Covering Letter Tips

Attract the reader’s attention, promote yourself then conclude with a confirmation statement that you are suitable for the job on offer.

Remember, you are essentially selling yourself! The covering letter is the first thing the selection panel or hiring manager will read about you so make every word count. A good covering letter can make all the difference when it comes to getting that interview.

The standard length for a covering letter is between 3-5 paragraphs although this should be dependent upon your suitability to the job. Don’t ramble on! Be direct, succinct and to the point by not using unnecessary words.

Ensure you are well suited to the position on offer or that you have the ability to attain the qualification they require in a short amount of time. Make sure you understand the responsibilities of the job on offer and that you have researched the company’s strategic objectives so you understand what is important to the organisation you are applying to.

Attract the reader’s attention by stating your objective in the first paragraph.

Ensure you state what job you are applying for by name and position and when and where you found the advertisement. Also address why you are applying for the job on offer.

Promote your suitability for the job in the next 1-3 short paragraphs.

List anything that may set you apart from other applicants with similar qualification and /or experience.
Identify how your skills, experience, knowledge and achievements or abilities match the requirements of the job on offer. Reflect on anything the organisation has listed in the job advertisement as important. For example, if the organisation lists in the ad that they require applicants who are experienced in working with special needs patients, then make sure you discuss how you fit this profile.

Confirm your objective and suitability in the final paragraph:

Summarise your introductory paragraph. Refer to the enclosed resume and any other documentation requested in the application. Highlight your suitability for the position on offer and your preferred mode of contact.

Tips and hints:

  • Never handwrite your covering letter or resume unless specifically asked to
  • Always use the spell check and grammar function on the word processor
  • Always have one or two people read over your work before you send it
  • Ask the reader to comment on whether it makes sense, has spelling, formatting, typographical or grammatical errors
  • Make sure your formatting is consistent and not too busy
  • Do not rehash information that is contained in your resume
  • Do not over write - Only use words you would ordinarily use when you speak
  • You can use a template but be sure to write a letter that is suited to the job on offer
  • Ensure you state why you believe the employer and job on offer is well suited to you
  • Make sure your contact details are on the letter, they can also be placed in the footer
  • Only list an email contact if you check it regularly