Careers advice in Australia blog

Bad cover letters

We notice that a large majority of job seekers tend to send unfocused cover letters when applying for jobs.

Perhaps because you assume a single cover letter can work for all jobs you’re applying to or maybe you’re just in a rush. Regardless, thoughtless cover letters hardly produce positive results.

Here’s an example of a bad cover letter:

Dear Sir/Madam, 

I am writing in response to the Accounting Assistant position advertised on SEEK.com.au on 17 February 2017. This looks like a very good fit to my previous accounting experience and I am keen to join your company. 

I am a seasoned accounting professional with high aptitude across all areas of the accounting scope. I am skilled in accounts payable and invoicing and can excel at tasks such as bookkeeping, reporting and tax. 

Throughout my career I have had exceptional results as an Accountant in Malaysia. I am goal oriented and work well in teams. I am a hard-working team player and can deliver month end reporting results on time for your organisation. 

Enclosed, you will find my resume with more detail on my accounting skills and value that I can bring to your esteemed company. 

I can meet you for an interview and I am keen to discuss the position with you soon.

Yours sincerely, 

Job Seeker

No hiring manager wants to see something like this. Unless you cannot thoughtfully convey why they need to hire you for the role, you won’t be shortlisted for the interview stage.

What makes this a bad cover letter?

  1. The job seeker has used ‘sir/madam’. Your cover letter needs to be addressed to the hiring manager (first name). Find out who they are!
  2. You don’t need to tell the reader where you saw the job advertised. Instead, tell them about the number of years’ experience you have or the key skills/experience you can bring to the role (use keywords from the job ad)
  3. It’s missing 2 – 3 key examples of relatable accounting work from the jobseeker’s previous position/internship/university assignments
  4. The job seeker is using words that should never be used in a cover letter or resume (hard-working team player and esteemed company)
  5. It’s missing a bullet point list of keyword optimised accounting achievements/examples showing how the jobseeker will perform the key duties
  6. The conclusion is weak and doesn’t reinforce why they are the best candidate

What makes a good cover letter?

Cover letters are best written when they concisely convey who you are, what your experience brings to a company, and why you would make a good fit.

Hiring managers want to see your results relevant to the role advertised.

Specifically, you need to “Show, don’t tell”. An effective way to do this is a bullet point list of your key skills that link to the job ad.

How do you “Show, Don’t Tell”?

You need to show your relevancy through past achievements earned. If you have experience working within a project team then you need to explain your successes within that line of work.

Analyse the job ad for keywords and use those keywords in your cover letter and link them to quantifiable examples.

“Hiring managers want to see your past results relevant to the role advertised.”

They want to find that you have done your research: on the role and the company.

Make sure to mention what specifically about the company attracts you to the role and makes you the perfect fit. It then makes it easier on the hiring manager to judge your suitability and the level of focus you’ve put into your application.

Need Help Writing Your Cover Letter?

We hope this has pointed you in the right direction for writing a cover letter.

A cover letter needs to be short and concise (one page). It should show you’ve researched the company, your skills relevant to the role and describe why you best fit this role.

Cover letter objective 101: Your cover letter must entice the reader to read your resume.

If you are still unsure, please get in touch now.

We wish you all the best in your job search.

Careers Team @ ACECIS

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