Writing a Great Cover Letter
There is always debate regarding whether to send a cover letter
or not to send a cover letter, especially now, in the age of
electronic job applications.
You should think of the cover letter as something specific
for the role, especially when your resume is often generic
(that is not created specifically for the role). The purpose
of the cover letter is to act as an introduction, a scene setter,
to your resume.
It lets the reader know what role you are applying for, it
gives them a high level insight into your resume and your skills,
but is not your resume re-worded!
The key to a good cover letter is that it entices the reader
to review your resume. It helps them know what role you are
applying for, where you saw it advertised, why you are interested,
briefly how you meet their key criteria (if they have stated
them in the advertisement).
If you have your resume professionally written it often pays
to have your cover letter created also. Having a well-written
cover letter "template" that you can amend for specific
roles will save you time and get you more interviews.
However if you are writing a cover letter yourself here are
brief answers to "often asked questions" regarding
How long should it be?
For most cover letters keep it to a single A4 page of well
space text. The cover letter is about enticing them to read
your resume, not to send them to sleep before getting to your
What font should I use?
For most cover letters I would suggest you use the same font
as your resume. It can be off putting, visually, to move from
a cover letter in one font and style to a resume in a completely
What style and format should I use?
Keep your cover letter simple, professionally and easy to
read. Do not use jargon or complex language.
Most of all though - remember to proof read your cover letter,
as you would with your resume.
Too often I see a good resume spoiled by a badly worded (spelling
and syntax) cover letter. Even if you have a brilliant resume
the reader could be discouraged from reading it because you
make some simple mistakes in the cover letter.
What are the critical things to include?
There are a number of key items that any cover letter must
Your contact details (ie address, phone number,
Details of the person/company you are sending
the letter to;
The job reference number and/or position title,
Reason you are applying for the role.
What structure should I use?
There is no specific template that I would suggest for a cover
letter. This is dependent upon the role and the information
requested in the application. However a typical cover letter
Introductory paragraph: confirming the role you
are applying for (including relevant reference or position
Second Paragraph: Brief description of your current
job or the degree you are undertaking - to set the scene,
Third paragraph: Summarise why you are the person
for the role
Main body of the letter: Include brief statements
for the each of the key criteria in the advert (referring as
required to your resume),
Closing paragraph: Confirming your availability
for interview and how you can be contacted.
Finally make sure you have your name at the end of the letter,
and indicate what has been attached.
How to open and close?
If possible address the person by name and remember to use
appropriate opening and closing syntax. If addressing by name
(Dear Ms Smith) close using "Yours sincerely".
If there is no name given then use "Dear Sir or Madam" and
close with "Your faithfully".
These hints and tips will help you write a cover letter that
will get your resume read.
Also see Writing
a Great Resume.
Written by Dr Kim Wigglesworth, Prototype Career Services.