What you need to know before writing a cover letter

Your cover letter is usually the first point of contact you’ll have with a prospective employer, so it's crucial to make a good impression!

A cover letter accompanies your CV with your job application, and should be written with the intention of grabbing the attention of the hiring team and compelling them to add you to their shortlist.

A cover letter is your opportunity to:

  • Introduce yourself, and personalise your introduction in a way that aligns with the company’s values, culture, and requirements for the role
  • Summarise your relevant experience and skills
  • Explain why you’re interested in the position
  • Highlight the reasons you’d be an asset to the organization
  • Request to meet with your prospective employer for an interview

Whether you’re new to writing cover letters, or you just want to up the ante, read on for our top tips for a killer cover letter...

How to write a cover letter

Keeping it brief makes a great first impression

People often make the mistake of cramming too much information into their cover letters, or opening with a snooze-worthy “I am writing to apply…” intro, cut and pasted from the web.

By leading with a strong, personalised introduction and keeping your content succinct, your cover letter will demonstrate confidence, discipline, and the ability to prioritise and communicate efficiently.

Goal: Get straight to the point with a strong introduction that puts your point of difference and best qualities front and centre. Ensure your cover letter is no more than one page in length at a standard font size.

Tailor, customise, personalise

If you’re applying for multiple jobs, it may be tempting to write one standard cover letter and just change the name of the company for each application you send out. Beware of this approach, as human resources teams can spot these cut-and-paste jobs from a mile off.

Try and tailor your cover letter as much as possible to the specific needs and requirements of the role you’re applying for by:

  • Mirroring the language and keywords used in the job description.
  • Demonstrating some knowledge of the organisation.
  • Ensuring the skills and accomplishments mentioned are highly relevant to the position.

It may take a little longer, but this extra detail will show you’ve taken your application seriously and demonstrate why you’re a good fit for the role.

Goal: Do you research on the company, re-read the job description carefully, and customise your letter with that specific role and organisation in mind.

Include a call to action

Marketing experts know that a call to action is the most important part of closing a sale – that’s why every page of an online store includes a big, bold ‘Buy Now’ button.

Regardless of the industry you’re working in, your cover letter is essentially an opportunity to sell yourself as the ideal candidate – so it’s important to include your own call to action, such as a request for an interview.

Many applicants fail to request an interview at the end of their cover letter thinking it will be implied, so including one in yours should catch the recruiter’s attention and showcase your confidence and initiative (both sought-after qualities).

Goal: Be sure to ask for an interview at the end of your application letter. It may be as simple as;

“I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you for an interview, and look forward to speaking with you further about this role at your earliest convenience.”

Bonus Tip: Let your education help you stand out from the crowd. Check out our tips for highlighting your study achievements in your cover letter.