How to Write a Cover Letter

How to Write a Cover
A cover letter is a formal introduction to your job
application and plays a key role in your initial
communication with a prospective employer. It
outlines why you have sent the application and
highlights your strengths in relation to meeting the
needs of the employer.
It is important to make a good first impression, so
take the time to analyse the job advertisement (if
applying for an available position) and research the
relevant organisation / industry in order to tailor
your cover letter accordingly.
Emailed Applications
When applying for positions electronically it is
preferable to send your cover letter and resume as
a single attachment (rather than copy your cover
letter into the body of the email or attach your
resume and cover letter as two separate
documents). You still need to remain formal in your
email text, as a good application can be ignored if
the email is written like a text message with
abbreviations etc. or left blank!
Types of Cover Letters
Solicited – used when applying for job vacancies
(available jobs that have been advertised).
Unsolicited – used when cold canvassing
employers for possible employment/placement
opportunities (no advertised job vacancy exists).
Use professional business format (left justified).
Ensure there are no spelling and grammatical
Check the date is accurate.
Keep the letter to one page in length or to the
length specified in the advertisement (often it can
be longer when specific Selection Criteria / Work
Related Requirements need to be addressed
within the letter). Read all instructions carefully!
Use a standard font type/size that is easy to read.
Attempt to get the person's name and title of
whom you are writing to (may require some
Sign the letter "Yours sincerely" if you have the
name and "Yours faithfully" if you have the title
Clearly identify the position you are applying for.
Don’t begin every paragraph with “I” and
consider other creative ways to change the
Research the organisation – focus on their
services, values and new initiatives/projects
then state how you match the employers needs.
Be sure to address the skills and experience
outlined in the advertisement but don’t make any
unsupported statements about yourself (i.e.
provide evidence). NOTE: If you are required to
address specific Selection Criteria / Work
Related Requirements within the cover letter,
see “How to Address Selection Criteria”
resource document for further details.
If it is an unsolicited cover letter (canvassing
for possible employment), list the skills and
experience which you think relate to the
company or organisation.
A tailored cover letter MUST be prepared with
every job application – do not use a standard
Your Postal Address
Date (in full)
Person to whom letter is addressed (Full, Name)
Job title
Address, State and Postcode
Dear Mr/ Ms/Dr/Prof.
Re: Position title and quote reference number if there is one (in bold)
Paragraph 1: Why are you writing? How did you find out about the position or if an unsolicited letter,
what kind of position you are seeking and why.
Paragraph 2: Why are you interested in this position or the particular organisation? What attracts you
to the job? Refer to your knowledge of what the organisation does/it’s values/special projects and how
this appeals to you.
Paragraph 3: How do you match the requirements of the job with regard to skills, education, personal
qualities/attributes or experience? Highlight any relevant successes. Try not to make any
unsubstantiated claims i.e. provide concrete evidence/examples where you can. NOTE: You may be
required to address specific Selection Criteria/Work Related Requirements in this section. List
each one separately and see “How to Address Selection Criteria” document for further details.
Paragraph 4: Mention you would be grateful for the opportunity to discuss your application further.
Include your contact number/email address.
Close with “Yours sincerely” (or” Yours faithfully” if you cannot find a name to address the letter to and
resorted to “Dear Sir/Madam”)
Your name
Example 1. Solicited: a cover letter in response to an advertised position
Peter Oville
100 Murdoch Drive
Tel: 0000 000 000 E: [email protected]
1 March 20??
Mr Theodore Gumbrill
WA Water Treatment Manager
WA Water Corporation
PO Box 290
Dear Mr Gumbrill
RE: Water Corporation Graduate Program (Position No. 568494)
I am a final year Bachelor of Science student majoring in Mineral Science and Chemistry keen on
applying for your Graduate Program as advertised on the W.A. Government electronic jobs board –
The opportunity to participate in your professional development program appeals to me greatly in terms
of the practical experience and on-site project work opportunities offered by an international leader in
water management. The on-going mentoring and support from well regarded professionals in the field is
also invaluable.
Regarding my relevant university studies, I have maintained a Distinction grade average to date with
strengths in scientific research, team project work and report writing. Throughout my studies I secured a
10 week placement within the mining industry, undertaking practical laboratory work to complement my
theoretical skill development. I also financially supported my studies by buying and selling electronic
equipment which I built and/or modified. Accordingly, I developed excellent skills in negotiating, liaising
with the public and industry personnel.
I am genuinely interested in the Water Corporation Graduate Program and look forward to the
opportunity to discuss my application further and can be contacted on mob:0589 7867 976 or email:
[email protected]
Yours sincerely
Peter Oville
Sandra Student
14 Murdoch Mews
Murdoch WA 6150
Tel: 0000 000 000 E: [email protected]
Ms Sandrine Hubert (always get a name – call to get it if you have to)
Acme Management Consultants
PO Box 9999
Perth WA 6000
Dear Ms Hulbert (salutation should just be the surname)
1. The reason for your letter and your present circumstances
I am writing to explore (e.g. employment opportunities) ____ OR I write to express interest in ____ with
____ (company) OR I am writing about the possibility of ___ _ OR I heard recently that ______ and write
now to _____ OR I am writing to you having been referred by ? from ? who suggested you might be
recruiting ____. At present ____ (details of what you are doing, e.g. final-year/graduate/ postgraduate).
2. Indicate your interest in “this” organisation and “support” your interest
I would be particularly interested in obtaining a position with ___ OR I was interested to read that you
____ OR I strongly believe in the importance of (your approach to )____OR I first became aware of
(company’s activities) ___ (statements supporting your genuine interest in the organisation)____.
3. Match what you have read they require/think they might want with what you can offer (plus
outline any other skills)
I have read (your annual report/website) and note your interest in graduates who ___ OR You
consistently indicated an interest in (e.g. kinds of grads, from paper/online adverts) ____ OR I believe I
am well suited to a position requiring _____ (refer to stated attributes, skills etc they need or you think
they would value). You will note my results ____ OR As indicated in my resumé, I _____ (sentence
supporting how you claim to be able to meet their major requirements)_____.
4. Closing remarks (contact details/when you will phone to try for face-to-face discussion. Final
expression of interest)
I look forward to discussing further my interest in ___ (graduate position/kind of role)____ with ____
(name of organisation) ____. I will phone you ____ (when?) ___ about the possibility of (statements
indicating your wish to make further contact)_____. I am strongly drawn to ____ (final statement
indicating interest)_______.
Thank you for considering my application.
Yours sincerely
Sarah Student
Example 2. Unsolicited: seeking a possible opportunity
74 Brokerage Road
29 April 20??
Mr Howard Black
Investment Manager
White, Brown and Black Investment Advisers
24 Strathmore Circus
Dear Mr Black
I recently acquired a copy of your Annual Report as a result of my interest in pursuing a career within
the financial industry.
Details of your operations and moves to expand your services to include the South East Asian market
has prompted me to formally apply for a position which may arise within your organisation in the near
Regarding my relevant qualifications, I completed a degree in Commerce, majoring in Banking and
Finance at Murdoch University earlier this year. At Murdoch, I had the opportunity to undertake units in
South East Asian studies, focussing on cultural issues and economic development in that region.
Accordingly, I worked on individual and group projects which involved the practical components of
teamwork, liaising with industry representatives and compiling written reports. Whilst at University, I also
became a student member of IBN (Intervarsity Business Network) and attended a range of seminars and
workshops on business networking as well as assisting student organisers with student recruitment and
Network promotions. Further details of my university activities and relevant skills are outlined in the
enclosed resumé.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my application and I look forward to an opportunity to
discuss my suitability for possible employment with your consultancy firm in more detail. I hope to
follow up in the next fortnight with regard to this correspondence.
Yours sincerely
Mary Messenger