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How to write a cover letter

Your cover letter has a lot of potential for improving your chance of being called in for an interview

So you're trying to win the job of your dreams, but first you have to make it to the interview. It's not just your resume that employers are interested in – what you say in your cover letter, and how you say it, is equally important. Stand out from the crowd with these tips for writing a great cover letter.

Spelling and grammar

There's nothing more likely to shoot your resume into the rejected pile than a cover letter (or resume) with spelling and grammatical errors. Watch for simple mistakes that aren't always picked up by spellcheck. And make sure you don't use abbreviations either. There's nothing more off-putting to an HR manager than a cover letter full of ‘text speak'.

Personalise your cover letter

Always address the cover letter to the person hiring (this might require some research on your part). It shows you have initiative and that you're not just firing off a generic letter. Remember as well to personalise the cover letter by including the name of the company and specifically talking about why you want to work for them.

Keep your cover letter genuine

HR managers are good at detecting when an applicant is exaggerating or hasn't done their homework, so make sure you're being honest in your cover letter when you talk about the job and why you think you're the best person for it. You don't need to go over the top; sincerity and enthusiasm go a long way.

Focus on the job description

Your main aim with the cover letter is to make it impossible for them not to invite you for an interview. Make sure your cover letter addresses the key points from the job description, highlighting where your experience matches it, but don't repeat what you've written in your resume.

Length of your cover letter

Make your cover letter easy to read and as concise as possible. It shouldn't be any longer than one page. Use short paragraphs and stick to the point.

Sell yourself

In your cover letter, you should be telling a future employer what you can offer them, not what you want to take from the job.

Show personality

Don't go over the top in your cover letter, but do try to reveal a little of your personality, especially positive attributes that you might not be able to showcase in your resume.

Your cover letter has a lot of potential for improving your chance of being called in for an interview. And don't be afraid to ask for help. Speak to your TAFE NSW lecturers, or contact student services for career development advice.

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