Cover letters are an essential part of any graduate application.
Many people ask the question as to whether cover letters actually get read. Well, from my experience as an employer, yes they do! And they can be the ticket to the next stage of your application or the means for your rejection.
Cover letters provide you the opportunity to demonstrate why you want the job and what you can bring to the organisation. It’s also a great opportunity to demonstrate your written communication skills.
If you want to find out how to write a graduate cover letter that sells, then this is the ultimate guide for you!
Before going any further, I highly encourage you to look over our sample cover letter that you can download for free in our Career Launch Toolkit. This will help you with the structure you need for moving forward with the below.
The Career Launch Toolkit also provides you with the templates necessary to complete the below guide.
What’s in a Cover Letter?
There are some standard and simple components that go into a cover letter.
- Personal Details (name, address, telephone number, email)
- Employer’s Details (name, job title, company name, address)
- Content (we’ll cover this part in detail below)
Pretty simple right?
The content is the main component of the cover letter. There is a simple structure that you can use for creating your content. You want your cover letter to sell, so you want to make sure you structure your content as effectively as possible.
There are 5 main components to the structure of your content. To make this really simple, these five components can simply and easily be communicated using 5 paragraphs in your cover letter.
Let’s now get into the detail of each.
Paragraph 1: Introduction & Purpose
The first paragraph of your cover letter outlines the introduction and purpose. It has some core components:
- Job title or position you are applying for
- How you found out about the job
Paragraph 2: Why You Want the Job
The second paragraph in your graduate cover letter outlines why you want the job.
In this section, explain how your studies, qualification and your career plan match the job that you are applying for. You should also demonstrate that you know what the job, company and industry want.
Paragraphs 3 and 4: Your Skills That Are Relevant For the Job
In the third and fourth paragraphs of your cover letter it’s time to demonstrate the skills that you possess that are relevant for the job.
There are two types of skills that you can describe:
- Your technical skills
- Your general skills
Your technical skills are those that are specifically related to the tasks required to successfully perform the job.
Paragraph 5: Closing
The final paragraph is your opportunity to ask the reader to refer to any attachments, such as your resume and mention that you would be interested in an interview.
To close off the cover letter, use one of the following terms to keep it business-like and professional:
- Thank you
- Kind regards
- With gratitude
Example Cover Letters
The Monash University Employment and Career Development Centre has some great examples of cover letters. It’s advised that you don’t copy these (they are real graduate cover letters!) but instead use them to generate ideas for your own cover letter.
- Commerce (pdf 434kb)
- Education (pdf 371kb)
- Engineering (pdf 420kb)
- Environmental Science (pdf 387kb)
- Information Technology (434kb)
- Law (Clerkships) (pdf 378kb)
- Medicine (pdf 201kb)
- Nursing (pdf 391kb)
- Pharmacy intern (pdf 230kb)
- Pharmaceutical science (pdf 332kb)
- Radiation therapy (369kb)
- Social work (pdf 379kb)
- Volunteering (pdf 310kb)
The cover letter can be your ticket to an interview and kicking off the process for launching your career so it’s important you take the time to make it professional and make it sell.
Have you checked out our other guides currently available? And there’s plenty more to come!
- How to Write a Graduate Resume
- Interview Preparation Guide for Graduates
- How to Prepare for the Telephone Interview
- How to Prepare for Psychometric Tests
As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.