Cover letters

​A cover letter is your introduction to an employer. It aims to communicate two key messages: why you want the position and why the organisation should want you.​

Your cover letter should:

  • Be professional yet personable in tone
  • Be concise and focused so that your letter fits comfortably in one page
  • Avoid overly formal or academic language and long complicated sentences
  • Tell the employer why you are applying for the position in their organisation
  • Include the name and position of the person who will receive your application (if possible)

Download an example cover letter

Writing a cover letter for an unadvertised job

The cover letter format above focuses on applications for advertised positions. However, the same approach can be used when writing to an employer to enquire about work opportunities even though no position has been advertised. In this case, you'll need to make a few modifications to your cover letter for this situation:

  • Email your letter rather than attaching a document. This way, it’s more likely to be read.
  • Make the most of your subject line. Be specific and include positive qualities about yourself (e.g. University of Melbourne Commerce graduate seeking work; Experienced intern seeking work).
  • Use short, focused paragraphs with only one key message per paragraph.
  • Make the opening paragraph a clear statement detailing why you're writing and what you're seeking. If you have been referred by a contact, mention the contact’s name here.
  • In your final paragraph, specify what you would like to happen next.

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Next: Resumes