Application: 4 cardinal errors in the cover letter

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Curriculum vitae, certificates and, depending on the industry, work samples are important in order to assert yourself against the competition in the application process. Inevitably, one of the first glances of the HR manager will also fall on the cover letter – which you can usually tell immediately whether the candidate made an effort or quickly applied the “copy and paste” principle. In addition to absolute no-gos such as typing and spelling errors, a wrong date, a missing signature or even coffee stains, you shouldn’t make these 4 mistakes.

# 1 Do not use loveless “Dear Sir or Madam” salutations

Anyone who does not take two minutes to google the managing director or the most suitable contact person of the company must not expect them to take significantly more time to review the application. It is not uncommon for hundreds of candidates to compete for attractive jobs. HR departments are often forced to make the first selection based on such purely formal criteria – even before your professional qualifications can come into play.

# 2 Don’t write a novel

Be brief, the cover letter should never be longer than one page. If you have completed several courses of study, have already gained several years of professional experience and supplemented your knowledge through various further training courses, this may seem difficult to summarize. Nevertheless: The cover letter is not about converting a résumé into a body text. Only address stations and activities that are relevant to the position you are applying for. But then be as precise as possible and work with concrete examples. Avoid complicated nested sentences. More importantly, don’t try to be funny.

# 3 Don’t offer convincing motivation

It becomes particularly tricky when a company does not ask for a classic cover letter, but explicitly requests a letter of motivation. Of course, we all know that everyone needs a job to make a living and that many job seekers apply for more than one position. Nevertheless, it is simply part of the game to always convey credibly and to burn for the advertised position. If, however, when you are writing the letter of motivation, you notice that your statements are too clichéd or constructed and your motives are drifting into the fantastic, you should better stay away from the application.

# 4 Missing the right tone

Do not go too far in describing yourself. For example, if you are applying for a trainee program, it is not only inappropriate, but may even involuntarily weird, if you supposedly have leadership skills. Also not very convincing are lists of how teamwork, flexible, stress-resistant, communicative and determined you are if this cannot be precisely proven at previous stations. In any case, it is better to refer to certificates for assessing competencies and personal characteristics and leave the grading to third parties. Conversely, your tone of voice shouldn’t sound submissive either. People without self-confidence are specifically sought for very few jobs. Therefore, use the subjunctive as actively and sparingly as possible.


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