Cover Letter

A strong application is always a plus. Five applications custom tuned for the employer or internship provider are inclined to be significantly more successful than 100 blind applications where only the name and small details are changed.
To assist you in creating a strong cover letter we have gathered the following resources for you:

Preparation
Building your Cover Letter
How to avoid typically occurring technical mistakes

To further assist you, we also offer to look over you applicatons. More information on our job application checking service here.



Preparation


•    Please take the time to look over the job advertisement before you begin writing your cover letter. Also when writing an initiative application is it important to take the time to prepare to formulate a strong application.
•    Try to inform yourself about the company you are applying for as much as possible! A thourough internet search is always helpful. You can only write a strong application if you are well informed and are writing for the position for which you are applying.
•    A well-rehearsed telephone interview greatly increases your chances. The goal of calling is to increase the interest in those looking to interview you. Summarize shortly your strengths and qualifications for the position and ask one to two concrete questions. Doing so will help pave the way for a great cover letter, as you can refer back to your conversation and can use it as material.

Building your Cover Letter


•    A cover letter is not a written out version of your CV. The purpose of your cover letter is to present your skills and qualifications in a direct and concise manner. Concentrate on 2-4 of the most important points and try not to go too much into detail when giving descriptions.
•     “Short and sweet is nice and neat,” short is not impolite! Your cover letter should not be more than 12-14 sentences and should not be longer than one page total.
•    For each sentence, think about what you are writing and if it is actually saying something about you personally. Sentences that could apply to other applicants do not give you any advantages.  
•    The very first sentence should not be a repetition of the subject line. Begin with the position you are applying for and when you intend to begin. Afterwards immediately transition to describing your strongest qualification.
•    Use a writing style that allows the reader to determine the most important points you are trying to get across in less than a few seconds. Embedded sentences and complex content are to be avoided. Sentences easy to misinterpret or bulky sentences are not read a second time.
•    Justifications, explanations, repetitions and statements on past events do not belong in a cover letter.
•    Typical wording from job advertisements like; team player, flexible, responsible, or motivated should never be directly taken. Directly repeating the employer’s wishes is not helpful. As soon as a paragraph shows traces of these standard buzzwords, the rest of the section is skipped over.
•    Those responsible for recruiting new employees often have not studied the same subject that they are looking for in potential new employees. When certain skills are being demanded that you do not have, yet you possess a comparable set of skills, these analog skills should absolutely be mentioned.  

Avoiding typically occurring technical mistakes

•    Using the Correct Format
Technically speaking, a cover letter is a business letter with which you state you requests. The regular Din 5008 sets the standard for construction. For some sample templates, take a look at some of our helpful job application guidebooks located in the Campus Center.
•    Proper Forms of Address
The salutation Dear ladies and gentlemen is out! You should always use the name of your contact person, especially if their name is in the job advertisement. If their name is in the advert, you can often find the name of the proper contact person on the employer’s homepage. Calling the information desk at the company you wish to contact and asking for the proper name is also an option. Always ask them to spell the name out for you, regardless of how simple the name is.
Doing so will help you avoid simple mistakes: Mayer, Meier, or Meyer?
Using the correct company name:
Do not forget the Inc. or Ltd. In the company name; also pay attention to the spelling with upper and lower case letters.
Tip: Take the company name from their copyright notice page (e.g. ‘© Company X’) usually found at the bottom of the page.
•    Subject Line
The subject line is written in bold.
This cannot be forgotten. Outdated terms like “Subj.”, “Subject” or “Re:” before the beginning are no longer in use.
•    Font style & Size
The cover letter and CV should have the same font style and size. Only the personalized header can be different. Size 12 font is recommended for the font styles Arial, Times New Roman, and Calibri.
•    Attachments:
Unlike in many continental European applications, you do not include the word attachments at the bottom of you cover letter when applying. If you are including attachments, the employer will see them well enough.
•    Underlining:
Address lines, subject line, and text in general are not underlined.
•    Spacing
Using the proper spacing in your text is important. MS-Word has the ‘View all Formatting Characters’ where you can see how your text is formatted.
•    First Word in the First Paragraph:
The first word following the salutation is always written with a capital letter. This is different than in German where the first letter is almost always lower case.