How to write a standout cover letter

You know you are perfect for this role.

Your CV is up to date.  Your references are in order. Now all you have to do is write a cover letter.

It sounds easy but it for many jobseekers it can be one of the hardest things to nail.

How do you write a cover letter that will put you ahead of the rest of the pack and get you an interview?

We have a few easy to follow rules to help you make an impression.

Writing a kick-ass cover letter

Download Example Cover Letter Download Cover Letter Template

Step 1 - Always write a cover letter

Always. If you don’t, it looks like you are lazy and you lose the chance to stand out from the other applicants.

Step 2 - Tailor your cover letter

Do not use the same standard letter for all your applications, it is easy to spot a non-specific cover letter and again, it just looks lazy. Take some time and make it specific to the company and the role.

Step 3 - Do your research

Have a look at the company’s website, news stories and social media feeds to figure out how they conduct their business, what they care about and the challenges they may face in their industry.

You can use this information effectively in your cover letter, eg ‘ As a single parent I understand first-hand the  struggle to find good babysitters on short notice. Your online babysitter booking and vetting system has taken all the hassle out of this process and I would love to be part of your inspiring company.’

Step 4 - Start strong

Do not duplicate your CV and the job description in your covering letter. Your cover letter will be stapled to your CV and they are well aware of the vacancy requirements, you don’t have to repeat the obvious.

Rather use this opportunity to let your personality shine through, eg “Want to know why you should hire me? I am passionate about knitting, I live it, I breathe it, I dream it and if I could I would eat it. I believe my bubbly personality, combined with my knitting ninja skills will be an excellent fit for the team at Knitting & Knotting.”

Step 5 - Showcase your problem-solving skills

It does not have to be a specific problem, it could be an industry related problem that you understand and have experience in, eg. “The baked beans industry in New Zealand is currently facing the same challenge as the lentil industry – the high business cost of food labeling. At lentils-r-us I drove the process to cut their labeling costs with 50% and believe my experience will benefit the team at bakedbeans-r-us.”

Step 6 - Keep it short

A good cover letter has about three paragraphs and is no longer than half a page. Skip the long lofty introductions, just jump straight in and get them interested in you. They should be able to read it at glance, so keep it short and strong.

Step 7 - The internet is your friend

There are a lot of resources out there if you are not sure what to do and Dr Google can almost answer any of your questions. There are also plenty of cover letter examples available (as we have on this page) so review some  good examples,  download a template and remember to put your own spin on it.

Good luck!

Written your Cover Letter? Great! Now you can: