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Dear Jobseeker: Do you think your cover letter is boring? This might help.


28 June 2019 at 4:16 pm
Maggie Coggan
Getting your cover letter right could set you up for nailing down a great job. We asked Lisa Morell, chief associate from NGO Recruitment, for her five hot tips on writing a letter that helps you stand out from the crowd. 


Maggie Coggan | 28 June 2019 at 4:16 pm


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Dear Jobseeker: Do you think your cover letter is boring? This might help.
28 June 2019 at 4:16 pm

Getting your cover letter right could set you up for nailing down a great job. We asked Lisa Morell, chief associate from NGO Recruitment, for her five hot tips on writing a letter that helps you stand out from the crowd. 

Don’t use the same letter for every job you’re applying for

This is the first thing you have to think about when starting out with your job application. Handing in a generic template-letter is one of the best ways you can guarantee your application ends up in the bin.  

“Use a new cover letter for every single application you make, don’t just regurgitate something from a template,” Morell says. 

The opening paragraph is your make or break

Telling your prospective employer in the first few sentences why you’re applying for the job, and what you think about the work of the organisation, is vital. 

“At the moment, I’m recruiting for an animal welfare organisation, and I’m getting some incredible cover letters from people that make it really clear straight away that they’re an animal activist,” she says. 

“They also have a really great understanding of the work that the organisation does and are really passionate about the cause.” 

Tell them why you’re good… in detail

Even if a job doesn’t ask for selection criteria, most of the time job ads will outline the skills required for the jobs. And if they aren’t asking for any of this, it’s still important to tell them what skills you can offer in specific detail.  

“Rather than just saying you’re organised and a creative person, you need to say, I have database experience in this area, and I have had success in this fundraising campaign,” Morell explains. 

Short and sweet is the answer

For Morell, two pages tops are all you need to get your point across in a cover letter. 

“Some people write 13 page cover letters and no employer is ever going to read that, so just keep it short and sweet,” she says. 

Don’t try and be tricky with who you’re sending your application into

Found the hiring manager’s email address? Unless the application actually says to send it directly to them, don’t do it. Instead of getting ahead of the pack, it could just mess up your chances of it even being read. 

“A lot of people think it’s really cute to find the email address of the hiring manager and send out directly,” she says.  

“But the problem is it doesn’t go into their recruitment tracking system and the applications might get lost. So make sure you apply the way they’ve asked you to apply.”   


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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