Four tips to make an impact with your Cover Letter
Covering letters are a statement about your motivation and give recruiters important evidence about your personal reasons as to why you are applying for the role. Moreover, it gives a first insight as to whether you bring the relevant qualification for the job. Describing your motivation adequately and your experience relevantly is therefore crucial. Here are our 4 most valuable tips to create relevant and interesting covering letters.
1 Be original
Covering letters should explain your motivation to work in a certain job for a specific company and your qualifications for this job. If you can replace the name of the company for any other and your covering letter remains exactly the same, you have not tailored it to that company well enough and will be unlikely to succeed. Do some research and find something about the position or company that you can relate to directly in your letter.
2 Include a clear structure
The letter should cover the following three parts:
- About you - What you offer and examples of achievements to demonstrate your credentials
- About the job - Why does it appeal to you? What do you understand about it? How you describe your experience, reveals a lot about how you understand the job. Do you know what you are talking about?
- About the company - What attracts you to them? Why are they succeeding as a business and why is that appealing
3 Be Precise
- Give examples to quantify your skills (e.g., “I developed excellent communication skills by working directly with clients on a daily basis to analyse their financial statements.”)
- Show achievement (e.g., “I created a report for my manager and he implemented the new recommendations.”)
- Show leadership through your extracurricular activity (e.g., captain of the football team, managed a team of four on a humanitarian expedition.) – Attention: You don’t mention these activities in a covering letter to a German company.
- Tailor your letter to highlight skills they ask for in their job description.
- Do not write a covering letter that is longer than one page. You can consider this a rule!
- Proofread your covering letter to ensure that there are no spelling mistakes. Once you have proofread it, proofread it again!
- Make sure that you are sending the letter to the right company! Believe it or not: 30% of all covering letters are addressed to the wrong company.
- Avoid writing generic sentences that could apply to any company (e.g. “I want to be a Consultant because it will help give me a diverse career.”)
- Be detailed, but not to the point where you lose relevancy. A simple introduction and closing allows more room for the details of your letter. You want to use this space to tell them about you and to bring your CV to life.
4 Show Insight
- Be sure to show an understanding of the industry (e.g., “I want to work in strategic marketing after my internship at P&G. While there, I enjoyed taking a step back and researching competitors, and then formulating a plan to help the promotion to a target audience.”)
- Say why a particular job or industry is important to you (e.g., “I want to work in a Consultancy because I want to use my experience in the pharmaceutical industry and be able to apply this knowledge to solving client problems.”)
Country specifics in writing covering letters
Writing a covering letter for the UK market
In the UK, a covering letter is a way of improving your application and selling your experience. It should not be generic - you need to spend time tailoring your letter as it demonstrates to the company your desire to work for them.
By adding some research on the company, you also demonstrate your commercial awareness, which is not something that you can show in your CV. This is vital for all companies - you must show that you understand their market and show your motivation for applying.
Extracurricular examples, as well as work experience and internships, are welcomed by employers. As with your CV, they want to see that you have achieved beyond what was expected of you.
The beginning: Dear Sir/Madam
- If you know the person’s name or you have met them = ‘Yours sincerely’
- If you do not know the person = ‘Yours faithfully’
Writing a covering letter for the German and Spanish market
Covering letters are viewed the same way in Germany and Spain as they are in the UK: as a way to improve your application and to give employers insight on your motivation. It should explain why you want to work with this company and in this specific position. It should also give some idea about your future career plans and how this position is compatible with them.
The beginning in German:
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, (or name the contact in question)
The beginning in Spanish:
Estimados señores y señoras:
The end in German:
„I’m available for an interview at any time” would be “Für ein Interview stehe ich jederzeit zur Verfügung.”
Als closing, you can use: “Mit freundlichen Grüßen” or “Freundliche Grüße”. If you have talked to them before (e.g., at a fair or in a casual atmosphere), you may also write “Herzliche Grüße”.
The end in Spanish:
„I’m available for an interview at any time” would be “Espero y me encantaria tener la oportunidad de ser invitado a una charla personal.”
As closing, you can use: „Saludos cordials”
Writing a Covering Letter for the Italian market
In Italy, a cover letter is not very common, so precisely for this reason it’s a way to be recognized and appreciated. For content and structure, just follow the tips given for the UK and Germany. We generally open with “Gentile dott./dott.ssa”, even if we do not know the title of the person reading. We never use sig/sig.ra.
"What makes a good covering letter?"
"The cover letter should be as concise as possible, stating a short presentation about yourself, interest in the company, why you are a good fit and the period during which you are available."
"A great application is one which demonstrates clearly why a candidate is both interested and suitable for the position they have applied to. I would strongly advise students to thoroughly research the company and role they are interested in before making an application to ensure they can tailor their CV and application accordingly to bring out their most relevant experience."
"Tell us who you are - a CV tells a company what he or she has done, but it does not tell me who she or he is."
"We hire motivated graduates and talents who have the clear goal of working in consulting and who combine their skills with passion and team spirit. Make sure your application clearly states, why you want to become a part of BearingPoint and why you are the ideal candidate for your desired position. Your application should include all relevant documents, be clearly structured and without mistakes. Focus on what is important and significant for the position."
"Most important for us is to be able to understand your passion for consulting and why you want to become a member of our Accenture Community. Present yourself! What are your goals and how do you think they will match with ours?"
“Good applications are always thoroughly complete and without errors. What is important is that, at a first glance, it is clear what exactly you are applying for and what knowledge and experience you already have.”
“Before you submit your application, ask yourself these questions: Does my resume address the company’s needs? Do my cover letter and resume complement each other? We recommend that you let some good friends review your application documents. They often have a different perspective and might be able to suggest an improvement that makes all the difference.”
"Most important for us is to be able to understand your passion for consulting and why you want to become part of Bayer Business Consulting. What are your goals and how do you think they will match with ours? Help us to understand why you are the best candidate for the position in making your motivation and special skills transparent for our recruiters. Please keep CV and cover letter short and simple, one page is highly sufficient."