The cover letter is a supplement to CV, i.e., your chance to stand out in the eyes of the employer and give context to the references from CV. The most important question you can answer with a cover letter is why you’re the ideal person for the job, and that’s a good reason to write it, right? 😊
Below we will show you the four basic paragraphs your cover letter should contain.
The cover letter has the form of a business letter, so in the header, on the right-hand side, give the sender’s details, i.e., your details (first and last name, email address and mobile phone number), and on the left-hand side, give the recipient’s details, i.e., the company’s data (company name and address).
Use the introductory part of the cover letter to emphasise which job you’re applying for, so that it’s clear to the employer from the start what you’re applying for, as sometimes there are several vacancies in a company at the same time. In a few sentences at most, write who you are, what you’re applying for and how you know about the vacancy. For example:
I am a 3rd year undergraduate student of Computing at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing. I hereby apply for the position of Junior Web Developer advertised on your company’s LinkedIn profile.
First paragraph: motivation, interests, and values
In the first paragraph, make a connection between your interests and professional goals and the job you’re applying for.
When writing the first paragraph, the introductory part of the job advertisement, in which the employer briefly describes the company and the job, is very helpful. Also, take the time to research the company in more detail. Check out their website and social media to learn more about their values, projects, products, customers, and technologies they use. You can also contact a colleague or friend who works or has worked for the company and ask them directly about the company. Attend a company event where they present themselves or an event like a Job Fair Meetup where you can learn interesting information directly from the company’s employees.
When the research is complete, think about your professional goals, interests, values, and motivations and combine them with what you think is the most interesting information about the company and the job you’re applying for. This will give the employer an idea of your motivation and why you’re applying for this particular job and this company. This can make you stand out from other applicants.
In this section it’s very important to remain authentic, i.e., it’s very good if you can be specific about what you like about the job and the company you’re applying for. This means that you should avoid generic phrases such as: “I want to work for your company because you are a leader in the automotive industry in Croatia.” After researching, you will be able to specify what being a leading company means to you (e.g., having a development project for autonomous driving, cooperating with foreign markets on projects that make driving safer, giving your employees a lot of space for their own research in the automotive industry…) and relate this to your preferences.
Second paragraph: skills and achievements
The second paragraph is where you highlight your personal and professional skills that make you just the right person for the job.
To begin, take your cheat sheet again – the job advertisement – and underline the skills and abilities required. Then highlight the knowledge and skills you have and think about the situations in which you can demonstrate the application of a particular knowledge or skill.
For example, if your job advertisement asks for knowledge of the C++programming language, mention a project, course at the faculty, work or volunteer activity, internship or your own project that demonstrates your level of knowledge. It’s good if your example can also show that you possess other knowledge required in the job advertisement (in addition to the knowledge of the language) or demonstrates a skill such as teamwork or delegating tasks.
At the end of your example, mention what the result of your work was – what your end product is. Was it the website of a health food shop or a robot route optimisation?
To help you with writing the first and second paragraphs, we recommend you read our previous blog about the steps you should take before writing a cover letter and preparing the material. 😉
Use the last paragraph for your own proactive call to action by mentioning how you’re looking forward to hear back from the employer or how much you’re looking forward to meeting them and telling them more about yourself. Also, thank them for their attention and consideration of your application.
As with any business letter, it’s important that you properly close and sign the cover letter.
A cover letter should be written on one page if possible. So, when writing, try to optimise the sentences and adapt each letter to the job you’re applying for. Use the requirements in the job advertisement to select the most important information and download a prepared cover letter template to help you start writing.
Once you’ve written a cover letter, feel free to send it to us together with the job ad at firstname.lastname@example.org for personalised feedback. 😉