What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is usually the first point of contact a candidate has with a prospective employer for a job application. It is usually sent accompanying a resume or CV as a way of introduction. A well-written cover letter should summarise and condense the most recent and relevant points in your resume and how your skills and experience relate to the role you are applying for. It should also illustrate your written communication skills.

What to include in your cover letter

  1. Personal details. Begin with your personal details, including your full name, phone number and email address.
  2. Opening your cover letter. Open your cover letter with a brief introduction of yourself and your purpose for writing. If responding to a job advertisement, include any references such as the position title or job number, or state how you found the job ad. If you’re “cold contacting” an organisation of interest, mention the type of job you’d be hoping to land there.
  3. Highlight your skills, experience and qualifications. If they are aligned with the role, mention your career goals. Always tailor your cover letter to only include the attributes that would be beneficial to the role you’re applying for. Use real life examples to discuss a couple of your most recent and relevant roles and achievements, and how these experiences would offer value to the role you’re applying for. Demonstrate that you have understood the job description and researched the company in this section.
  4. Additional selling points: Discuss any other selling points such as volunteer work, positive personality traits or strengths that would be relevant to the role. These may include your interpersonal skills, ability to take initiative or technological savvy.
  5. Closing your cover letter: Conclude the cover letter by referring to your resume or any other attachment. Express your desire for an interview, or for cold contact cover letters, mention when you plan on making a follow up call. Close the letter with a positive note of appreciation for the employer’s time. 

What to exclude in your cover letter

Always tailor your cover letter to only include the attributes that would be beneficial to the role you're applying for.
  • Salary expectations or previous salaries earned. This information should be included in your SEEK profile
  • Generic content that isn’t relevant to the particular role
  • Any cliché phrases that will make your cover letter blend in with others

How long should a cover letter be?

A cover letter should be no more than one page. In this case, less is best.

Format and style of a cover letter

  • Match the font and type size to your resume’s style
  • Write in an enthusiastic and polite tone of voice, and inject your personality into it
  • Ensure all your spelling and grammar is 100% correct
  • Include paragraphs and spacing to enable optimal legibility

For more tips on how to improve your cover letter check out Writing cover letters.