How to Write a Cover Letter

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This presentation gives guidelines how to write a brilliant cover latter that will open the doors for your job application approval and ensures you will be invited to a job interview. It discussed the cover letter structure, the typical mistakes and how to avoid them.

The author has good experience in training and hiring computer programmers, software engineers and IT professionals.

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  • Mistake 3: Missing Cover Letter Some people think that nobody reads the cover letters sent as part of their job application and that the cover letter is a meaningless requirement. Such people believe that strong CV and rich experience is enough. In some companies this could be true, but in the best employers this is great mistake. Certainly, there are some companies that really do not care about the cover letter and as a rule these companies do not request it. If a cover letter is requested, be sure it will be read, at least at a glance. In the most prestigious and well-structured companies the cover letter is very important and the human resources (HR) team at the company definitely reads it. If the cover letter is impressive, you will be immediately contacted and invited to an interview, even if your experience is not great. Remember: it is always worth to send a well-prepared, impressive cover latter, especially written for exactly this company and exactly this job position. Never “reuse” your cover letters. A good cover letter for certain company and job position is in most cased bad cover letter for another p osition. Beware: If you apply for a second time in given company, be sure to rewrite your cover letter. Most good companies will disregard your application in case they find that you apply for a second time with the same cover letter. The same cover letter means that your motivation is not changed, your qualification is not changed since your last application. Be sure that the HR professionals will try to find as much information about you as they can. They will search in Google about you, will try to find your Facebook profile, will try to find information about you from current employees, etc. The HR professionals never forget if you had ever sent a bad job application. They will find you, be sure. That’s why you should always carefully prepare your job application before sending it. Read this article to the end and think a bit how to proceed the next time when you apply for a job. Mistake 4: Template-based Cover Letter One of the best ways to guarantee a failure of your job application process is to use a template-based cover latter. Never do this! Once we received a really bad cover letter like this: “ Dear …, I would like to apply for Your Company because I am skillful and highly enthusiastic candidate. I want to grow in Your Company, to improve my knowledge and skills. Your company is the best and I want to be part of it. I am hard worker and will help your business to grow.” The above is just a bullshit! This text says nothing about why you want exactly this position in exactly this company, how your  experience in the past will help you do exactly this job, why you are really match the requirements from the job offer, etc. Moreover, using phrases like “Your Company” is always a bad idea! Once we even received a cover letter starting with “Dear …” with three dots coming from the template. Remember: There is no way to write a good cover latter by template. How to Write a Cover Letter A good way for writing a cover letter is to read enough about the company and the offered position and following the requirements stated in the job offer and the detailed job descriptions to write roughly 1-2 sentences matching each of these requirements (not directly, not exactly in the order specified in the job offer and not exactly with their words an phrases!). For example if the job requires “ examine and analyze the technical documentation of competitors ”, you could write for example that “ in your previous job you had to read a lot of technical documentation and thus you believe that you will be able to find, read and analyze various types of articles, documents, manuals, etc. ”. Don’t use this sentence in your cover letter. Say it with your words, matching your experience and skills. If you don’t have similar experience, say for example that “ you like to read blogs and articles and you know that technical documentation is different but it should also be interesting and challenging ”. Use your won words. Another example: the job description requires “ excellent communication skills ”. You could write that “ you believe you have a good sense of communication because you had organized a small technical seminar at school or at the university where you needed to contact the speakers, arrange the seminar venue, invite the attendees, attract sponsors, etc. ”. This could never be used as template. It depends on your past experience, interests, skills, personal character qualities, etc. A bad idea is to write “ I am very good in examining and analyzing the technical documentation of competitors ”. How you prove this? What are your arguments? If you are not good in something, just skip talking about it. You can’t say you are good at something without any arguments. How you know you are good in this? Just describe it. Another bad idea: ” I have excellent communication skills ”. This sound like “ I am 18 years old and I have very rich experience in professional project management in large teams ”. Saying something without arguments is always a bad idea. Either argument well your statement or just don’t talk about it. Never Lie in Your CV and Cover Letter Never lie! If you lie in your CV or cover letter, you will be caught at the interview and your eventual interview will end very soon. Just write in the cover letter something matching the requested requirements and provide valid supporting arguments. You could prove that you match certain requirements either by showing similar experience, or you by saying you have read about this in the past, or just sharing that you have a friend who always talks to you about this, or you just explain that you want to learn this and you even had read an article about it and watched a related video tutorial. Always use valid arguments and never lie. If you say you are … or …, find a supporting arguments. Another example: “ I am a hard-worker ”. How you prove this? You could say that “ at the university you always have high grades due to the fact that you always come very well prepared for the exams ” or that “ when an important work is waiting you, you could not sleep until you get it done ”. Just use valid true arguments based on your past experience (not only work experience, but general). Don’t Make Spelling, Punctuation and Formatting Mistakes When writing your CV and cover letter, use a spell checker. Don’t make spelling mistakes, punctuation mistakes, etc. MS Word and the other text processing applications have very good spell checkers. Just use them. Format your CV and cover letter well. Here you can use templates. Just type “CV template” or “sample cover letter” in Google and you will find lots of examples. Be sure to use only the styles, layout and formatting from the best examples you find and never use the text inside. Some companies even use an automated software to find whether your cover letter is template-based, so be sure to write it entirely in your words!
  • How to Write a Cover Letter

    1. 1. How to Write a Cover Letter? Good Practices, Common Mistakes <ul><li>Doncho Minkov </li></ul><ul><li>Telerik Corporation </li></ul><ul><li>www.telerik.com </li></ul>
    2. 2. Table of Contents <ul><li>Why We Need a Cover Letter? </li></ul><ul><li>Template-based Cover Letters </li></ul><ul><li>How to Write a Good Cover Letter? </li></ul><ul><li>Lying in the Cover Letter </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t Make Mistakes </li></ul>
    3. 3. Why Do We Need a Cover Letter?
    4. 4. What is the Cover Letter? <ul><li>The cover letter is a way of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Introducing yourself to potential employers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explaining why you are suitable for the position </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Employers look for individualized and thoughtfully written cover letters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is a method of screening out applicants who </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are not sufficiently interested in their position </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Who lack necessary basic skills </li></ul></ul></ul>
    5. 5. What is the Cover Letter? (2) <ul><li>Cover letters are typically divided into three categories </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The application letter or invited cover letter which responds to a known job opening </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The prospecting letter or uninvited cover letter which inquires about possible positions </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Why We Need Cover Letters? <ul><li>The cover letter is the best way to show how motivated you are </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why you want to start a career in this particular company </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why this exact position </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why in this sphere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Etc. </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Companies Requesting Cover Letters <ul><li>Some people think that nobody reads the cover letters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The cover letter is a meaningless requirement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Such people believe that strong CV and rich experience is enough </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In some companies this could be true, but in the best employers this is great mistake </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If a cover letter is requested </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Be sure it will be read </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>At least at a glance </li></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 8. What We Gain from Cover Letter? <ul><li>In the most prestigious and well-structured companies the cover letter is very important </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The human resources (HR) team at the company definitely reads it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If the cover letter is impressive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You will be immediately contacted and invited to an interview </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Even if your experience is not great </li></ul></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Cover Letters: Remember <ul><li>It is always worth to send a well-prepared and impressive cover letter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Especially written for exactly this company and exactly this job position </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Never &quot;reuse&quot; your cover letters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A good cover letter for certain company and job position is in most cased bad cover letter for another position </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Cover Letters: Beware <ul><li>If you apply for a second time in given company </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Be sure to rewrite your cover letter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most good companies will disregard your application </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The same cover letter means that </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Your motivation has not changed </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Your qualification is not changed </li></ul></ul></ul>
    11. 11. The HR Will Research You <ul><li>Be sure that the HR professionals will try to find all the information about you they can </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They will search in Google about you </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They will try to find your Facebook profile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They will try to find information about you from current employees </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. The HR Will Research You (2) <ul><li>The HR professionals never forget if you had ever sent a bad job application </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They will find you, be sure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>That’s why you should always carefully prepare your job application before sending it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Think a bit how to proceed the next time when you apply for a job </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Template-Based Cover Letters
    14. 14. Template-based Cover Letters <ul><li>The best way to guarantee a failure when applying for a job is to use a template-based cover latter </li></ul><ul><li>Once we received a really bad cover letter like this: </li></ul>“ Dear …, I would like to apply for Your Company because I am skillful and highly enthusiastic candidate. I want to grow in Your Company, to improve my knowledge and skills. Your company is the best and I want to be part of it. I am hard worker and I am sure I will help your business to grow.”
    15. 15. Template-Based Cover Letters <ul><li>When using a template for cover letters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You say nothing about why you want exactly this position in exactly this company </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How your experience in the past will help you do exactly this job </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why you really match the requirements from the job offer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Phrases like “ Your Company ” are always a bad idea! </li></ul><ul><li>Once we received a cover letter starting with “ Dear … ” (with three dots left from the template) </li></ul>
    16. 16. How to Write a Good Cover Letter?
    17. 17. A Good Cover Letter <ul><li>A good cover letter : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shows that you apply exactly for this company , not some other </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You are interested in this particular company and this particular position </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not just searching for some job </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shows you have a clear idea of the position </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What are your future responsibilities, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You match the requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You have the required skills and abilities </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. What is a Good Cover Letter? (2) <ul><li>A good way for writing a cover letter is to read </li></ul><ul><ul><li>About the company </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>About the offered position </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The requirements stated in the job offer </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The detailed job descriptions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Write 1-2 sentences matching the requirements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not directly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not exactly in the order as in the job offer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not exactly with the same words and phrases </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Example Job Offer Requirement <ul><li>You could write for example that </li></ul>examine and analyze the technical documentation of competitors In my previous job I had to read a lot of technical documentation and thus I believe that I will be able to find, read and analyze various types of articles, documents, manuals, etc. <ul><ul><li>Don’t use this sentence in your cover letter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Say it with your words, matching your experience and skills </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>If you don’t have similar experience, say for example that </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use your own words </li></ul></ul>I like to read blogs and articles and I know that technical documentation is different but it should also be interesting and challenging.
    20. 20. Example Job Offer Requirement (2) <ul><li>It is a bad idea to write: </li></ul><ul><li>How you prove this? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are your arguments? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If you are not good in something </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Just skip writing about it </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You can’t say you are good at something without any arguments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How you know you are good in this </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Just describe it </li></ul></ul></ul>I am very good in examining and analyzing the technical documentation of competitors.
    21. 21. Matching the Requirements <ul><li>You could write that </li></ul><ul><li>This could never be used as a template </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It depends on your past experience, interests, skills, personal character qualities, etc. </li></ul></ul>excellent communication skills I believe I have a sense of communication because I had organized a small technical seminar at school and at the university where I needed to contact the speakers, arrange the seminar venue, invite the attendees, attract sponsors, etc. <ul><li>Given the following requirement: </li></ul>
    22. 22. Bad Ideas <ul><li>Example of a bad way to match the requirements: </li></ul><ul><li>This sound like </li></ul><ul><li>Saying something without arguments is always a bad idea </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Either argument well your statement or just don’t talk about it </li></ul></ul>I have excellent communication skills. I am 18 years old and I have very rich experience in professional project management in large teams.
    23. 23. Who to Address in the Cover Letter? <ul><li>This is a common question </li></ul><ul><li>It is best if you can research who will be reading your cover letter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>That way you can address it directly to them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It is risky </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You can misspell the name </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>If you don't know the exact person </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Write 'Mr./Mrs.', 'HR Manager', etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Something more common </li></ul></ul></ul>Dear Svetlin Nikolov and Training staff,
    24. 24. Lying in Cover Letter Do You Really Need to Do It?
    25. 25. Lying in Cover Letter <ul><li>Never Lie! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If you lie in your CV or cover letter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You will be caught at the interview and your eventual interview will end very soon </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Write in the cover letter something matching </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The requested requirements </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Provide valid supporting arguments </li></ul></ul></ul>I have 10 years of experience with Silverlight.
    26. 26. Validate your Arguments <ul><li>You could prove that you match certain requirements either </li></ul><ul><ul><li>By showing similar experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By saying you have read about this in the past </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By sharing that you have a friend who always talks to you about this </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You explain you want to learn this, you had read an article and watched a video tutorial </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Always use valid arguments and never lie </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If you say you are …, find supporting arguments </li></ul></ul>
    27. 27. Validate your Arguments (2) <ul><li>Another example: </li></ul><ul><li>How you prove this? </li></ul><ul><li>You could say that </li></ul><ul><li>or better explain that </li></ul><ul><li>Use valid arguments based on past experience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not only work experience, but general </li></ul></ul>I am a hard-worker … at the university I always have high grades because I always come very well prepared for the exams … … when an important work is waiting, I cannot sleep until I get it done …
    28. 28. Don’t Make Mistakes Spelling, Punctuation and Formatting Mistakes
    29. 29. Mistakes <ul><li>When writing your CV and cover letter, use a spell checker </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t make spelling mistakes, punctuation mistakes, etc. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MS Word , Google Docs and the other text processing applications have very good spell checkers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Just use them </li></ul></ul>
    30. 30. Formatting Mistakes <ul><li>Format your CV and cover letter well </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At this point you can use templates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Just type &quot; CV template &quot; or &quot; sample cover letter &quot; in Google and you will find lots of examples </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Be sure to use only the styles, layout and formatting from the best examples you find </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Never use the text inside </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some companies use an automated software to find if your cover letter is template-based </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Be sure to write it entirely in your words </li></ul></ul></ul>
    31. 31. Good and Bad Cover Letters Live Demo
    32. 32. How to Write a Cover Letter? <ul><li>Questions? </li></ul>

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