Are you finding it difficult to write a cover letter for an Australian job application?
If so, you’ve got company. Each week, we get dozens of questions from our clients on cover letter writing. So we’ve thought of coming up with a list of the most frequently asked cover letter questions, with answers to guide you.
Do I need a cover letter?
A cover letter is important in the sense that it entices the Hiring Manager or Recruiter to proceed in reading your resume. There’s no doubt that a good cover letter can spell the difference between getting noticed or passed over.
A cover letter is necessary in the following cases:
- If the job ad requires a cover letter;
- If the potential employer, Hiring Manager or Recruiter requests for one;
- If you’re applying directly to someone you know;
- If someone has referred you for the role;
- If you know something about the job and role; and
- If you aren’t sure if there are available jobs in your target company.
But – cover letters are not always required.
For example, you might not need a cover letter when you’re applying online. Some applicant tracking systems also don’t allow candidates to send their cover letters. In this case, don’t worry. Just upload your resume or fill in the online application form.
Should a cover letter always be one page?
It depends. A one-page cover letter is typically true for roughly 90% of job applicants. Your objective is to intrigue the reader, and get him to open your resume. In most situations, you can accomplish this goal in just one page.
There may be situations though when two-page letters are recommended particularly for the following types of job seekers:
- Career or Industry Changers
- C-Level Executives
- Scientists and Technologists
- Individuals seeking roles in the Government or Public Service sectors (usually required to address a set of selection criteria in a two-page pitch in a cover letter format)
What if I don’t know the addressee’s name?
If you intend to send your cover letter to a company and you don’t have the name of a person to whom you can address the letter, take some time to find out who the appropriate contact is before deciding to use a generic salutation.
Using a generic salutation (example: Dear Sir/Madam, To Whom It May Concern) can create unfavourable impressions. This may imply that you’re not too resourceful to research who the Hiring Manager or Recruiter is for the role. Try calling the company and explain to their representative that you don’t want to send your cover letter without a specific name.
However, if you can’t find a person to whom you can address the cover letter despite considerable research, be specific in your generic salutation.
Direct the cover letter either to the Hiring Manager or Recruiter accountable for the position, and then include the position name so it’s apparent what you’re applying for when someone opens your mail and reviews your cover letter.
For example, use: ‘Hiring Manager for Sales Manager Position’ or ‘HR Recruiter for Administrative Assistant Position.’ This will help your cover letter be directed to the right person as immediately as possible.
Do I have to mention why I’m currently in the job market?
It’s absolutely not required for you to explain this in your cover letter unless you are specifically asked to do so.
When asked, use the reason why you’re currently looking for a new job as a way to sell yourself (example: “I want to further my career by acquiring new skills and experience.”)
Avoid stating that you want to leave your current company because you’re unhappy with your daily commute or the number of hours you have to work as these could make you appear negative.
Should I include my salary requirement?
Only supply your salary information when responding to an advertisement that specifically requested your salary history or requirements.
Failing to include this information shows a lack of attention to detail or inability to follow specific instructions.
If salary information is requested, our advice is to always use a range to give yourself a little bit of breathing room. Giving a salary range could also tell the Hiring Manager that you require a little more information (which is usually provided during the interview) before you give them a definite answer.
Should my cover letter be an attachment of just the body of my email?
Either, but not both. Don’t think about replicating the cover letter in both the email and the attachment.
Though ideally, our advice is to copy the content of your cover letter and paste it as a body of the email. This will give you the opportunity to make a strong first impression the moment the reviewer opens his inbox. You can draw someone in with a compelling opening line, and then demonstrate how you could contribute to the potential employer.
If, instead, you decide to attach your cover letter together with your resume, your email should be brief and direct the reader to open the attachments. See example below:
- “I’ve learned that you are looking for a Senior Sales Manager with strong business-to-business experience and knowledge of Cloud. That’s me. My attached resume and cover letter outline my relevant qualifications for the role. Thank you very much for your consideration, and I hope to hear from you.”
Keep this very brief if you go this route, so those on the receiving end won’t have difficulties in going through long email and all your attachments.
Make sure your cover letter, resume, and other job search materials look the same. Choose a standard presentation (font style, size, heading, format) for your documents, and stick with it.
*This post was originally published on 02 April 2018.
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