(According to Australian Human Resources Institute fact sheet)
Your cover letter is important because it is an overview of your skills and how they apply to the position advertised. Do not be tempted to make your cover letter a rehash of your resume. Take the time to make the documents complement each other to help you secure you an interview. Your cover letter enables you to present yourself (your interest, your abilities, and your suitability) in a coherent and organised way without interruption, so make the most of it.
TYPES OF COVER LETTERS
Specific job applications
If you are using the same resume for several applications your cover letter allows you to tailor your application.
A basic structure for cover letters:
- Mention why you are contacting the employer (what job, what department, what field)
- Explain your interest or relevant experience
- Request an interview or meeting and reiterate your interest in working for the company
Writing a cover letter in response to a job advertisement
Before you begin writing your application, read the job advertisement carefully and find the employer’s wish list of desired characteristics for the position. Look for the following key words/phrases in the job advertisement:
- Personal attributes
- Desired experience and qualifications
Highlight each of the above and work out whether you have these skills that the advertisement is asking for. Review your experience and whether you have performed a similar function in your previous jobs and can do what the advertisement seeks.
Now write your cover letter introducing yourself and outlining your skills, attributes and experience in response to the requirements laid out in the advertisement. Your letter should reflect your personality and ensure you emphasise the qualities the advertiser is looking for. Do not try to be someone else.
Write a better ‘cold call’ cover letter
When your letter of application is not in response to a job advertisement the employer will not be anticipating your correspondence. Therefore, it is important to make your covering letter as clear and appealing as possible. An unsolicited application needs to quickly gain the attention of the reader. Explain what you can offer the organisation and how they will benefit from hiring you. Make sure you address the letter to the correct contact name and tailor your application to the organisation. Make your application look as if you have done your homework about the company and are not sending out large numbers of unqualified for letters.