Structure of a cover letter

After a solid introduction – because the recruiter’s first impression is decisive – you should avoid the following common mistakes:

- Standard introduction: “Pursuant to your advertisement published in ... on ..., please find attached my CV...”;

- Aggressive introduction: “You are looking for a systems engineer; you will not find anyone better than me”;

- Pleading introduction: “As I am currently searching for employment, I am taking the liberty of submitting my candidacy to you in the hopes that you will offer me a position suited to my profile”;

- Desperate introduction: “After being on the job market for several months, you are my last chance, in the hopes that my application will capture your attention”;

- Vague introduction: “I am sending you a cover letter in the hopes that my profile might be of interest to you”;

- Overly formal introduction: “It is my honour to respectfully present my curriculum vitae for your consideration in the hopes that my candidacy aligns with the profile of an inventory manager as stated in your advertisement dated ... and published in ...”;

- Obsequious introduction: “Given the fact that your company is the leader in its field, your excellent reputation and the dynamics of your company have inspired me to submit my candidacy to you...”.

Above all, the introduction to your cover letter should express your sincere interest in the company, avoid generalities and get straight to the point without being either aggressive or pedantic.

After the introduction, talk about the company (and/or its business sector) (“YOU”), then about yourself (your motivation, skills, experience, etc.) (“I”) and lastly your vision of the future as an employee at the company (“WE”).

If you are responding to an advertisement, use the same terms and key words, adapting them to your personal and professional development path by highlighting your skills and experience.

Never repeat the information contained in your CV. Instead, provide important additional information about your profile: provide specific details of your previous experiences (work placements, final year project, past employment, etc.) while promoting your personal qualities. Above all, avoid canned expressions like “my enthusiasm”, “my adaptability”, “my team spirit”, etc., as well as overly general or vague expressions. Everything you put in your cover letter should be connected to the desired position.

Lastly, imagine yourself at the company, avoiding the classic “I am open to any offers”. It is better to indicate the type of position you seek or at least provide some suggestions to the recruiter.

The conclusion should not be the traditional “I look forward to a positive response”, but rather a summary of the spirit of your cover letter, either recapping the strengths of your candidacy or adding a final argument that reflects your motivation. You can also conclude with a request for an interview and wrap it up with a plain and simple sign-off.

Finally, your cover letter should ideally be on a single A4 page, well spaced and broken into paragraphs, while leaving the CV to fulfil its main role, that of presenting your experience and skills.

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