Writing a Cover Letter in English

You’re applying to a job in English. You’ve finished updating your CV and now the only thing left to do is write your cover letter (or covering letter, as it’s sometimes called in the UK). You might be tempted to skip this step. After all, isn’t the recruiter going to see all the important information about your job history in your CV?

Not including a cover letter would be a terrible mistake. In fact, you should always include a cover letter, whether one is specifically requested or not. This is the first impression you’re making on the recruiter. It’s also your chance to highlight your skills and expertise, as well as to explain why you would be the perfect fit for the job opening.

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Here are six tips for writing a standout cover letter, including a list of verbs you might find useful. At the end of the article, you’ll find a template you can use when writing your own cover letter in English.

 

1. Customize your cover letter

You’re a busy person, and every minute of your day is valuable, particularly when you are engaged in the time-consuming activity of finding a new job. However, do not use this as an excuse to send a standard cover letter to every job you apply for. You probably appreciate receiving personalized, individual correspondence from someone who knows you and has thought about you. Recruiters are the same way. Your cover letter and application will stand out if you can demonstrate that you have researched the company, that you know who you are addressing, and if you can show what specific skills you have that will blend in with the company’s needs and values. Sure, it takes a little longer, but it could pay off big in the end.

 

2. Emphasize skills that are relevant to the job

Your cover letter is a good place to highlight experience or skills that make you particularly suited for the job opening. By mentioning one or two points in particular, you can make it clear that you are the best person for the job. Your cover letter also gives you the chance to go more in-depth than you can on your CV. For example, you can explain the concrete results of a particular project or draw an explicit connection between your past experience and the requirements of the job opening.

 

3. Use descriptive verbs

It’s tough to write CVs and cover letters to begin with, and if you’re doing it in a language that isn’t your mother tongue, you have even more of a disadvantage. But don’t let that stop you from using descriptive, dynamic language to talk about your accomplishments. Here are some possible verbs you could use in your cover letter:

 

You led a project
Chaired Oversaw
Coordinated Planned
Headed Produced
Orchestrated Programmed
You started a project
Administered Developed
Built Engineered
Created Pioneered
Designed Spearheaded
You saved the company money
Consolidated Lessened
Decreased Yielded
You increased sales or customer satisfaction
Achieved Gained
Boosted Maximized
Expanded Outpaced
Furthered Stimulated
You managed a team
Aligned Mentored
Cultivated Shaped
Fostered Supervised
Hired Trained

 

4. Make sure the tone is appropriate

This may be the hardest part for non-native English speakers; nevertheless, it’s essential to maintain an appropriate tone while writing your cover letter. Make sure you write in a way that’s somewhat formal yet easy to understand. You want to show that you are a trustworthy person who knows how to handle themselves professionally. It’s not appropriate to use slang or swear words.

 

It’s also important to keep in mind what type of job you are applying for. Some industries generally expect drier, more structured cover letters. Others, such as creative fields, allow for more leeway. Make sure you research cover letters in your particular industry.

 

5. Proofread your cover letter

By the time, you’re probably ready to be done with your cover letter. But don’t send it away without going over it once or twice more! It’s important to find and correct every error in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. By doing so, you are showing that you are the kind of attentive, detail-oriented person who would be an asset to the company’s team.

 

6. Write an outstanding email

When you send a job application by email, it’s best to attach your cover letter and CV as PDF files. At this point, many applicants give up, writing a generic, one-line email, such as, “Please find attached my cover letter and CV.” You can do better than this. Your email is another great chance to shine. You don’t need to reproduce your entire cover letter, but the email is a perfect opportunity to pique the recruiter’s interest and let her know from the start that you would be a great candidate for the job. One or two sentences about your interest in the company and your experience will make your email stand out.

 

Example cover letter template

Your cover letter should be descriptive but not longer than one page. Here’s a suggestion for how to structure it:

Name

Address

 

Subject

Dear (name):

  1. Greeting and opening.

Job you are applying for and how you found it (if applicable).

  1. Why you are a good candidate.
  1. What you can do for the company, why you are interested in the company, why you would be a good fit.
  1. Summary and closing.

 

Want to read more?

Here is our post about CVs and Resumes.

Tips to help you prepare a meeting in English.

How to find the right private English teacher to help you prepare your cover letter.

 

Find a private English teacher for in person classes in Spain at goprofe.com.

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