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How to write a convincing cover letter

Published on 15 August 2019·Latest update at 22 August 2019

One of the requirements for applying for an internship or job is to send a cover letter or motivation letter. At first, this can seem like an enormous task: what are you supposed to write? How are you going to formulate your motivation? How long should the letter be? This article discusses tips and tricks for writing a convincing cover letter, which will help you stand out among other applicants and create a bigger chance at being invited to this first job interview.


Purpose of a cover letter

A cover letter is meant to provide additional information about your resume and outline your motivation to apply in the first place. There is a difference between a motivation letter and a cover letter. The first one is usually used to outline your motivation to get enrolled in a university, a specific study program or volunteering work, for example. A cover letter is typically sent to a company for a job application and mostly answers the question: why are you suitable for this particular job? However, many people use the terms interchangeably and in many countries, a cover letter should state your motivation to work for a particular company as well.


Before writing

Before you start writing your cover letter, it is advisable to review the company’s website one more time, as well as the job offer. What information triggered you to send the application? Why? What are the requirements of the job offer? Can you match your skills or knowledge to the requirements? This way, you will be prepared to write the cover letter and it will show that you have put the effort in thinking about your cover letter.


Another tip related to doing your research is that you should always write an authentic cover letter for every single internship or job you apply to. At some point when applying for jobs and internships, you may feel like you are repeating yourself. After all, your knowledge and skills stay the same for every application. However, do not copy-paste your cover letter, but put the effort in your cover letter, to make you stand out from other applicants.


Finally, a cover letter should be one-page maximum. And finally, always proofread or let someone else read your letter. They may have comments and see spelling errors you did not see. 


Content of a cover letter

A cover letter should at least contain a salutation. If the name of the contact person is known, use it in your cover letter. Usually, this can be found somewhere in the job description. Otherwise, use a standard salutation.


Introduction 

The first paragraph is an introduction. You should state in this paragraph which job you are applying to, as well as where you found the job. This can be brief, or you can cite a small anecdote by using the story-telling technique. If you have already talked to someone from the company, or a friend works there, be sure to include their name and let them know: the recruiter will probably ask them about you.


Qualification for the job

In the next two paragraphs, it is time to convince the reader why you are qualified for the job. Remember to be specific and provide short examples. For example, if you are applying for a social media marketing internship, you could say something like: I did a course in social media marketing, where I learned how to optimize marketing through such channels. I applied this to my personal Instagram account, which currently has 1000 followers. 


Furthermore, think about what you have to offer and why you would like to work at that specific company. If you have a referral, say something like: " My friend X, who works at your company, regularly tells me about your business culture and is very enthusiastic about her colleagues who are always willing to help each other." Or, say something about the mission or general core business of the company, for example, you could write: " I have a particular interest for working at your company since your core business is IT and I have always been deeply interested in everything to do with programming. When I was twelve, I asked a Raspberry Pi for my birthday. I would like to work in a company with a core business I am passionate about."


Closing statement

In the closing statement, be sure to thank the reader for their time and being considered for the job. Express your wish to discuss the content of your letter further in real life and end with a proper salutation. 


With these tips, you should be able to properly structure your cover letter, as well as provide some insights on why you are suitable for the job or internship and get invited for a first job interview


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