You’ve found the ideal job – now it’s time to apply. But how to get noticed when you’re potentially competing with hundreds of other applicants? Making your application stand out is key, and it starts with the cover letter.
We’ve talked about how to write a cover letter before as they are often an underused part of the application process – which means a missed opportunity to get your name on top of the pile. Sometimes the request for a cover letter in a job ad is ignored completely, which may mean the application is immediately discounted.
So, first and foremost, if the ad you’re responding to asks for your resume AND a cover letter, make sure you include both!
What’s the point of a cover letter?
It might feel like you’re being to ask to jump through an extra hoop, but there’s a reason why a cover letter is being requested – it’s usually the part of your application that a recruiter reads first.
Think of the cover letter as your first impression on a potential employer (and the old adage rings true, you only get one chance to make a good first impression). It’s worth investing a bit of time and effort to get it right.
What to include in a cover letter
When it comes to writing a cover letter that gets noticed, here are three key things to focus on:
1. Outline clearly why you are suited to the role being advertised.
This is the opportunity to express your personality in a way that a resume cannot. Always keep it professional, but don’t be afraid to mention why you think you’d make a great candidate. Go ahead and express your interest/passion for the position, the industry, the tasks involved, or the location if relevant.
2. Show your understanding of the role and what it entails.
It might take some research first, but it demonstrates you’re applying to that specific job for a reason, not just ticking off a list of applications. This is especially true of an apprenticeship or traineeship that requires a commitment of up to four years. (Tip: You can start with our trade specialisation pages.)
3. Don’t sell yourself short.
Just because you might be applying for a role you’ve never done before, or don’t have much work experience to draw on, that doesn’t mean you’re out of the running. Look at the skills and attributes mentioned in the job ad and relate them to work and life experiences you do have. It doesn’t need to be paid work; volunteering, school-based work experience, and helping out family and friends are all valid forms of experience if they relate to the role in some way. You may have learned about teamwork through an organised sports team, or responsibility from an after-school job – both important attributes in any employee.
Five cover letter tips from a Recruiter
- Reference the position you’re applying for and the company, and customise the cover letter for each and every job application.
- Summarise your interest in the role, and in the case of an apprenticeship or traineeship, the trade area.
- Keep it short and sweet – say everything you need to in a single page.
- Ensure font type and size are easy to read (use the same font as your resume for a professional look), and include paragraph breaks.
- Do a last edit and spellcheck before submission, or ask someone you know to read it first to catch any typos you may have missed.