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Written by Paul DruryPaul Drury

How to write a cover letter: NZ tips & examples

20 min read
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At cvapp.nz, we know writing cover letters isn't always easy. In fact, cover letter writing can be downright intimidating – that’s why we’re here to help! 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through our top tips and tricks for creating a killer cover letter that will make hiring managers and potential employers excited to learn more about you. 

Regardless of whether you're applying for a graduate job or an executive position, we'll cover everything you need to know, including:

  • How to effectively write a cover letter
  • Why cover letters are so important
  • Tips on crafting an effective opening
  • Guidance for writing your cover letter
  • How to wrap things up in a compelling way
  • Common cover letter mistakes to avoid

Why do we need a cover letter, anyway?

Writing a cover letter allows job seekers to showcase their unique professional backgrounds and express their passion for the position they are applying for. Unlike CVs, which are limited by bullet points and standardised formatting, cover letters give candidates the freedom to present themselves in their own words.

What sets great cover letters apart is how well they convey the "why" behind the candidate's application. A great cover letter can give hiring managers and potential employers insight into the motivations, values, and aspirations that drive a candidate's career path. By sharing their story in a free-flowing format, applicants can capture the attention of a hiring manager and demonstrate why they are the perfect fit for the job. 

At cvapp.nz, we’ve helped millions of professionals land their dream job roles and find their way to professional success. We’ve created this guide to help you create an effective, engaging cover letter – let’s get started!

How to format an effective cover letter:

Formatting plays a critical role in the development of writing a great cover letter. A well-structured cover letter includes different sections, each serving a specific purpose:

  • Header: This section contains your contact information, such as your name, phone number, and email address. It may also include the date and the employer's contact details. The header ensures that your cover letter looks professional and provides an easy reference for the hiring manager to reach out to you.
  • Greeting: Also known as the salutation, the greeting directly addresses the hiring manager or the relevant party who will be reading your cover letter. Whenever possible, use the name of the person (e.g., Dear Ms. Kawiti). If you're unable to find a name, a general greeting like "Dear Hiring Manager" is a suitable alternative.
  • Introduction: The introductory paragraph is your first chance to grab the reader's attention. Here, you briefly explain who you are, the position you are applying for, and how you learned about the opportunity. It should be engaging and concise, setting the tone for the rest of the letter.
  • Body Paragraphs: Typically one to two paragraphs, this section is where you dive deeper into your qualifications, experiences, and skills that make you the right fit for the job. Link your abilities to the job description, providing concrete examples of how you've achieved success in previous roles. Your goal here is to illustrate your value and potential contribution to the potential employer.
  • Conclusion: Your closing paragraph should summarise your interest in the position and reiterate why you would be a great fit. It's also the best place to thank the employer for considering your application and to include a call-to-action statement, such as expressing your desire to discuss your application in greater detail in an interview. Finally, sign off professionally with a closing such as "Sincerely,” "Best regards," or “Ngā mihi nui,” followed by your full name.

Remember, each part of your cover letter should be crafted to support the main objective: convincing the employer that you are an ideal candidate worth interviewing. We’ll explore each of these sections and help you put your best foot forward.

Cover letters are your professional secret weapon

A well-crafted cover letter can be a valuable addition to a job application, particularly when job seekers are facing tight competition and competing with other applicants for the role. 

While a CV can concisely summarise an applicant's qualifications and experience, a cover letter can provide more comprehensive context to the applicant's background, highlight their unique strengths, and allow them to connect personally with the hiring manager. It's definitely worth taking the time to include a cover letter whenever possible unless it's explicitly discouraged in the job description. Think of cover letters as your professional secret weapon!

How do I write a cover letter?

To start writing your cover letter, you'll need three key components: the header, greeting, and introduction, each of which plays a unique role. In this guide, we'll explore how to write a cover letter that both engages and impresses employers.

If you're feeling daunted by a blank page, don't worry: you're not alone! When it comes to starting a cover letter, you might be wondering: What should I include in the header section? How should I introduce myself in the greeting? What details should I touch on in the introduction? What tone should I strike? And how do I ensure it matches the job description?

We’ll address all of these questions and more, so you can nail that cover letter and showcase your skills and experience in the best light. With our cvapp.nz cover letters and guides, we’ll help you make the most memorable impression possible. 

Start off strong with an impressive cover letter header

It's important to make it easy for potential employers to invite you for an interview. To do that, you'll want to include essential contact information in the header of your cover letter, including your full name, phone number, email, and even your LinkedIn profile if requested or appropriate. 

The header can create an impression of professionalism and ease for the reader as they take in the message of your letter. So don't overlook these small details that can make a big difference!

Header Example

Samuel Te Aho

[email protected]

3404 Rangiriri Ave 

Hamilton 3206

December 11, 2023

Mr. Rob Manihera 

Kirkiriroa Krafts 

82 Ruru Pl 

Hamilton 3206


Our quick guide to greetings

To begin with, it’s important to understand that the way you start your letter sets the tone for the entire cover letter. Therefore, it's essential to be mindful of the recipient's expectations and preferences. If you are applying for a job and addressing an individual, you can use a greeting like "Dear Mr. Smith" to show respect and personalise the letter. 

On the other hand, if you are unsure of who the specific recipient is, you can use "Dear Hiring Team" or "Dear Company X" to stay professional while addressing the company as a whole.

When crafting a greeting, you should consider the culture of the company and try to adapt your tone accordingly. For example, some businesses may appreciate a more formal tone, while others may appreciate a more casual approach. You can gather some clues about the culture of the company by visiting their website or social media profiles and taking note of the language and tone they use to communicate with their audience.

Adapting your greeting to match the tone of voice and culture of the employer is a great way to create a good first impression. Taking the time to personalise your message shows that you did your research and are genuinely interested in the role you are applying for!

Writing a cover letter introduction

After the greeting, the first paragraph is where the real work begins. Is your cover letter introduction up to the task of competing for this job? Capture the attention of potential employers with a brief yet intriguing hook that leaves them wanting more. Amp up their interest by highlighting a noteworthy achievement with an impressive figure, dropping the name of a prestigious employer, or mentioning a well-deserved accolade. 

Most importantly, ensure that your introduction is relevant to the position you're after. You want to make them eager to read further. While your career is much more than just a single sentence, it's essential to kick things off with an impactful opener that sets the tone for your entire application. 

The cover letter's opening paragraph should leave the employer wanting to hear more, whether by revealing a personal anecdote, showcasing your experience, or recounting a game-changing contribution. Get creative! 

Introduction & Greeting Customisable Example

Tēnā koe, Mr. Manihera

After a rewarding eleven-year journey in the retail industry, I am thrilled to apply for the sales assistant position at Kirikiroa Krafts. With a genuine enthusiasm for connecting with others, resolving challenges, and maximising efficiency, I strongly believe that my extensive sales experience and passion for providing customers with top-notch customer service can make a significant impact on Kirikiroa Krafts' success. I’d love the opportunity to help propel Kirikiroa Krafts to new heights. 


Here’s another great cover letter introduction from our academic cover letter example. Notice how the example below has been customised to align with the job description and incorporates relevant keywords. 

It provides essential information, including the candidate's present title and the position they are seeking, as well as their primary reason for applying to the job:


“Becoming a part-time MBA lecturer at Massey University is an idea that invigorates, energises and enthuses me. After six remarkable years of teaching Commercial Law and Information Systems at The University of Auckland, I am now interested in consolidating my career in academia at another fantastic institution. In addition to many years of teaching at The University of Auckland, I have recently published a series of research papers that investigates how culture impacts business in a New Zealand context. It has been one of my most rewarding academic endeavours to date.”


Cover letter body paragraphs

When crafting the body paragraphs of your cover letter, it's essential to focus on the role requirements and convey how your experience makes you an excellent fit for the position. To do this, you'll need to be specific and use examples that demonstrate your skills and accomplishments. Using numbers, stats, and figures is the best way to do this. Remember to be confident and assertive but also concise and to-the-point.

To showcase your credentials effectively, bullet points can be a powerful tool, allowing you to highlight your achievements and skills in an organised and easily digestible way. Additionally, using bold fonts strategically can draw attention to essential sections of your cover letter and make it easier for potential employers to navigate. 

We have some great examples of how to achieve this with our cvapp.nz cover letter templates – check them out in our cover letter builder! 

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that walls of text can be overwhelming, so it's vital to break your cover letter up into shorter paragraphs and use white space effectively. 

Remember, your main goal is to make a great impression and convince potential employers that you're the best candidate for the job. So, choose your words and examples carefully and tailor your cover letter for each application.

First Body Paragraph Customisable Example

I am currently studying at the University of Canterbury and pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Commerce. I'd love to gain hands-on, practical experience in the retail industry, and I believe that a part-time position at Mallory's Designs aligns perfectly with my schedule, allowing me to balance my commitment to education while applying my knowledge in a real-world setting.  

Second Body Paragraph Customisable Example

Throughout my academic journey, I have developed a strong understanding of business principles and their practical application in the retail sector. I have also gained valuable insights into consumer behaviour, marketing strategies, and inventory management. I believe that these skills, combined with my enthusiasm for creating exceptional customer experiences, would make me a perfect fit for the Retail Assistant role at Mallory's Designs.  


Spotlight your professional skills 

A successful cover letter should focus on your accomplishments rather than just listing your duties and responsibilities. 

To make your accomplishments stand out, it's essential to choose the most relevant stories to tell and elaborate on them during the interview. You should also provide context and a timeline for your achievements, highlighting the specific tasks you completed and the outcomes that resulted from them.

Using powerful action verbs to demonstrate your skills can also be a critical tool in crafting an impactful cover letter. To structure your accomplishments effectively, you might consider breaking them down into three parts: the action verb, the specific task you completed, and the quantifiable outcome for your company.

Professional tip

Your cover letter should include a wide range of skills, including any relevant hard skills, interpersonal skills and technical skills. Be sure to review the job description thoroughly so you know what type of skills employers are looking for!

Remember: When writing a cover letter, it's essential to focus on your achievements, highlight your skills using powerful action verbs, and choose only the most relevant accomplishments to share. 

With these tips in mind and our cvapp.nz tools and resources, you'll be sure to craft a persuasive cover letter that sets you apart from other candidates. Check out our retail cover letter example for more inspiration:

Third Body Paragraph Customisable Example

Furthermore, I have strong communication and interpersonal skills, which enable me to connect with customers effectively. All of my previous job roles, as outlined in my CV, have been in the retail sector, and I genuinely enjoy helping others. I thrive in team-oriented environments, and I'm a quick learner who is eager to contribute and grow within a dynamic retail setting. Mallory's Designs has built a solid reputation in the Timaru community for its innovative and high-quality products, and I am inspired by the company's commitment to providing exceptional customer service. 


Closing your cover letter with an effective conclusion

Your conclusion is just as important as the introduction and the middle paragraphs, as it contains your call-to-action. Rather than ending on a dull note, be sure to put thought into how you end your cover letter. 

It’s important to get the tone right to leave a positive impression on the hiring manager. Consider how you want the hiring manager to feel after reading your cover letter, and don't be afraid to express your excitement and enthusiasm about the possibility of an interview.

When it comes to closings and sign-offs, there are other options besides "sincerely" or "best regards". It's important to choose a closing that fits the tone and characteristics you’ve highlighted in your application. 

Consider describing how your personal characteristics align with the role you're applying for, such as being a committed team player or a meticulous planner. Try painting a picture of what it's like to work with you to show off your personal approach and compassion. 

Remember that your conclusion is your final chance to showcase your personal characteristics and leave a lasting impression on potential employers. Keep it polite, upbeat and professional – and you’re ready to export your files and start sharing your cover letter with the world!

Conclusion Customisable Example

I hope to speak with you soon and that you enjoy my media portfolio. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to let me know. Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope to become an intern with Two River Media Group and demonstrate the power of creative ideas with your team. 

Ngā mihi, 

Maui Alexander


Key takeaways

Here at cvapp.nz, we want to make the job search process as easy as possible. With over 50 cover letter examples and an easy-to-use cover letter builder, we’re passionate about providing Kiwi professionals with the tools and resources to help make their applications stand out from the crowd. We want our users to have the best chance of landing their dream job with polished, professional CVs and cover letters. 

Our team of career experts have curated a wide range of professional tips and helpful articles that can guide you through the job search process and make sure you're presenting yourself in the best possible light. We understand that the job search can be overwhelming, and we're here to help you every step of the way. 

Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out in your career, Cvapp.nz has everything you need to put your best foot forward and make an excellent impression with employers. So what are you waiting for? Start creating your standout cover letter today and unlock your next professional chapter.

Wishing you the very best of luck!

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