Cover letter: structure, tips& sample

A cover letter is a document that is supposed to show an applicant’s qualifications as well as motivation for a new job. Regardless of whether you are applying for an apprenticeship, an internship or a permanent position: The cover letter should always be flawless in terms of content and form in order to make an impression on potential, new employers with the application portfolio and to be personally invited to an interview.

What is a cover letter?

Even if it seems self-evident: the position of the cover letter directly after the cover page is immovable. The content of the cover letter should not duplicate that of the resume. Rather, it provides space for any information that is relevant outside of the curriculum vitae. This includes the applicant’s motivation and an explanation of what exactly qualifies you for the position. As you write the cover letter be relatively free with regard to content If you are able to do this, it gives you the opportunity to sell yourself creatively and interestingly to the recruiter. However, you should not exaggerate. Basically, though, making the hiring manager curious about who the person behind the letter of application is. You should therefore formulate your own qualities and abilities well, without laying it on too thickly.

The recruiter can tell from your cover letter, for example:

  • Get to the heart of your concerns,
  • Have familiarized yourself with the company, its goals and philosophy,
  • Are good in spelling and grammar,
  • Be able to sell yourself well (if you can’t sell yourself well, how do you sell company goals or products??),
  • Have correctly read and understood the requirements in the job advertisement,
  • Express yourself in a rambling or even rambling manner,
  • Suffering from overconfidence.

Structure of an application letter

While you are free with regard to the content of the application, you should adhere to clear rules when it comes to its formal structure. If the application letter is unstructured, it will be sorted out very quickly. Therefore, when structuring the cover letter, stick to the AIDA principle. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. This means that you want to attract the reader’s attention and interest in you, and make them want to learn more about you. Finally, at the end of the letter, persuade him/her to invite you for an interview.

Subject line of the application: Attention

The cover letter always begins with the subject. Here the applicant provides a direct Relation to the job, for which he or she would like to apply: "Application as …", "Application for the position of …".

Introduction: Interest

The content of the introduction begins with the salutation. Keep it formal and polite: "Dear Ms. … / Dear Mr. …" is suitable if the names of the contact persons are known. If you do not know who is responsible, call the company and ask for the contact person. If a name cannot be found, a "Dear Sir or Madam …" will do.

Make clear in the first sentences how you became aware of the job advertisement. Was the job advertisement a newspaper ad or an advertisement on the Internet?? After that you provide a first answer to the question why you of all people are the right applicant. Arouse interest with your Application folder interest in the reader! Explain your suitability, give insight into your knowledge and achievements. A reference to the job should always be recognizable. Be concise, precise, and relevant in your wording.

Main part: Desire

The main body explains the suitability for the job. Why do you meet the requirements? The job advertisement often helps here. Go over the relevant points of the ad and explain why you meet the claims. Remember the "D" from AIDA. It stands for Desire, i.e. to arouse the reader’s desire to learn more about you.

Conclusion: Action

At the end of the cover letter, encourage the reader to invite you for an interview: The best way to do this is to write a short and concise letter crisp closing sentence, that clarifies your anticipation of a personal interview with the personnel manager. Do not get lost in the subjunctive. you would not look forward to a personal interview, you are looking forward to! All phrases with "could" or "would" indicate uncertainty and therefore do not belong in the closing section.

You are free to provide optional information, i.e. content-related points that do not necessarily have anything to do with the application. Think carefully here about what will bring you forward. In the margin, mention that you have already successfully trained for a triathlon and convince the reader of your high willpower. If the hobbies are irrelevant and do not clarify anything, you should refrain from mentioning them. Knowledge of foreign languages, skills with technical computer programs as well as social competences, on the other hand, are always well received.

Formal structure of a cover letter

Also remember to build up the cover letter as well as its structure in a formally correct way. A template can help you with this. Use font size 11 for body text and size 13 for subheadings. The content of the cover letter should never be longer than one page. The font you should use Not extravagant but classic: Helvetica, Verdana or Times New Roman are a good choice. Also, opt for high-quality paper. This is an additional way to set yourself apart from other applicants. Our templates and samples are available for you below.

A cover letter, for example, must meet these requirements in order not to be sorted out from the start by the recruiter and the potential employer:

  • The cover letter is on good white or cream paper.
  • The cover letter is not longer than one page.
  • Letter is written in a classic font with no embellishments.
  • Flawless address of the company with complete company name.
  • The cover letter is addressed to the responsible contact person (research the correct contact person by phone).
  • The cover letter contains short meaningful sentences and information.
  • Foreign words are found in the cover letter only if they are common and make sense in the context.
  • Sign the cover letter (and the CV in table form) with your first and last name.
  • No spelling or grammatical errors (have it proofread to be sure).

Cover letter tips

To achieve full success with your application and avoid common mistakes, check your cover letter for the following Do’s and Don’ts, Containing the best tips for your cover letter:

Do some research about the company

When it was founded? What form of company it has? What products does it manufacture or what services does it offer?? Where are its markets and target groups? How has it changed in recent years? Have there been expansions or sales? What are the challenges? The Internet makes such research very easy today. Often there is even official press information on the homepage.

Of course, you cannot address all these facts in the cover letter of the application. But if the personnel manager notices from your application documents that you have dealt with the company and that you want to become a part of it out of conviction, you will leave the desired impression with your cover letter. Moreover, it shows great interest and makes a good cover letter. Underline which Added value for the company comes from your personal involvement, rather than listing what the job would give you. And: Nothing is more fatal than giving the impression that you are only applying because you can’t think of anything better or out of sheer convenience.

Application abroad

When designing applications for abroad, keep in mind that this advice applies to letters of application in Germany. If you are applying in other countries, such as the USA, China or other European countries, the requirements for the letter of application and the templates and samples (also for training and internships) may be different. For this purpose, research conscientiously what is customary for the application in the respective countries. This applies to all parts of the application, from the cover letter to the resume (you can also find samples for this on our portal).

Hint: In the EU, there is the Europass resume from the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP). Although this is not mandatory to use as a sample in applications, the resume is well suited to avoid mistakes in the application cover letter.

Sample and template cover letter

Here you will find four different free templates for your application documents as PDF documents:

Sample cover letter for a sales manager job

Sample cover letter for a job in a call center

Sample letter of application

Examples from bad cover letters:

"I would like to work for you because your company is so conveniently located".

"I am applying to you because a neighbor of mine works for you and I can carpool with him."

"Your company is known as a traditional company that is eager to expand. I would like to work in purchasing at your company because I think that I will receive sound training and continuous further education."

"I have heard that you offer above-average benefits and that your working atmosphere is very good. I attach great importance to."

Tip: The fact that you need to earn money and need the job because you have been through a separation or divorce does not belong in a cover letter.

Examples from good cover letters:

"Your company is expanding in Saudi Arabia. Since I speak the language quite well and am already familiar with the Arab mentality from previous assignments, I can provide valuable support for you in this regard."

"Your company is renowned in the field XY. I am excited to work for a market leader and contribute my in-depth programming skills to expand your market advantage."

"Your slogan is: "We give your future a home". As a customer service representative, I would like to be a building block for this "home".

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