You will need to apply in writing for most jobs for most jobs. This usually means preparing two items, a letter of application and your resume. If you are applying for a government job, you may need to provide responses to some selection criteria.
We have developed this guide to provide you with information to prepare a letter of application. To read the how to guide on building a resume, visit:
For ideas on how to present your resume if you have gaps in your work history, see:
Written applications generally are a key part of an employer’s recruitment process. Employers use recruitment processes to select who they should interview for a job by assessing skills, qualities, experience and qualifications. Some employers will also use recruitment processes to identify writing skills if these are important to the job.
- ensure you research the employer and the position you are applying for
- identify skills, attributes, knowledge, experience and qualifications which will appeal to the employer
Many employers are very busy, so the cover letter needs to be concise.
What to include
- Customise your cover letter so it is relevant to the employer and the job.
- Focus on what the employer wants to know, not what you want from them.
- Try to convince them that you can do the job, that you’ll do a great job, you’ll fit in and be an asset to their organisation.
- Make sure you include your contact details.
- Keep your letter no longer than one page.
Explain the purpose of your letter in the opening paragraph. Mention the position you are applying for and where you heard about it or where it was advertised.
In the next paragraph, show you can do the job and do it well. You should summarise your qualifications, skills, abilities and experience. State what makes you perfect for the job advertised.
Next, state that you are keen to work for the company and why. Try to give some information about what type of person you are. Keep in mind what you know about the employer. Mention your personal qualities which you think they are looking for.
Before finishing, thank them for taking the time to review your application. Also mention any attachments including your resume and any work examples.
Check your application before sending it. Ask someone else to check it for mistakes. Ensure that you have read the job advertisement and any other information. Check if the employer asked you to send several copies of your application. Some employers may want you to address specific selection criteria.
You should also complete the following check:
- Don’t send too much. Employers are very busy and will not want information they haven’t asked for.
- Send copies of your original documents. If the employer has requested copies of certificates and other formal documents, only send copies. You can show them the originals at your interview, if required.
Ensure your application is professionally presented as employers pride themselves on their professionalism. They are looking at your application to ensure that you share their values. For example:
- type your application, unless they specify for you to write it
- use clean A4 paper
- don’t make manual corrections, such as crossing something out or using correction fluid
- make sure it is easy to read. The print must be clear. There should be spaces between paragraphs. Use a suitable font size and appropriate margins. The print shouldn’t start too close to the top of the page or go too close to the edges or bottom of the page
- Use an A4 envelope so that you don't have to fold your application
- use a standard font, nothing too fancy
- tailor your application to the job you are applying for. If you are applying for a creative industry job, it might be appropriate to show your creativity. For most jobs, concentrate on making the application clear, simple and to the point.
- number the pages in the application
- include your name in the header or footer of each page in case they become separated
- if posting your application make sure you send it in plenty of time, otherwise try and drop it off in person.
For most government jobs you will need to provide responses to selection criteria. Check out the following information:
See our Related Links for more relevant information on the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations web site.