Updating Results

How to write an excellent cover letter

James Davis

Careers Commentator
Being able to articulate yourself through a cover letter is integral to landing your dream graduate job. Read on for practical tips.

In this article, we’ll cut straight to the chase and explain what graduate employers want from a cover letter, why they want it and how to deliver. By the end you’ll be able to write targeted cover letters with purpose, which will help you land your dream graduate job.

What do graduate employers want from my cover letter?

They’re looking for a quick description of how you could fit their company. They don’t want a comprehensive essay on why each applicant is amazing.

Why do graduate employers want cover letters?

At the least, it’s a good way to gauge who understands the position and who doesn’t. At best, it’s a way to determine potential interview candidates.

How do I write a cover letter for a graduate job?

The perfect cover letter is all about two things.

  1. Logical structure
  2. Concise writing

If your letter is easy to read, it’s easier to get through. Graduate employers could be sifting through hundreds of these, so making it easy for them is optimal. Let’s go through a generic accounting job advert.

“Jane Blogs Accounting is looking for an ambitious, results-oriented graduate to join their growing, industry leading team as a commercial analyst.

Key responsibilities:

  • Improve spending procedures on the ABC initiative
  • Budget analysis
  • Analyse and make recommendations on projects
  • Identify bottlenecks and implement improvements

In this microcosm of a job advert, we can observe two important things that our structure will incorporate:

  1. They’ve got some character traits in mind.
  2. Job responsibilities are well defined.

Open with your name, address and relevant contact information, with your potential employer’s information afterward. Address them with ‘dear [name]’ if possible. If you’re throwing your application into an automated process with no clear face, feel free to either do some digging to find their HR people or simply use “To Whom It May Concern:” (sic). Your opening sentence should then clarify which graduate job you’re going for, or what ad you’re responding to.

“Dear Ms Blogs,

I saw your posting for the position of commercial analyst and think I’m an ideal candidate. My resume is attached for your consideration.”

In this case, you’ll next want to assert why you’re results-oriented and ambitious. Tell them why you’re capable of budget analysis, identifying bottlenecks and improving spending procedures. Feel free to use dot points for brevity, keeping each point to a sentence.

“There are several reasons why I believe I’m well-suited.

  • I have experience developing and implementing spending procedures as treasurer of the XYZ society at university.
  • My time interning at Generic Bank Ltd provided me with the means of implementing budget analysis techniques I’d learned during my degree.
  • I have experience making project recommendations from the Acronym Bank Ltd Investment Banking Competition.
  • I’ve cleared bottlenecks in myriad university projects by taking charge and delegating to maximise each member’s strengths.
  • My ambition and results orientation are illustrated in my commitment to extracurricular commercial analysis activities.”

Take note of how experience is referenced here. Where you placed in the competition, how well you did in a course or the details of extracurricular activities are superfluous. That can be brought up in the job interview. A cover letter is what you write to get their attention. I have this because of that. I know this because of that. Done. It’s easily digestible and ticks all their boxes. If you don’t have any quick experiences to point at, feel free to collapse this process even further. A casual mention of how your coursework contributes to an understanding of their requirements is the next best thing. An alternative you could use:

“I’m well versed in spending procedures, budget analysis, making project recommendations and removing bottlenecks because my coursework required it. I’d greatly appreciate the chance to develop further by making meaningful contributions to Jane Blogs Accounting.”

Not as effective admittedly, but gets the job done. Whichever style you choose, your next paragraph should be the sell. Thank them for their time and say you look forward to hearing back. You may also offer to call them later to clarify any points of interest if you’re feeling bold. Finish with a kind sign-off and you’re square.

“Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you! I’ll call you later next week and we can discuss any particulars you might like clarified.

Kind regards,

Anne Applicant”

You should now have a much better idea of how to format your cover letters and give graduate employers what they want to see. Now that you’ve got a good idea of what needs doing, why not browse some choice grad positions right here on Prosple NewZealand? Each position has something great to offer, but it’s on you to find which company fits you best and vice versa. Good luck!