Traditional application guides tend to insist that the cover letter is the main feature of an application. Today, some recruiters actually focus more on the résumé. You should nonetheless put great care into the cover letter, too. Phrase it clearly and present yourself convincingly. Much like the rest of your application, it is essentially the first sample of your work that your future employer will see.Use active sentences and avoid excessive use of the perfect tense and words that signal uncertainty, such as “believe,” “think,” “wish” “would.” If you are not fully convinced that you are the right person for the job, how are you going to convince the recruiter? When you submit an application on paper, the cover letter must be placed loosely on top of the application folder, not inside it!
Your cover letter should never be longer than one page, and it is better not to cram too much text into it. It should contain your own address and that of the recipient. The subject line (WITHOUT the word “subject” in it!) announces your application, and you may want to include a list of annexes, such as certificates or transcripts of grades, at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, you can replace this list with a directory of annexes (if you have more than 10) or leave it out entirely.
Your cover letter should consist of around 6 concise sentences. Ideally, you will want to address the recipient of your application directly rather than starting your letter with “Dear Sir or Madam”, as this can come across as impersonal and generic. A reference to the vacancy advert or the pleasant phone call with the recipient or their colleague XY makes for a great start.
Before you start writing, ask yourself:
- Why are you applying? Why this company?
- What do you bring to the table?
- What is your current career position?
- What are your goals?
- What (specialist) skills do you have?
- What soft skills make you who you are?
Bear the following guiding principles in mind:
- Apply for one specific position with one specific company.
- Show an interest in the company.
- Mention the requirements of the job advert.
- Do not use standard phrases and do not send the same application to multiple recipients.
- Avoid typos.
Here's another tip:
Write your cover letter after preparing all other documents and use the letter to underscore the entire application. This makes your letter an introduction to your application pack and it also provides a useful summary. This approach also ensures that your cover letter consists of the essential aspects of your application. Legally, your certificates and other documents remain your property, but the cover letter becomes the property of the recipient.