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What should you put in a cover letter? What should you avoid?
A good CV is not the only way to convince an employer to give you an opportunity to interview. The cover letter is just as important as it gives you the chance to explain why you are the right candidate for the job.
Here are the dos and don’ts with regards to writing a cover letter.
Collect as much information about the company as you can before applying. Call them to ask to whom you can address your letter to. Tailor the cover letter as much as possible to the information you have acquired.
- Make your cover letter brief and to the point. You are probably not the only candidate, so try to defend your candidature.
- If you know the name of the person responsible, address the letter to him/her.
- Make it very clear why the company should choose you for the job. What separates you from the others applicants. Stay positive while distinguishing yourself from the rest.
- Write a strong introduction with a snappy opening sentence. Explain why you want this job. If you apply spontaneously, tell why you specifically chose this company.
- Always be positive and future-focused in your cover letter.
- Always add supporting facts when stating professional successes. Avoid concepts that are too general and replace them with concrete examples.
- In the middle of the letter, state your experience and personality characteristics. It is important that the recruiter gets to know you better.
- Refer to any attached documents, such as your CV, references, diplomas, etc.
- Do not forget to end your cover letter with a stated desire to meet with the persons responsible to further discuss the position and your qualifications. If you take the first step, they are more likely to invite you.
- Make sure that there are no errors in your cover letter.
- Avoid disarray, dog-ears, coffee stains, etc. Treat your letter and CV with care.
- Stiff language and clichés have the opposite effect. You have your own style, use it.
- Girly stationery, chat language, and smiley’s do not exude professionalism. Do not use them. A cover letter needs to remain professional.
- Make sure that you do not misspell the name of the addressee.
- Do not forget to state the job you are applying for or the stated reference number in the advertisement. A lot of companies are trying to fill more than one vacancy at once.
- Do not use the same cover letter for several applications. Always make sure that the text is specific to the job you are applying for.
- Do not use vague descriptions, be to-the-point.
- Do not over-exaggerate or over-estimate yourself.
- Last but not least: do not repeat the information that is in your CV. be creative and clear.
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