How to master the cover letter

Alongside the CV, the cover letter has long been one of the most important documents in the application process. Nowadays, many companies only ask for a curriculum vitae. But even if you are not asked to do so, writing a cover letter can shed more light on your experience and approach to work. An informative cover letter can perfectly complement your application documents. 

Here are some of our tips that you can use to help you craft a cover letter. 

Convincing recruiters or hiring managers

When looking at applications, recruiters and hiring managers first sift through CVs to remove any that are not relevant for the role they are hiring for, then they examine the cover letter. The aim is to convince the recruiter or hiring manager that you are not only the perfect candidate for the vacancy, but that you fit in with the company on a personal level, rather you are the right cultural fit.

You should make sure that you stand out from the crowd. Recruiters and hiring managers often complain that the letters of application they receive are not informative enough, contain little additional information or seem too subjective overall. Such points - often the result of using pre-formulated sample templates - reduce the chance of an invitation to an interview. 

The opportunity

Cover letters help recruiters and hiring managers to assess the personality and mindset of an applicant. So don't see the cover letter as a chore, but as an opportunity.

Are you looking for a new professional challenge? At Progressive Recruitment we specialise in matching clients with candidates from the manufacturing, energy, construction and supply chain sectors. If you are looking for challenging new assignment or an attractive permanent position contact our teams directly or apply for one of our many vacancies.

Your cover letter guide

Taking your time to write your cover letter is important. This will show the recruiter or hiring manager that you have made an effort and have not used a pre-formulated template.

1. Research the company

In your cover letter, you not only want to convince the recruiter or hiring manager of who you are as a person, but also emphasise why you are interested in this particular company. Therefore, you should take a look at the company's website before writing the cover letter. Learn about the company's values, mission statement and their strategy which you can address in the letter.

This will show that you have thoroughly researched the company and have a genuine interest in the job.

2. The right contact person

Purely out of politeness, you should write in the cover letter to the person mentioned in the job advertisement. If this is information is hard to find, this is a good opportunity to call the company to find out who the contact person is, or do a search on LinkedIn to find the recruiter at the company. This way you show that you are genuinely interested in the position and you will be remembered by the personal contact.

3. Clarify the W-questions

Having trouble getting started? First of all, write down the most important W-questions:

  • Who are you?
  • Why exactly do you want to apply for this job?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What advantages will the company gain from hiring you?
  • What do you not (yet) do so well?
  • What do you do with enthusiasm?

Answering these questions will already provide you with some content for your cover letter.

4. Structure and uniform layout

Recruiters and hiring managers don't have much time, so your cover letter should be short and concise – one A4 page is perfectly adequate. Always remember a cover letter is like a formal letter.

First you should insert the sender's address at the top, right-justified, followed by the recipient's address - left-justified. After two or three spaces, put your city and the date, also right-justified. After the date, put two or three blank lines again. Then comes the subject line. This is an important element so that the recruiter can assign you directly. In the subject line, write the name of the advertised position and the corresponding reference number.

Now comes the cover letter. Basically, it is always structured in the same way: Introduction, body, conclusion. In the introduction, you should arouse the interest of the decision-maker right from the start. There are many standard phrases in ready-made templates. But recruiters and hiring managers want to be made curious about you. Therefore, get creative and use new introductions that directly entice them to read through your cover letter completely, such as:

  • "Are you looking for a planner to support you during a shutdown of a chemical plant?"
  • "I have successfully managed many construction projects – and that's exactly what I plan to do in your company."

Then go directly to the job advertisement, slowly leading to the main part. In the main body, go into more depth about the job requirements. Also, emphasise your highlights of your career so far and why you in particular are the perfect person to fill this position. Stay confident and try not to exaggerate. Here is also where you can add in the information you noted down when you did some company research.

The conclusion should be the send-off, but also encourage a reaction from the recruiter or hiring manager. Through the cover letter, you want to be invited for an interview and this is what you need to confidently ask for. However, avoid subjunctive phrases such as: "I would be happy to hear from you". Such phrases come across as too shy. Our suggestions:

  • "I am looking forward to the next stage of this recruitment process. I would be keen to discuss my skills and motivation for the job as project manager in a personal interview."
  • "Are you convinced? Then I look forward to the opportunity for an interview at your company."

And don't forget, If the advertisement asks for certain information, you should also include it in your application in any case. Often, you will be asked for salary expectations and a possible starting date. Do not make the mistake of omitting these items. Applications that do not contain all the necessary information are often rejected immediately. A good place in the cover letter for salary expectations and starting date of employment is the last paragraph before the farewell.

5. Do not forget your signature

To complete the cover letter, you should add a personal touch at the end. You can do this by putting your signature under your name. You can now also do this digitally.

6. Proofread

Spelling and grammatical errors do not belong in a cover letter and look unprofessional. Therefore, be sure to have a second or even third person read through your cover letter to make sure there are no mistakes.

Have you double-checked all the data? Then you can now send your cover letter and the requested documents to the appropriate contact person. We wish you every success!

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We know exactly what an attractive CV should look like and what information is important for our clients, so take a look at our CV advice page or reach out to us today.

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