A cover letter should complement your CV, but not duplicate it. Use your letter to add context to your application – it gives you the opportunity to explain to an employer why you’re applying and how you’re a match to their requirements. Your letter should be both as unique as you are and tailored to each opportunity.
Ask yourself 3 questions: Why this role? Why this organisation? Why me?
Generally, one page will be sufficient. However, if the job requirements are quite extensive, then aim for 1-2 pages. Pay attention to details such as grammar, spelling, and presentation. Use simple fonts such as Arial or Calibri and black font colour only. Where possible, address the letter to a specific person. Proactive online research – or taking the initiative to call and enquire – means the letter is seen by the right hiring manager.
Employers are mostly checking that you are:
motivated – tell them why you’re applying for this role and this organisation
qualified – showcase relevant skills or experience that you’ve identified from the job information
compatible – that you are a good fit for their organisation and/or share their values priorities.
A professional-looking letter will demonstrate that you are a serious applicant.
Closely follow the employer’s instructions – you might be asked to paste the content of your cover letter into an online form, rather than attach it as a separate letter.
When a contact asks you for your CV via email, you could take the opportunity to highlight a few relevant points in the body of your email, instead of writing a separate full cover letter. But keep it concise where possible!
If you’re starting from scratch, check out our template. This can serve as a basic structural guide for how to include and format key points of your letter.
Before sending, quickly recheck the employer’s brief to make sure you have responded correctly to all their instructions – it’s easy to miss something!