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What is a Cover Letter?

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is not a job application - it's a short and specific letter that should always accompany any résumé, folio or any other application document that you send to a prospective employer or recruiter.
You might be applying for a specific, advertised job or you might be marketing yourself for possible future work. Either way, your cover letter should aim to:

  1. Introduce you
  2. Highlight your key selling points (skills, experience or achievements)
  3. Say why you want the job and what attracts you to the employer
  4. Encourage the reader to discover more about you by reading your resume
  5. Finish with a 'call to action', e.g. requesting an interview (if it's a specific job) or meeting (to discuss more general work prospects)

The key aim with any cover letter is to make it as personal as possible. This means addressing your letter to a real person (not 'To Whom It May Concern') and to a specific job. Avoid the temptation to send out a generic, 'one-size-fits-all' letter.

This means a bit of extra work. You may need to call an organisation and find out how you need to address your letter. Spend some time on the internet researching a company so that you can make your letter relevant to a specific job or a particular company by mentioning key things about that company.

Show that you know about them, value their service or know about a special project or a noteworthy service they provide. Read their web site, media releases and their Annual Report for future plans they may have.

You need to demonstrate to a potential employer that you understand the job requirements and can do the job. So include the key skills and experiences you have that match the job description.

You also need to show that you are enthusiastic and have a positive attitude towards the role and your potential employer. Without being over the top” your enthusiasm need to shine, for example, in your closing sentence you convey how keen you are to meet to discuss the opportunity in greater depth.

Remember:- cover letters are not passé!

The role of the cover letter is to have the employer read your résumé.

If your résumé does its job well, you will get an interview.

If your interview goes well, you will have a job.

The cover letter is therefore the first formal step towards getting a job!

If you need help with your cover letter please visit our website here likewise if you require a free assessment of your résumé or advice on government selection criteria go to our website. One of our national team of highly qualified and experienced writers will be available to work with you to ensure you have the best chance of winning the interview to kick start or reignite your career.

Kell Ferguson, Principal, Castle Hill and Hornsby Successful Résumés kell@successfulresumes.com.au

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