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Does anybody care about a cover letter?

September 9, 2019 by Susan Surgener

Does anybody care about a cover letter?

Is taking the time to craft a personalised cover letter still worth it in the 21st century? Major recruiters seem to think so. Do a check on sites such as Hudson, Hays and Michael Page and see for yourself. Seek would also say it’s crucial.

The only time you’re not going to write a cover letter is, if you’re pointedly asked not to.

What’s the point of a cover letter?
A bad cover letter is not going to do you any favours but a great cover letter can make all the difference when it comes to narrowing down applicants for interview.

Firstly, it lets you demonstrate why you believe you meet the selection criteria i.e. why you believe you are the best person for the job. Secondly, it allows you to entice the reader to connect to your resume, rather than chucking your application in a great big ‘NO’ file. Lastly, it lets you start really thinking about what you’re actually going to bring to the job that you’re applying for – you can start to visualise why your background works in the space on offer. You will interview better.

So, how do you create the kind of cover letter that paves the way?  To make it easier, start thinking about the “What not to do”. Do not:

  1. Address your letter to nobody e.g. To Whom It May Concern
    Where possible, take the time to seek out a contact person. Perhaps there’s a contact name in the advertisement? If not, contact the company or, at the very least, address it to ‘The Manager’ or ‘Human Resources Department’.
  1. Use an old style format with indents
    Go for a left-aligned and blocked business letter. Have a look at any recent formal letter’s you’ve received and notice the format. There won’t be any indents, all the text will sit across on the left hand margin.
  1. Write a novel
    Be smart with summarising! Keep it simple and keep it to one page unless otherwise directed. You can also use bullet points and action words (backing up statements with evidence) to succinctly describe your skills, experience and ability to take on the job.
  1. Be overly formal
    A cover letter is your chance to be a bit more personal. This doesn’t mean that you don’t pay attention to spelling and grammar or be sloppy, but it also doesn’t mean that you have to make it stilted with great, big words you wouldn’t generally use.

Careers, Employment & Leadership have some great resources on cover letters for Curtin students – from how to format a letter to what to include; highlighting your fit for a specific role. There’s also a workshop happening this week. Head to UniHub to find out more.

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