Writing a cover letter to a potential employer is a daunting task. And if you have to write it in your second language, in a foreign country, for a job that you might never have done before, it becomes even more overwhelming.
This is the challenge faced by many working holidaymakers in Australia.
To help you out, we at Backpacker Job Board have put together the ultimate guide to backpacker cover letters. We’ll look at the top tips for writing a cover letter to go with your resume, and we’ll also give you three awesome sample cover letters for free, written for popular backpacker jobs, that you can edit and make your own.
Ready to write the perfect cover letter? Then let’s go!
Top cover letter tips
Before we grab the pen and paper, we should first learn a few cover letter tips and tricks; the things to include, the things to avoid, and how you can elevate your letter above the rest.
1. Address it to a specific person
You might think that ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern’ sound professional, but often these salutations actually come across impersonal. It will usually take less than a minute to find out the name of the owner/manager/employer, and this small amount of effort can be incredibly valuable in getting your cover letter to stand out. Can’t find their name? Even better! You get the opportunity to make a quick phone call and introduce yourself in person, demonstrating your proactivity:
“Hi! I’m just about to send you a quick email regarding a work opportunity, and I wanted to check who I should address it to. Can I confirm the email address? And what is the name of the person who manages the inbox?”
2. Give specific dates
You might think that it’s in your best interests to keep certain information to yourself. But withholding certain things will only see them come out at a later – and usually far less convenient – date. You should be clear on when you are available for work, and advise the employer if certain dates of unavailability are set in stone. The employer will more than likely be used to hiring backpackers, and will understand your situation.
3. Describe your scenario
Why are you interested in this opportunity? What are your current circumstances? What’s your ideal length of stay? Are you on a first, second or third year visa? Let your employer know a little about your situation so that they can make a more informed decision as to whether it fits with what they’re looking for.
4. Demonstrate your knowledge, then fill any gaps
A key part of the job-hunting process is learning about a potential employer. This again helps to showcase how proactive you are, while also giving you an opportunity to clear up anything that you’re uncertain about. Take a close look at both the job post and the employer’s website, insert one or two things that you learned, and ask any questions that remain unanswered. Perhaps the accommodation situation is unclear, or you’re unsure what the day-to-day of the role will look like.
5. Outline what personal qualities you’ll bring to the job
This is your opportunity to highlight the best bits of your resume. If you’ve got specific experience that is relevant to the job at hand, be sure to say so. But even if you don’t – and often you won’t – there will always be skills or talents that will translate to this new role. Applying to be a fruit picker? Talk about your efficiency and attention to detail. Farm worker? Talk about your work ethic and can-do attitude. Au pair? Tell them how much you love kids, and all that you’ll be able to teach them. Try to use hard numbers where you can, as this provides objective proof of the value that you’ll bring to a position.
You should also outline what you can literally bring to the job too; things like a vehicle, tools, protective equipment and bedding.
6. Mention your qualifications
For example, in your applying for a construction role, mention you have your white card. Same goes for bar jobs (RSA certificate), au-pair jobs (WWC check, first aid certificates), coffee shop jobs (barista certificate).
7. Be professional and to the point
This is a simple one. The best cover letters, like the best resumes, are perfectly concise. Use the minimum amount of words necessary to get your point across, and always be professional.
8. Refer to references
Your resume should list a handful of people who can vouch for your employability, such as past colleagues, bosses or community figures. But if there’s a standout individual in these references – one that will sing your praises as passionately as Mariah Carey sings about Christmas – it’s worth mentioning them in your cover letter.
9. Don’t forget the rest
Don’t let the excitement of drafting the perfect cover letter see you forgetting the fundamentals. Be sure to attach your resume and include all relevant contact information.
Now it’s time to check out our free cover letter templates.