You want to be selected for an interview for your new job. You can do that with a great cover letter. Read on and learn how to write it.
Many people underestimate how important language is in a job application letter. A language error can mean the difference between getting a job or not – or even between being invited for an interview or not.
Take yourself seriously
If you send an application letter with language errors, it creates a certain expectation. A negative one, in this case. Your application letter is something that you spend a lot of time and attention on, if all goes well. If, with all that time and attention, you cannot deliver an error-free letter, then your possible future boss will not be eager to have you. Because what if you are less focused on your thoughts one day? Will you make even more careless mistakes?
Language in non-linguistic professions
Are you applying for a position in construction, or are you going for another job that requires little or no written language skills? You might then think that it is not necessary to send your application letter without errors. The opposite is true. As mentioned, you want to be taken seriously. If you then hand in a letter that contains many language errors, someone is more likely to choose a letter that is error-free. So you miss out on a job!
Ask for help
Is your language use very poor? Then have your letter checked by someone who knows about it. Then try to look at the changes that person makes to your letter. You learn from that!
Salutation and closing
If you start your letter with ‘Dear’, then end the letter with ‘Yours sincerely’. If you start the letter with ‘Dear’, you can end the letter with ‘Kind regards’. Starting with “Dear” and then ending with “Kind regards” is often done, but is not appropriate. After all, the beginning and end of the letter must match each other.
Madam or gentleman?
Sometimes you don’t know who is going to read your letter. Before you use a salutation in such a case, first read more about the company. Are there more women or more men active? In other words: what are the chances that you will send your letter to a man or a woman? If you are more likely to address a woman, start with ‘ma’am/sir’. If you are more likely to address a man, start with ‘sir/madam’. It really is the little things that matter!
Short and sweet
Imagine reading job applications all day long. Would you prefer a short, clear letter or a long, extensive one?
Leave out your resume information
The information from your resume is included in your resume. Leave this there too. You do not have to explain in detail in your application letter what people can already read in your CV. See your application letter as a personal reinforcement of your curriculum vitae. So you introduce yourself in your letter, and possibly explain something that is on your CV. However, listing all the experience and/or education on your resume will not appear professional and businesslike.
If you want your application letter to stand out, surprise! You do this with your original opening sentence.
In the … of [date] I read your vacancy…
An opening sentence is very important. It’s a first impression that you can’t undo. Officially, you should mention where you found the vacancy in this sentence. Does the employer benefit from this? No, unless, for example, you want to work for the newspaper and you have read the vacancy in the newspaper. This way your employer knows that you read their newspaper anyway and that can be an advantage. Nowadays, however, vacancies are often posted and found on the Internet. It adds nothing to mention this. Well, it’s nice that you’re on the internet, but… isn’t that everyone?
Entertain the reader
A good opening sentence or even a good first paragraph immediately grabs a reader. Entertain the reader and turn it into a (short!) story. As a child I always walked past Kokos ice cream stall. If I had saved enough pocket money, I would buy an ice cream. There was one girl behind the counter who was always smiling and made me want to come back even more. Now that I’m older, I would like to be that nice employee for whom customers come back. I definitely think I have it in me. You can apply your story to any industry. Do you want to become a marketer? Then explain how you as a customer are tempted to buy extras and how you have delved deeper into why this is the case. Then you explain why you want to work at this company (because they always convince you so well and you have additional ideas to strengthen this). In short: let your letter live, put a story in it.
Don’t send a letter, but…
… a video
Introduce yourself through a video. Just make sure this looks professional. You stand out because of a video and someone immediately has a good impression of you.
Apply via Twitter, why not? Make sure your Twitter profile looks great (if necessary, read the special about social media first) and then respond to vacancies from companies.
… a website
Create a website. This shows why you are so suitable for your dream job. You then send the website with your CV.
Put yourself in the reader’s shoes
What would you like to hear from someone who came to apply for a job? What would appeal to you in a letter? Put yourself in the shoes of the person who will read your letter and discover what could be improved in your application letter.