How To Write A Cover Letter (Examples, Templates & Guide)

Write a cover letter that impresses hiring managers.

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Last updated: February 29th, 2024

how to write a cover letter australia

Last updated: February 29th, 2024

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Australia’s job market is competitive. You will sell yourself short if you don’t submit a compelling cover letter in your job application.

Your application must give hiring managers confidence that you’re the ideal person to meet their needs — even if your skills and experience aren’t a perfect match.

Guess what? A clear and convincing cover letter can help you do that.

Sure, you can download a cover letter template and plug in some generic information.

But a better strategy is to use the best cover letter examples and templates (including ours below) as a starting point for crafting a tailored and impactful cover letter.

Do This To Impress Employers (Before You Start Writing Your Cover Letter).

A cover letter is an introductory note that accompanies your resume as part of a job application, to communicate why you’re the best candidate for a job.

This isn’t a business document. It’s a reflection of your personal brand.

Expert Tip.

You’re personally writing to another human being, so use personal pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘you’. And keep your language natural – resist the temptation to sound like a corporate robot.

To articulate why you’re the best fit — before you start typing — take the time to:

  • Research the role and the company. Read the job description and learn about a company’s goals, challenges, values, industry and customer base so you can write intelligently about how you’ll add value (e.g., is the company vying for an IPO?).
  • Gather your best examples. Collate examples of projects you ran and the impact you made. Quantify as much as possible (e.g., reduced CRM costs by 35%, raised employee retention by 13%, closed $5m of sales in 2023).

Important!

Use your company research to identify the best person to address your cover letter to (if it’s not listed in the ad). This personalises your approach and makes you seem clued in and ready to step into a team.

How To Write A Cover Letter For Australian Employers.

Unless you have an insider connection, your cover letter can make or break your chances of getting an interview. Every word needs to earn its place.

Here’s what to include and avoid as you write each part of your cover letter.

1. Write Contact Details And Salutation.

What to include:

  • A header with your name a a career tagline, e.g., Senior Sales Director.
  • Your contact details – limit this to your email address and mobile phone number.
  • A personal salutation, such as ‘Dear Peter,’.

Here’s an example:

Important!

Avoid the salutations “Dear Hiring Manager”. If you can’t find their name, use “To Whom It May Concern” as a last resort.

2. Write The First Paragraph.

Don’t waste space reiterating where and when you saw the job listing, as this will be tracked online and makes you appear out of touch with the market and digital job search.

Instead, launch into your main value proposition and the most powerful evidence of your suitability for the role.

Choose the juicy bits from your resume that tie to the key points from the job description.

Here’s an example of a strong introductory paragraph:

What to avoid:

  • Bragging, or coming across as arrogant or selfish will likely backfire on you. For example: “Australia’s best salesperson who consistently out-sells teammates with my take-no-prisoners attitude.” No one wants to work with a jerk.
  • Fake enthusiasm. Leading with how thrilled you would be to get the job smacks of insincerity and mediocrity – as though you have nothing substantive to say. Worse, it will make you sound just like every other applicant.

3. Write The Middle Paragraphs.

Continue to expand on your value proposition. In other words, add secondary and tertiary reasons that confirm your suitability for the role.

Your goal is to capture the recruiter’s attention in the midst of their chaotic day.

Effective ways to flesh out this section include:

  • A list of 3 or more achievements that offer tangible proof of your capabilities. (Learn how to radically increase the power of your achievements).
  • A good story, if you have one. Is there a unique experience you’ve had with their brand that can be described succinctly? A sincere way to create an emotional connection?

Take a look at this example:

Important!

Don’t repeat the achievements from your resume verbatim. You can use the same achievement in your resume and cover letter but you must find a different way to frame it.

What to avoid:

  • Apologies. Perhaps you don’t tick every box — don’t downplay yourself. Explain why you are still the best candidate despite whatever obstacles you perceive in your background.
  • Flowery language and cliches. Assume everyone thinks they’re a “seasoned professional”, “team player”, or “dynamic”, “energetic”, or “proven” leader. Delete all buzzwords from your cover letter.

4. Write Your Concluding Statements.

If there’s room, throw in a few more value points — again, ensuring they’re relevant to the job ad/description. Finally, thank the potential employer for the opportunity.

Here’s an example:

Free Cover Letter Templates [Download].

Even though you’re learning how to write a unique cover letter, there’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from a cover letter template.

In fact, they’re really handy for guidance on the basic structure. And they can be a great way to organise your thoughts – freedom in a frame, so to speak.

Below are two cover letter templates for you to choose from. (Ensure you have a recent version of Word installed on your computer).

1. Contemporary Cover Letter Template.

Download Now:

2. Classic Cover Letter Template.

Download Now:

How Does Your Cover Letter Interact With Your Resume?

You’ll probably need to tweak your cover letter alongside your resume, and constantly cross-check to ensure they work together to convey your strengths.

A good cover letter should:

  • Dovetail with your resume: Ensure you reinforce what you say in your cover letter through the details you include on your resume. A disconnect between the two will either create confusion or arouse suspicion.
  • Close gaps left by your resume: It’s hard to explain nuanced life choices via dot points on a resume. Use your cover letter to provide context for major pivots between job types/industries, or periods of unemployment.

Expert Tip.

To ensure your resume hits all the right notes, consider using my recommended free resume builder. Or hire one of my top-rated resume writers if you want us to handle everything.

How Long Should Your Cover Letter Be?

Your cover letter is a teaser. It needs to pique the recruiter’s interest so they’ll pay closer attention to your resume.

Your cover letter should be no longer than one page in length — around 3-5 paragraphs.

Attention spans are short. Keep it punchy, with only the most relevant details, context and your most impressive achievements.

Expert Tip.

Ensure that the achievements you spotlight in your cover letter align with the role you’re applying for. Most job seekers fail to make the right impression by including the same achievements on their every job application.

Before You ‘Hit Send’ On Your Cover Letter.

Before you submit your application, use this checklist to ensure your cover letter includes key details:

Logical ConsistencyDoes it flow and make sense?
Correct DetailsHave you spelt the hiring manager’s name right?
TailoringIs the cover letter aligned with the role? And your resume?
Look & FeelBreak up and simplify dense or verbose sections. Make your cover letter look approachable and scannable.

Expert Tip.

A second set of eyes is always helpful when it comes to spotting mistakes or inconsistencies. Ask someone with superior writing skills to proofread your letter.

Additionally, I recommend sharing it with 2-3 people in your network to get their general feedback on whether you’ve made a compelling case to be hired.

Ideally, choose one person who knows you well professionally, one person who knows you peripherally, and person who knows you well personally.

There’s nothing like fresh eyes to speed up, and dial in, your final draft.

How Should You Format Your Cover Letter?

Here’s a quick tip that will double the impact of your job application – keep your cover letter’s design and format consistent with that of your resume.

This achieves a couple of objectives:

  • It helps you build and reinforce your personal brand.
  • It helps the recruiter with visual recognition of your application.

Don’t go too fancy or complex with your cover letter design or formatting, as it will distract the reader from the meat of your content.

See below for a side-by-side example of a branded set (resume and cover letter):

Here’s the best news. Remember the free cover letter templates that I gave you earlier? Well, I’ve created a matching set of resume templates, which you can download here.

Wait, Do Recruiters Even Read Cover Letters?

One reason that some recruiters don’t read cover letters is because they’re too generic, long-winded and boring.

A 2024 survey found that most people gloss over the cover letter and focus their attention on the CV/resume.

Around 30% of hiring managers said they rarely read cover letters — but more than 30% said a cover letter was either ‘nice to have’ or a deciding factor when it was ‘well-crafted’.

Regardless of recruiter behaviour, you need to decide whether or not a cover will be valuable for your situation. You have 3 options:

  • Don’t write a cover letter. Let your resume promote you on its own. Maybe it will be seen, maybe not.
  • Write a quick’n’nasty cover letter. If it gets read, your resume likely won’t be.
  • Craft a unique, impactful & thoughtful cover letter. Invest the time and, chances are, both your cover letter and resume will see the light of day.

You’re probably better off not writing a cover letter than writing a bad one. However, going the extra mile to write a great cover letter puts you well above candidates who choose options 1 and 2.

Can AI Write A Good Enough Cover Letter For You?

If you’re keen to use AI as a writing tool, we recommend that you only use it to produce a quick first draft that you can then edit and enhance using your human smarts.

Depending on how skilled you are with prompts, a cover letter composed by an AI — such as ChatGPT or Google Bard — could provide a starting point and mimic the right professional tone.

The major drawback of an AI-generated cover letter is that it’s unlikely to be distinctive or tailored to the role.

So, you’ll need to review every sentence to add personality and specificity, and align the message with what the job-poster is looking for.

Do You Have More Questions?

By now, I’m trusting that most of your questions have been answered when it comes to writing a cover letter to accompany your resume for a specific job application.

But cutting through the candidate clutter is no easy feat. And unless you’re a professional writer, the task of creating a standout cover letter can feel overwhelming.

If that’s you, I’m here for you. If you have more questions about how to write a cover letter, feel free to ask me in the comments below.

Wishing you all the best in your upcoming job search, and your career.

Irene

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