Writing an effective cover letter


A good cover letter should get the employer interested enough to read your CV. Like with your CV, it is about what you have and what the employer wants. So when writing your cover letter, consider these three points below;


1. Can you do the job?

Show you have the right abilities, skills, knowledge and experience.

2. Will you do the job?

Show you are very interested in the work itself and that you have the other attributes necessary for success in the role and in the company.


3. Can you work with the company?

Will you fit the company’s culture?

What to include in your cover letter?

  • The first thing you should do is RESEARCH the position, the company, its culture, and the industry.
  • Find out the name and correct spelling, position and contact details of the recruiter, so you can address them in your letter correctly. Securing the name of the recruiter also allows you to personalise your letter and shows that you are resourceful, motivated and professional. To start your letter with ‘To Whom it may concern’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ should be avoided if at all possible.
  • Show that you are professional and have an eye for detail by formatting the letter correctly and avoiding distractions such as coloured font and inconsistent fonts in a document.
  • Introduce yourself to the employer by summarising and highlighting your most relevant, unique selling points, skills and experience by giving examples.
  • The cover letter should state only what you do have, not what you don’t.
  • Begin your opening paragraph with a strong sentence that emphasises the unique selling points and skills you bring to the job.
  • Show that you understand the job AND match the requirements of it to the selection criteria and demonstrate specifically how you’ve gained this relevant experience. This is where you deliver the “proof” that you are qualified to excel in the job.
  • Keep language in the active tense and use power statements.
  • Conclude your letter with a power phrase, such as: “I’m looking forward to the possibility of discussing the valuable contributions I’d bring to your organisation at an interview.”
  • Be aware that many companies now have software packages that automatically scan all applications to measure the number of word matches between your cover letter, resume and the job advertisement, or other position description. So make sure you use the same words to describe your relevant skills.
  • Include a cover letter with every application you make but don’t use the same cover letter for different positions.