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When your job application is in the hands of a potential employer you want your cover letter to fit in and stand out.
You want it to fit in because it has the required information and it’s formatted in a way that employers expect. And you want it to stand out because you’ve demonstrated clearly that you’re someone worth interviewing.
Using a cover letter template can be a great way to remember what’s necessary and what’s not, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a simple matter of cut and paste.
Sandy Babiolakis, Senior Career Consultant with DeakinTalent, says we shouldn’t underestimate the significance of cover letters. ‘A cover letter is used to persuade recruiters that you are a suitable candidate and should progress to the next stage of selection,’ she explains. ‘It complements your resume by helping an employer interpret your background by going into more detail and giving specific examples that show why you are a good fit for the role.’
So what should you include when writing a cover letter for a job application?
It goes without saying that the employer needs to know how to contact you. But what’s the best way to ensure that you are contactable? In addition to your name and address, provide an email address that you check regularly and make sure that your email address is professional: partycat@Iliketoparty.com may not go down too well.
Including the right amount of information in your cover letter is a bit of an art. Don’t go into personal territory such as your date of birth, marital status, religion or nationality. These things don’t affect your ability to do the job.
Explain why you are writing and where you heard about the position. Keep your language positive and professional but not overly formal and reference the full correct name of both the position and the organisation. Heard about the job from someone who works for the company? You might want to mention them here but be sure to ask their permission first. You can also briefly outline why you are interested in the role.
When you’re first learning how to write a cover letter, it can be tempting to simply replicate information that is in your resume. Instead remember it’s an opportunity to expand on this and provide a little more context.
The body of the letter is where you outline about why you’re suitable for the role. Babiolakis says you don’t need to disclose every single job and achievement to date. ‘Only include what’s relevant to the role,’ she explains. ‘Highlight two or three relevant qualifications, personal skills, technical skills, experiences or achievements to show what you will bring to the position and organisation.’ These examples can come from paid employment, internships, volunteer work or extra-curricular activities.
Some people feel the need to highlight gaps or weaknesses, including statements like ‘Despite my lack of experience with…’ or ‘While I only have skills related to…’ Babiolakis recommends that you avoid doing this. Instead, focus on the skills and strengths that you do have and explain how they will be valuable for the role.
Be sure to demonstrate that you have researched the organisation and have some knowledge of their brand, products and values. Describe what has attracted you to the organisation. Be specific. Convey enthusiasm for the industry, and show an interest in and understanding of their work.
Before ending the letter, it’s important to reiterate how you could be of value to the organisation. Express interest in an interview and keep your sign off professional: either ‘Yours sincerely’ or ‘Kind regards’ works well.
Rest assured, once you know how to write a cover letter it becomes second nature. It’s worth taking the time to get it right. Your cover letter is an important opportunity to capture the attention of your future employer.
'[A cover letter] complements your resume by helping an employer interpret your background by going into more detail and giving specific examples that show why you are a good fit for the role.'
Graduate Employment Division, Deakin University
Be sure to include:
Do NOT include photo, date of birth, marital status, religion, nationality or the words ‘cover letter’.
You might also consider including a brief reason why you are interested in the role.
Body (1-3 paragraphs)
Focus more on what you can offer, rather than what you will gain, from the job.
Closing and sign-off
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