Applying for a government job is a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. It’s sometimes difficult to work out how to fit the pieces together to create the right picture. Many organizations require you to complete a Cover Form or Application Form, so do you need to supply a cover letter as well?
YES, you do!
This is because a cover letter provides another opportunity to ‘sell’ yourself. It provides the chance to highlight your achievements and show the employer how your experience and skills can help them to achieve their goals.
Here’s an easy step-by-step guide for writing a cover letter for a role that includes selection criteria:
Put the job title and vacancy reference number under the date in bold, e.g. Re position: Customer Service Officer (A03) VRN: 335/06.
Find out the name of the person who will be reading your application and personally address your letter, checking that you have the correct spelling and title. (If you don’t know the person’s name, use ‘Good morning’ as the greeting rather than the deadly dull ‘Dear Sir or Madam’.)
In the first paragraph state where and when you saw the advertisement, the reason for the letter and what you are including in your application. e.g. I wish to apply for the <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>position of ‘Customer Service Officer’ as advertised on the Careerone website on 25 August 2009.
In the second paragraph, state what you are including in your application. e.g. To support my application, I have <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>included my responses to the selection criteria, a copy of my résumé and three referees who can vouch for my work performance.
In the third paragraph, refer to your qualifications, skills and experience to explain how you match the requirements of the <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>position. e.g. I hold a Diploma of Frontline Management and have five years’ experience in customer service roles.
In this paragraph, include a few of your key achievements and use a quote from ‘secret sales documents like appraisals and written references to build credibility and ‘sell’ your claims. e.g. I am confident that I have the skills and experience to be an asset in this role. In my last appraisal, my manager states: ‘Mary has built strong relationships with our clients, resulting in a 43% increase in sales.’
Finish with a strong close, as if you expect to be selected for an interview. e.g. I look forward to discussing this <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>position with you in an interview.
For hard copy applications, personally sign your letter and type your name below your signature. For online applications, you can use a different font to indicate you’ve signed your letter or use a digital signature.
Add ‘enc.’ at the bottom of your letter. This means ‘enclosure’ and is used if you are adding other documentation such as a résumé and selection criteria statement.
Proofread for errors in spelling, grammar, typos, phone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses, job titles, and so on. Your application must be 100% error- free.
Keep the letter to one page in length.
Dawn Richards is a popular guest speaker at Careers Expos and is the author of best-selling career books, ‘Selection Criteria Toolkit’, ‘Get That Government Job’ and ‘From Fired to Hired’. She uses her background in marketing to teach applicants how to sell themselves in their applications and at the interview. For free articles on all aspects of careers, visit http://www.smartstartmarketing.com.au.