Updated 31 October 2022
First impressions count, so you want to make sure your application is making a great one! Cover letters are your secret sauce.
Think of it like an online dating profile – your CV is the essentials, like qualifications and skills, but your cover letter is the saucy bio that explains who you are, what you’re looking for, and why you’d make a great match.
Do you reeeeeally need a cover letter to land a grad job interview?
Graduate recruiters receive on average 2,378 applications per employer (2022 AAGE Employer Survey). You don’t want to be the notorious candidate who shoots out 20 to 50 generic applications from a spray gun, praying that one will surely stick.
Recruiters have limited time, so you want an application that stands out. Cover letters are one of the most effective ways to catch the attention of graduate recruiters (when written well).
What should you say?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your cover letter is just a long-winded summary of your resume. A cover letter is your chance to emotionally connect with recruiters by demonstrating your knowledge of and interest in your potential future employer.
That’s not to say you should copy/paste their corporate values and add “I’m really passionate about…” or “I also like to…” to the front either, because that’s not fooling anyone! Check out our eight key tips for creating an interview-clinching cover letter below.
1. Address your letter correctly
If the job ad or invitations to apply include a recruiter name, make sure to include this in your letter. Alternatively, aim for a more inclusive – “To the grad team at *company*”. We’ve heard stories of some graduates using the wrong employer name in their cover letter, and it does not go down well for you!
2. Introduce who you are
Use your elevator pitch if possible.
3. Mention the role / program you’re applying for and why you want it
Make sure you’re tailoring each cover letter to the role you’re applying for. Consider:
- how your personal values align with employer values (you’ll need to do your research)
- why the role / program appeals to you, for example, the daily practical application of your technical knowledge or, connection to community
- how you can connect your skills, knowledge, and experience with the core job requirements
- whether you can include a relevant and interesting personal story.
4. Briefly summarise your reason for applying
Pull out the key points you’ve written so far to sharply recap why you’ve applied, why you’re the best fit, and what you most look forward to bringing to the role / program.
5. Finish with a call to action
Ask them to react – “I’ve attached my resume if you’d like more detail.”
“Please get in touch if you have questions. You’re best calling me on my mobile 04XX- XXX-XXX”
Keep it simple but direct!
6. Keep it under one page
Tighter is lighter. Your letter should be kept short, sweet, and to the point.
7. Write in a light conversational tone
If you don’t like reading stuffy, overly formal emails and online content, why would recruiters? Make sure it’s easy and interesting to read.
8. Spell and grammar check
Before you submit anything, always hit spell check and make sure your letter isn’t riddled with typos. There’s nothing more off-putting for recruiters, especially when you’re applying for a role that requires high attention to detail!
Leverage your cover letter to help you stand out
Remember, a cover letter’s purpose is not for you to regurgitate all the information included in your resume. Recruiters can already see this. Use your cover letter to introduce your personality, values-fit, and career ambition within their business. You’ll impress recruiters with your knowledge, which also demonstrates the time and effort you spent on your application.
Graduate programs and internships are in high-demand and you’re up against fierce competition. You want to create an application that helps you stand out to improve your chances of landing an interview.
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