What is a cover letter?
- An essential document that introduces you to potential employers and highlights your suitability for the role under application.
- It should be one A4 page in length and laid out in professional letter format
- In many cases the cover letter is just as important as your resume. Some employers will not look at a resume if it is not accompanied by a cover letter.
More information on cover letters:
- Dos and Don'ts of cover letter writing
- Why send a cover letter?
- A professional cover letter...
- Sending a cover letter
- An appropriate cover letter format includes...
An effective cover letter links the skills and experience on your resume to the job you're applying for and the organisation you're applying to. A strong link increases your chances of an interview.
Some recruiters and employers claim that a well written cover letter is just as important as your resume in making a positive first impression.
In order to take advantage of this valuable opportunity to market your skills and experience, make sure you tailor your cover letter to the specific requirements of the job and organisation. The primary emphasis should be on what you could contribute to the organisation, rather than on what you expect from the organisation.
Refer to the selection criteria mentioned in the advertisement, duty statement or job description to outline your skills and experience, using the language of your particular profession to identify you with that occupation.
Although each cover letter you write will have a certain amount of repeated information, avoid writing 'form letters' where only the name and address of the organisation and contact person changes. If you don't make an effort with your letter, it may be interpreted that you wouldn't make an effort in the role; and you could miss out on an interview as a result.
It is more effective to send fewer, well researched and tailored letters to targeted employers than to spend time and money sending multiple letters stating, 'Dear Sir/Madam, I am interested in a job with your organisation.'
If your letter is for a Local, State or Federal Public Service application, see our web page on Public Service Jobs. For jobs requiring you to address selection criteria, please refer to the web page and handout on Selection Criteria.
- Is typed with neat, consistent formatting and printed on one page of plain, white A4 paper. If you leave wide margins (2-3 cm each) it will be easier for the reader to write notes. Never send your first draft and if you can, ask someone else to check your letter for errors or omissions before you send it. It's important to keep a copy of any letter you send to reread before an interview.
- Is addressed to a specific person. This means that you may have to phone the organisation and ask reception for the name and title of the addressee. Use ‘Dear Sir/Madam' only if you're unable to find out the addressee's name.
- Reflects your personality and your enthusiasm for the role for which you're applying. On the whole, organisations like to employ people who enjoy their roles and will assume additional responsibilities to enhance their skills and the reputation of the organisation.
If you're mailing your letter, send it with your resume in an A4 envelope (without folding or binding it, unless you've been asked specifically to do so).
If, however, you're e-mailing your letter, make sure you send it as an attachment. If a letter document is pasted into the body of an e-mail the formatting can be compromised, ruining the good first impression you wish to make.
View the handout on Job Applications for more information.
- Your name and address
- Your phone number/s and e-mail address
- The title and name of addressee (spelt correctly)
- The addressee's position title
- The organisation's address
- The date
- A greeting e.g. “Dear Ms Jones”, NOT “Dear Annie”
Application for position of xxx, Reference Number (if applicable)