How to write a cover letter and response to core capabilities

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    When you apply for a job with us, we always ask for a resume/CV. We will also ask you to include a cover letter or a response to core capabilities.

    While these both address the role description’s “About you” section, they are different.

    What’s the difference between a cover letter and a response to core capabilities?

    A cover letter is a letter of 1–2 pages telling us about your strengths and skills and why you want to work for us. A response to core capabilities is a written statement (maximum 2 pages) that gives specific examples that prove you have done, and can do, what is needed for the job, as described in the core capabilities.

    What is a cover letter?

    A cover letter is addressed to us saying what skills you have and why you are the best person for the role.

    Cover letter structure:

    • Greet us. Start with “Dear xxx” and use the name of the contact person provided. If you don’t know their name, say “Dear employer”.
    • Grab our attention. Tell us the position you’re applying for and your biggest strength. (1 paragraph)
    • Get us hooked. Refer to the role description’s ‘About me’ section and provide short examples of job duties and achievements that relate to the job you are applying for. (1–2 paragraphs)
    • Why us? We know Legal Aid Queensland is a great place to work. Have a look at our website and tell us why you would like to work for us. (1 paragraph)
    • Big finish. This is your last chance to sell yourself. Tell us why you are the right person for the job one more time. Thank us for considering your application and let us know you would like the chance to be interviewed for the role.

    Cover letter tips

    • Make it look professional. Use a font and size that is easy to read.
    • Check your spelling. Ask someone to proofread it for you.
    • Stick to the length we ask for (usually 1–2 pages).
    • Don’t use headings in a cover letter.
    • Read more about writing cover letters.

    What is a response to core capabilities?

    The core capabilities are the dot points in the role description's 'About you' section. These are sometimes called selection criteria. Responding to the core capabilities means proving that you have the skills, experience and knowledge or qualifications to do the job.

    To write your response, copy and paste the core capabilities into a Word document. Use each core capability as a heading and give an example for each of them about how you have done this in a previous role. When you write your response, make sure you use the STAR method.

    STAR stands for:

    • Situation: Describe the situation or problem you had.
    • Task: Describe the task, project or outcome you needed to complete.
    • Action: Describe what you did and how you did it.
    • Result: Tell us the results of these actions.

    Tips for responding to core capabilities

    • Give your best STAR examples.
    • Focus on your actions and outcomes.
    • Address all core capabilities. There are usually 4–5. Use one example for each.
    • Don't repeat your resume. Give specific examples.
    • Read more about responding to selection criteria.

    Still have questions?

    If you have questions about the application process, call the contact person listed in the role description.

    Good luck in applying for a role with Legal Aid Queensland!

    Last updated 2 February 2023