How to write a good cover letter: our top tips for success
1st October 2021
Writing a good cover letter is easy if you know where to start. All it takes is some practice and a little know-how from our team of HELPful employment coaches.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a letter of introduction that highlights your key achievements, experience and skills. Your cover letter should tell potential employers why you’re the right person for the job.
What’s the difference between a resume and a cover letter?
A resume is a general snapshot of your skills and experience, whereas a cover letter describes why those skills and experience would make you a good candidate for the job you are applying for.
Why are cover letters important?
Cover letters are important because they show an employer exactly why they should hire you. Your cover letter gives you the opportunity to talk about the type of position you’re looking for, what skills and experience you can bring to the job, and why you would be an asset to the team.
A cover letter can also help employers choose between candidates with similar experience, or explain gaps in your resume due to having a family, changing careers, or taking time off to address health concerns.
When writing your next cover letter it’s important to.....
- Make sure your contact info is clear and easy to find. Include your full name, mobile number, and email address.
- Keep your cover letter short and sweet - between 250-400 words, on one page is best.
- Address your cover letter to the relevant person. For example, if you are applying for a hospitality role at a local cafe you would address it to the cafe owner or manager by name. Avoid using phrases like ‘To whom it may concern’, or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ when addressing your cover letter as it can leave a negative impression.
If the job ad doesn't state who to address your letter to, you can contact the email provided and ask for the name of the hiring manager.
- State the role you are applying for (include the job reference number if applicable).
- Explain why you are applying for the role, e.g. “I have recently completed my Cert II in Warehousing and am looking for a new opportunity to apply my skills.”
- Tell the employer why your specific experience and skills make you the perfect person for the job! Make sure your reference your resume, focus on the positives and tailor your response so it highlights information relevant to the role you’re applying for.
You don’t have to start from scratch every time you apply for a job, but you should adjust the content to best reflect what makes you an ideal candidate based on the job's duties and responsibilities.
- Research the organisation so you can reference aspects of the business that may relate to your role. For example, “I noticed that Marks Tyres is now selling auto parts. In my previous role at Bens Auto Shop I was in charge of sales and customer service, so if I was to secure this role, I would really like to use my skills to contribute to this part of the business too”.
- Present your cover letter professionally. Keep it simple, clean, and concise. If you need some help getting started you can use our HELP cover letter templates.
- Finish on a strong note. Be polite and show that you are excited to take the next step in the application process. For example, "Thank you for taking the time to consider my application. I look forward to hearing from you soon".
- Check for typos, including spelling and grammar. Check it ten times if you have to, or better yet, get a friend, family member or your HELP coach to proofread it so you can be sure there are no mistakes.
Need help applying for jobs? Contact our friendly team to start your employment journey with HELP.