A cover letter is often required during recruitment processes to clarify certain points, e.g. why the application is sent, outlining why the applicant is the ideally suited to the job, how the applicant sees future cooperation.
A cover letter should serve as a pre-screen for a possible interview. This is the place to address potential recruitment questions and persuade the recruiter to devote a moment to read your professional CV. These two documents have a different purpose. It is important to acquaint oneself with the some basic guidelines for writing a good cover letter. We have prepared a set of the most important issues (also available in
a downloadable form) which have to be considered while preparing your ideal cover letter.
What should be in a cover letter?
• Use the same font and colour scheme as for the CV – it will create the impression of integrity and organisation.
• If it is possible, find out who the recruiter is. Rreferring to him or her by name shows that you have put effort into this application and researched the company. This is what a serious applicant would be expected to do. It is a good idea to point out you are aware of their current research area (for academic positions) or subfield of business activity (for company positions). This serves to demonstrate you clearly know what you are applying for and who you want to work with.
• Divide your letter into paragraphs – the first one explaining your motivation to apply, the second with your career info, the third with soft skills, the fourth with an encouragement to contact you. As long as the letter is not too long (1 page max) applicants may wish to insert additional text after the second paragraph to show accomplishments. If sending letters by post or uploading them remember to sign your cover letter!
• Express your confidence – the employer has to see you are tailor-made for the job and will quickly find your feet in a new environment.
• If you send your application via e-mail, use the .pdf format. It’s non-editable so all the formatting will stay in place. MS Word versions may be displayed in a different way (less perfect) on other computers.
What should not be in a cover letter?
• Don’t repeat the CV. The aim of a cover letter is to convince the recruiter about your suitability for the position. Give the most interesting and relevant information, sketch your great potential, include info you cannot put in
a CV, but indicate that your CV contains further details.
• Don’t write a cover letter longer than a standard page. Recruiters often receive dozens or hundreds of applications, so they don’t have the time to read every word. What you need to do is write a concise advertisement about yourself.
• Don’t get personal, but write in person. Recruiters at this stage are not interested in your private life, so focus on your strengths and experience. It is better to write your own letter – templates are easily recognisable and frequently of poor quality.
• Don’t write badly about your current employer. It is fine to say that you search for a more satisfying or challenging occupation, but avoid saying unpleasant things about your current job.
• Don’t state conditions. You should express hope or anticipation of contact enabling you to negotiate terms later on, but a cover letter is too early for that!
Writing a cover letter is a great challenge – people often find it difficult to achieve the golden mean of self-confidence without being under or overconfident. Our CV Man service has been established to help you upgrade your document and and where appropriate localise it to the country where your potential job is based. We offer translation and proofreading services performed by native speakers of a variety of languages. This, combined with our experience of translating and proofreading CV’s and cover letter, we can guarantee the highest quality and perfect localisation of your application documents. If you would like further information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.