Jobs at UWA

Covering letter

Further information

Your written application

The covering letter should outline your reasons for applying and demonstrate broadly how you meet the requirements of the position.

It is normally the first thing the selection panel will read. It is important that the covering letter looks good, sounds positive and enthusiastic, and attracts the reader's attention. It is also one way of demonstrating your written communication skills.

  1. What to include
  2. Typed or handwritten
  3. Positive tone
  4. Examples

What to include

It is recommended that you include the following information in your covering letter:

  • Your address
  • Date of your application
  • Title and reference number of the position for which you're applying
  • Indication of what is included in your application; for example, résumé, statement addressing the selection criteria (optional), written references (optional), and the like.
  • Statement of why you are interested in the position and what particularly attracts you about the job, the work area.
  • One or more paragraphs outlining broadly how you meet the requirements of the position and selection criteria. This may include highlighting the most relevant skills or abilities you can bring to the position, your familiarity with the workplace/job requirements, any relevant personal qualities or attributes, and the benefits of employing you.
  • Optional - examples of how you meet one or more of the selection criteria. See Addressing the selection criteria for more information.
  • How and when you can be contacted if required to attend an interview.

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Typed or handwritten

There are different views about whether the covering letter should be typed or handwritten.

In general a typed letter looks better presented, neater and easier to read, so if you have access to a computer, it is probably a good idea to provide a typed covering letter.

If you do decide to produce a handwritten letter, make sure it is legible, neat and easy to read.

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Positive tone

All of your written application needs to sound positive and enthusiastic. This is particularly important with your covering letter, since this is the first document a selection panel will read. How you phrase things and the words you use can convey either a positive or a negative message to the selection panel.

Try to avoid saying what you can't do; avoid phrases such as:

  • 'I don't have any experience in ....'
  • 'My knowledge of .... is limited'

or words such as:

  • unfortunately
  • only
  • quite.

Use of such words and phrases may convey a negative message to the selection panel that you either do not have the necessary skills and experience, or that you lack self-confidence.

Instead, focus on positive statements, such as:

  • 'I have experience in ....'
  • 'My knowledge of .... includes ....'

and words such as:

  • very
  • several
  • many
  • good/excellent.

Such positive words and phrases convey to the selection panel that you do have the skills and experience, and that you have confidence in your own abilities.

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If possible, keep your covering letter to a single page. Too much information, especially if it is not relevant to the job, may detract from the letter. Your statement addressing the selection criteria is the place to give more detailed information about yourself and your ability to do the job.

The examples of covering letters include:

  • A pro-forma letter highlighting the types of information that could be included in a letter
  • how a covering letter for a particular University vacancy might look.
  • a cover letter example for an Administrative Assistant role.

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