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How to Write a Cover Letter for the New Zealand Market in 2024

Template ideas, tips and AI optimisations to help you build the best cover letter. 

In today's competitive job market, a well-crafted cover letter is your secret weapon for rising above the competition and making a memorable impression on potential employers. In this article, we'll delve into the essentials of writing a compelling cover letter, incorporating AI-driven tips and a downloadable template to streamline your application process.


How to write a cover letter

Stand out in the job market by crafting a powerful cover letter. Our guide equips you with practical tips to create an impactful introduction, ensuring your application leaves a lasting impression to increase your chances of securing an interview.
 

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a formal, one-page document that accompanies your resume when applying for a job. Its primary purpose is to introduce yourself to potential employers, express your interest in the specific job opening, and articulate why your skills and experiences qualify you as a suitable candidate for the position.

This letter serves to attract the employer's attention and provide context for your resume, allowing you to address the job and employer directly. By highlighting your most relevant skills and experiences, the cover letter demonstrates your alignment with the job requirements and showcases your professionalism. Additionally, it offers a glimpse into your personality and indicates that you have conducted research about the company or industry, further reinforcing your suitability for the role. Cover letters typically includes your contact information, the date, and the contact information of the employer. The body of the letter usually consists of an introduction, a middle paragraph where you discuss your skills and experiences, and a concluding paragraph where you express your interest in the position and the company, and request for an interview.
 

What is the importance of a cover letter?

A cover letter is important because it allows you to specifically address the job and employer, highlight your most relevant skills and experiences, show your enthusiasm for the position, and provide additional information or context that your resume might not cover, thereby increasing your chances of being called for an interview.

Download the 2024 cover letter template with AI prompts

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Additional Insights into the Importance of cover letters are below:

1. Personalised Introduction: It provides an opportunity to introduce yourself in a more personalised manner than a resume allows. It lets you express your enthusiasm for the role and the company and explain why you're interested in the position.

2. Highlight Relevant Skills: It allows you to highlight the skills and experiences that make you a strong candidate for the specific job. You can detail projects or roles that demonstrate these skills, providing a fuller picture of your capabilities than the bullet points in your resume.

3. Show Understanding of the Company and Role: You can show you've done your research about the company and understand its values, products, or challenges. This demonstrates your interest in the company and the role itself.

4. Explain Additional Details: If there are any gaps in your employment, career changes, or other issues that may raise questions when an employer reviews your resume, a cover letter gives you the opportunity to address these and provide context.

5. Stand Out from Other Applicants: A well-written and thoughtful cover letter can help you stand out from other applicants. It shows you've put in extra effort into your application and that you're not just mass-applying to jobs.

6. Get Past Applicant Tracking Systems: Some companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan for keywords related to the job description. Including these keywords in your cover letter can increase your chances of getting past these systems. So, while a cover letter may not always be required, it can boost your chances of securing an interview, and ultimately, the job.

 

Steps on how to write a professional cover letter

1. Understand the job requirements

Begin by thoroughly understanding the job description and requirements and then demonstrate this by directly addressing the key responsibilities and qualifications listed. Provide specific examples from your past experience that align with these requirements. Use similar language and terminology from the job description to show your familiarity with the role. Additionally, express how your skills and experiences make you a suitable candidate and how you can contribute to the company's goals. Demonstrating a clear understanding of the job requirements in your cover letter shows that you are well-suited for the role and have taken the time to research and prepare.

2. Research the company

Researching a company before applying for a role is crucial as it provides insight into the company's culture, values, mission, and current projects.It also allows you to tailor your application and demonstrate in your cover letter and interview how your skills, experiences, and career goals align with what the company is looking for. Furthermore, showing that you've taken the time to understand the company indicates your genuine interest in the role and sets you apart from other candidates who may have applied without as much consideration. It shows initiative, enthusiasm, and a proactive approach, qualities that are highly valued by employers.

Demonstrate research in your cover letter by citing specific details like awards, projects, values, or goals. Align your skills with the company's needs, convey cultural understanding, and explain how your unique abilities contribute to its mission.

3. Create a memorable opening

Creating a memorable opening statement in a cover letter involves capturing the reader's attention and immediately establishing your interest and suitability for the role. Start by directly addressing the hiring manager if you know their name. Briefly introduce yourself and express your enthusiasm for the role and the company. Mention the job title and where you found the listing to show you're purposefully applying. You could also include an accomplishment that directly relates to the job requirements or share a brief anecdote that demonstrates your passion for the industry. The key is to be concise, engaging, and focused on how you can contribute to the company.

4. Highlight your achievements

To highlight your achievements in a cover letter, you should first identify the key requirements of the job and then select your accomplishments that best align with these. Use specific examples and quantify your achievements whenever possible, for example,stating that you increased sales by a certain percentage or led a team of a certain size. Use action verbs to describe what you did and the impact it had. Be sure to concisely explain not only what the achievement was, but also how it was beneficial to your previous employer. This will help to convey your value and potential contribution to the new company.

5. Demonstrate your cultural fit

Aligning personal values with the company culture in your cover letter is crucial as it demonstrates that you would be a good fit within the organisation. It shows you've taken the time to understand the company's values and culture, indicating genuine interest in the role and the organisation. Employers are more likely to hire candidates who share their values and fit their culture, as these employees are generally more engaged, productive, and likely to stay with the company longer. By aligning your values with the company culture, you're not only selling your skills and experiences, but also your potential as a harmonious and contributing member of their team.

6. Showcase your soft skills

Showcasing soft skills in a cover letter is important as it provides a holistic view of your capabilities beyond technical competencies. Soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, leadership, and teamwork, are highly valued by employers as they are crucial for workplace success. They demonstrate your ability to interact effectively with colleagues, adapt to new situations, and handle challenges. Highlighting these skills can set you apart from other candidates with similar technical qualifications. By providing examples of how you've used these skills in past roles or projects, you can show potential employers that you not only have these competancies, but know how to apply them in a work context.

7. Craft a compelling closing statement

In a compelling closing statement of a cover letter, you should reiterate your enthusiasm for the role, express confidence in your ability to contribute to the company and invite further discussion by suggesting a meeting or interview.

Including a compelling closing statement is important as it provides a final opportunity to leave a strong impression, reiterate your interest in the role, and encourage the employer to move forward with your application, thereby increasing your chances of landing an interview.

8. Don’t forget to proofread

Proofreading your cover letter before sending it is crucial as it helps ensure clarity, professionalism, and avoids the potential negative impact of errors. Mistakes in spelling, grammar, or punctuation can give the impression of carelessness and lack of attention to detail, which could lead employers to question your suitability for the job. A well-proofread letter, on the other hand, demonstrates your communication skills and your commitment to delivering quality work.

Proof reading check list:

1. Spelling: Check for any misspelled words or typos.

2. Grammar: Ensure your sentence structure, verb tenses, and punctuation are all correct.

3. Consistency: Make sure your formatting, font, and style are consistent throughout the document.

4. Content Accuracy: Double-check all names, titles, dates, and other specifics.

5. Clarity: Make sure your sentences are clear and concise, avoid jargon and complex language.

6. Tone: Ensure the tone is professional and matches the tone of the company to which you're applying.

7. Contact Information: Verify your contact details are correct.

8. Relevance: Check that all information is relevant to the job you're applying for.

9. Persuasiveness: Make sure your cover letter showcases your skills, experiences, and interest in the role effectively.

10. Call to Action: Ensure your closing statement encourages the employer to take the next step.

 

How to format a cover letter

A cover letter should be formatted with a clear structure:

1. Contact Information: At the top, include your name, address, phone number, and email, followed by the date and the employer's contact information.

2. Salutation: Address the hiring manager by name if possible.

3. Opening Paragraph: Catch the reader's attention by expressing your enthusiasm for the job and the company, and briefly mention how you heard about the opportunity.

4. Middle Paragraph(s): Highlight your qualifications, skills, and experiences that make you a good fit for the role. Use specific examples to demonstrate your achievements.

5. Closing Paragraph: Reiterate your interest in the role, thank the employer for considering your application, and suggest a next step (like a meeting or interview).

6. Complimentary Close and Signature: End with a professional sign-off, such as "Sincerely," followed by your full name.
 

Ensure that the text is aligned to the left, and use a professional font. Maintain consistent spacing between paragraphs, and keep the letter to a single page.

To format a cover letter, begin with your contact information, including your name, address, phone number, and email, followed by the date and the employer's contact information. Use a professional salutation, preferably addressing the hiring manager by name. The opening paragraph should capture the reader's attention, express your enthusiasm for the job and the company, and mention where you found the job posting. The middle paragraphs should highlight your qualifications, skills, and experiences that make you a suitable candidate, using specific examples to illustrate your achievements. In the closing paragraph, reiterate your interest in the role, express gratitude for the employer's consideration, and suggest a next step, such as a meeting or interview. End with a professional sign-off, like "Sincerely," followed by your full name. The entire letter should be left-aligned, written in a professional font, with consistent spacing between paragraphs, and should not exceed one page in length.

 

How to sign off and end a cover letter

To sign off and end a cover letter, use a professional and formal closing such as "Sincerely" or "Best regards", followed by your full name. Prior to this, in your final paragraph, you should reiterate your interest in the role, thank the employer for considering your application, and suggest a follow-up action, such as a desire for a meeting or interview. After the sign-off, consider including your contact information again to make it easy for the employer to reach you. Lastly, if you're sending your cover letter electronically, you may also include a digital signature for a professional touch.

Cover letter tips & checklist – how to standout

1. Personalise the Salutation: Address the hiring manager by name if possible. This shows that you've taken the time to research and tailor your application.

2. Start Strong: Your opening paragraph should grab the reader's attention. Mention the job you're applying for and state why you're interested.

3. Showcase Your Skills and Qualifications: Use the body of the cover letter to highlight your skills and experiences that are most relevant to the job. Use specific examples or achievements to demonstrate your qualifications.

4. Use Keywords: If a job posting mentions specific skills or qualifications, try to include those keywords in your cover letter. This can help your application get past automated screening tools used by some companies.

5. Show Enthusiasm: Express your enthusiasm for the job and the company. This can help you stand out and show that you're not just interested in a job, but in this job at this company.

6. Keep It Concise: Your cover letter should not exceed one page. Keep it focused and to the point.

7. Proofread: Make sure your cover letter is free of typos and grammatical errors. This shows that you pay attention to detail and care about the quality of your work.

8. Close Strong: In your closing paragraph, thank the hiring manager for considering your application and express your hope for the opportunity to further discuss your qualifications.

9. Professional Sign-Off: Sign off with a professional closing such as "Sincerely" or "Best regards", followed by your full name.

10. Follow Instructions: If the job posting includes specific instructions for the cover letter, make sure you follow them. This shows that you can follow directions and respect the company's process.

 


Should you use AI to write a cover letter?

Using AI can be helpful in structuring, suggesting improvements, and even proofreading your cover letter, especially if you're not sure where to start. However, a cover letter needs to be personalised and reflect your individual voice, enthusiasm, and interest in both the role and the company. AI should be seen as a tool to aid the process, not to fully automate it.

 

How to use AI to optimise your cover letter

AI can be a useful tool to help you optimise your cover letter, here’s some examples of how you can use it:

1. Personalised Introduction: AI tools can assist in crafting a personalised introduction that directly addresses the job and the employer. By analysing job descriptions and company details, these tools can tailor your introduction to suit the specific role.

2. Highlighting Relevant Skills: AI algorithms can identify keywords and phrases from the job description, aiding you in integrating them into your cover letter. This ensures that your skills and experiences align closely with the job requirements, increasing your visibility to applicant tracking systems.

3. Addressing Additional Details: AI can provide suggestions for addressing any gaps in your employment history or career changes positively. By offering context and explanations, you can alleviate any concerns the employer may have about your background.

4. Standing Out from Other Applicants: Leveraging AI, you can create a cover letter that is both unique and tailored to the specific job and company. By incorporating AI-generated insights and suggestions, you can differentiate yourself from other applicants and increase your chances of making an impact in a competitive job market.

By integrating AI into your cover letter writing process, you can streamline the optimisation process and enhance your chances of success. Remember, however, to review and personalise the content to ensure that your cover letter remains authentic and reflective of your individuality.


Our cover letter template includes helpful tips and prompts for using AI to help you write your cover letter. Download it here.

 

Common mistakes to avoid when writing a cover letter:

1. Generic content: Avoid using a generic template or generic language that could apply to any job—tailor your cover letter to the specific position by highlighting relevant skills and experiences.

2. Overemphasis on personal history: While it's essential to share your background, focus on how your skills and achievements make you an ideal candidate for the job rather than providing an exhaustive personal history.

3. Ignoring company culture: Failure to research and incorporate aspects of the company's culture, values, or recent achievements may convey a lack of genuine interest in the organisation.

4. Grammatical and typographical errors: Thoroughly proofread your cover letter to ensure it is free from grammatical and typographical errors, as such mistakes can create a negative impression of your attention to detail.

5. Being too lengthy: Keep your cover letter concise, emphasising key points without overwhelming the reader—employers often have limited time and prefer succinct, well-organised cover letters.

 

Sealing success: Wrapping up your guide

Crafting a compelling cover letter is essential for making a lasting impression in the job market. By following our guide and incorporating AI-driven insights, you can enhance your application strategy and increase your chances of securing interviews. Download our cover letter template and embark on your journey to career success today!

Plus, use our CV guide and template to strategically tailor your resume to demonstrate the unique value you will bring to the role you're applying for.


 

 

 

FAQs

A resume is a brief outline of your skills and experiences, while a cover letter is a personalissed document explaining your interest in the role and how you are a good fit. A resume is typically more factual and impersonal, whereas a cover letter allows for personalissation and expression of enthusiasm for the role and company.

If you have limited career experience, your cover letter should focus on transferable skills, academic achievements, and relevant activities or volunteer work. Highlight projects or coursework related to the job you're applying for. Mention soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and teamwork that are relevant to the role. Also, express your enthusiasm for the job and the industry, showing your willingness to learn and grow.

To find out what a reasonable salary is for the job and industry you are in or are thinking of moving into, use a salary Guide to discover the average pay for someone with a similar level of experience as you and view your earning potential. You can download the Robert Walters salary guide here.

A cover letter should be concise and focused, typically not exceeding one page in length. It should contain enough detail to demonstrate your qualifications and interest in the position, but also be brief enough to maintain the reader's attention. A general guideline is to aim for between three to four well-crafted paragraphs or around 250 to 400 words.

You should first address the hiring manager by name, if possible, for a personalised touch. The opening paragraph should express your enthusiasm for the job and the company, and briefly mention how you heard about the opportunity. It's also beneficial to include a compelling statement about your qualifications that align with the job requirements, demonstrating your understanding of the role and how you can contribute to the company.

A cover letter should ideally be addressed directly to the hiring manager or the person responsible for reviewing applications. If the job posting does not mention a specific person, you can try to find out the person's name by researching the company's website or LinkedIn profiles. If you cannot find the name, you can use a general salutation such as "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear [Company Name] Team." It's best to avoid generic salutations like "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Sir/Madam" as they can come across as impersonal.

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