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:

How to avoid typically occurring technical mistakes

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.

Avo­iding ty­pi­cal­ly oc­cur­ring tech­ni­cal mis­ta­kes

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.
 

 

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?
 

 

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.

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 Outdated terms like “Subj.”, “Subject” or “Re:” before the beginning are no longer in use.

 

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.

 

Address lines, subject line, and text in general are not underlined.

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.

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 10 sentences and should not be longer than one page total.


The very first sentence should not be a repetition of the subject line. You should also try to avoid sentences like, “I am applying for…“. Begin with the position you are applying for and when you intend to begin. Afterwards immediately transition to describing your strongest qualification.


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.


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.


Do not repeat the phrases used in the advertisement, but try to rather name the qualities that the advertisement touches upon. This works best through examples and not through empty phrases. So don’t use: “I am a team player, motivated, and responsible.“ But rather: "During my time as an intern by XY I worked on project YZ. I was a part of an interdisciplinary team and my tasks were XX and YY."


Sentences beginning with, “I am [non-concrete listing]” are not helpful. Much better would be to write, “I did/accomplished [direct example]”.


Superfluous sentences or sentence fragments that do not contain any relevant information should be avoided. This also counts for general sentences which are general for every applicant.


If you wish to write something about the company you are applying to, and then describe something that truly personally interests you about them. Good examples of such would be projects or departments to which you can describe a personal connection to rather than the standard text, „innovative, international, global market leader,“ which many other applicants will have (word for word) in their applications.


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.


Justifications, explanations, repetitions and statements on past events do not belong in a cover letter.

Ex­amp­le - Co­ver Let­ter

Here you can find a sample cover letter. The text marked in red must be modulated from place to place. The length shows a realistic picture.