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How to write an effective cover letter

You no longer need to Google it, simply keep reading!

How to write an effective cover letter

Did you know writing a cover letter is one of the most searched “How-To” questions on Google? Not only globally, but in NZ it was ranked at number 5.

So, we thought it was worth discussing further...


The cover letter is your first impression with a potential employer - think of it like a strong handshake. This is important; this is your chance to say why an employer needs you in their team. Your goal is for the employer to want to find out more about you, by reading your CV and securing an interview where you can meet face-to-face to determine if this is the right fit for both of you.

As recruiters we read a lot of cover letters, and whilst some do their job in highlighting a candidate’s skills and potential, others feel like they are mass generated from a generic template and do nothing to benefit a candidate’s employment prospects.

To keep it simple, here are our top tips for an impressive cover letter:


  • Include your current contact details so the employer can easily get a hold of you
  • Address the letter correctly to the employer. If there is no name listed, do a bit of research on the company - Google it, search on Facebook or give them a call. "To whom it may concern" is not acceptable
  • Start strong: the first sentence you write is the most important, so make it a good one. An employer may read no further
  • Demonstrate you know a bit about the company and give reasons as to why you would like to work with them
  • Spell it out for them. Why should they want you as part of their team? What are the skills and attributes you can bring to the role?
  • Include some insight into your character, personality and overall suitability for the company
  • Finish with a call to action e.g. “Feel free to call me to arrange an interview…. I look forward to meeting with you”


  • Be negative
  • Highlight any shortcomings in your skills and experience - you need to focus on what you can bring to the role, not what you cannot
  • Have errors in spelling and grammar – spell check, ask a friend to check it for you
  • Make your letter too long. It doesn’t have to include everything, about 3 to 5 paragraphs to excite an employer and make them want to learn more through your CV and interview.
  • Create a generic cover letter and send to multiple jobs – each job is different, as should be your cover letter!

And out of interest, the top 10 NZ searched “How-To” questions are as follows:

1. How to make pancakes

2. How to draw

3. How to tie a tie

4. How to lose weight

5. How to write a cover letter

6. How to make money

7. How to make French toast

8. How to lose belly fat

9. How to kiss

10. How to get pregnant

Claire Hewson

Claire Hewson

Our resident Managing Director, Claire is our in-house HR practitioner, qualified psychometric assessor and career coach.

Phone 06 280 2399 Mobile 027 541 4013 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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(06) 356 6091 Fax: (06) 356 6071

53 Princess Street, Palmerston North 4410
PO Box 594, Palmerston North 4440


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