to support this
  • You can highlight the key points of your resume that are the most relevant to each vacancy
  • You can easily tailor your cover letter to each job application
  • If the employer is impressed with your letter they will read your resume with care


Creating an original cover letter

Avoid sending out a generic, run-of-the-mill cover letter. Despite the cover letter being digital, it’s often the first thing recruiters read when viewing candidate profile – even ahead of the resume. Use the cover letter as an opportunity to showcase your personality, qualifications and desire for the job.


5 tips for getting your cover letter just right, no matter what your story

No matter your story, everyone has something to offer a potential employer.


  1. Work out your goals

Taking time to think about the type of work you’re looking for will help shape your cover letter. For example, if you want to work in retail then some of the experience you’ve had to date will help convey why you’re right for a job. If you’re new to the industry, then talk about your commitment to great customer service and your friendly, positive attitude


  1. Keep it simple and to the point

Your cover letter doesn’t have to be long-winded. Start with the basics including your name, why you’re interested in the role and some simple facts about what you’ve done to date that are relevant to the job you are applying for. If you’ve had a career break or you’re new to the workforce, then you still have plenty to offer a prospective employer too.


  1. Address the job suitability criteria

List your relevant experience, accomplishments and skills and be sure to address the job description properly. Go a step further and mention how you will use that knowledge and those skills on the job.


  1. Convince your audience

As soon as you’ve covered the basics, then it’s time to include a compelling sentence or two that helps convince someone why they should hire you. There are all sorts of unique qualities that might help you sell yourself so just choose the one that you think is most relevant to your target listener, for example:

  • An achievement in a previous role
  • Relevant qualifications or training
  • Any passions or interests
  • A reason you’re keen to work
    – in a particular role
    – for a specific company,  or
    – in your chosen industry


  1. Adapt your cover letter for each job you are applying for

Cover letters must be typed and printed, never hand-written. Remember to write a new cover letter for each job you apply for by editing the details before printing. Remember that practice makes perfect so it’s important to take the time to perfect your cover letter.


Key points for writing your letter

  • Apply as quickly as possible when you see a position advertised.
  • Your letter should ideally be one page in length unless you are addressing selection criteria. Up to six paragraphs is enough to keep the reader’s attention.
  • Address the letter to the name of the person stated in the advertisement. If no name is stated ring the company and ask for the name of the Recruitment Officer.
  • Use simple words and keep your sentences short – avoid wordy descriptions and vague statements.
  • Avoid negative sentences such as “I may not have much experience but”.
  • Spend some time working out your opening sentence and try and make it a little different rather than just stating where the job was advertised.
  • Use spell check! Ask someone to proof read your letter for spelling and grammatical errors.
  • At the end of your letter state what you would like to happen next (that is to be invited for an interview).


Things that employers would really like to be told in your letter, but rarely are:

  • Why you would like to work for them?
  • Your knowledge of any of the organisation’s products or services.
  • A clear statement of the type of employment you are applying for e.g. full time, part time, casual etc.
  • Times and dates you are available for an interview.
  • How they can contact you quickly by phone, mobile, fax or email.


Do I have to disclose my disability, illness or injury in my cover letter?

The choice is yours and there are many reasons both to disclose and not to disclose. You don’t have to shy away from the facts that make you the person you are today, or how your life experiences may add to why you’re awesome for the job. But remember, unless it affects your ability to do the job safely, you have no legal obligation to talk to your employer or potential employer about your disability.


Download CoAct’s FREE cover letter template

Use this generic template to customise your application. Download now


Want a great cover letter? You’ve come to the right place.

Need help with your job search? From help with your cover letter, to training and upskilling, get in touch with the friendly team at CoAct today.

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