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Making an Engaging Cover Letter


Your cover letter- also called a job application letter or motivation letter - can make the difference between a foot in the door at your new employer or getting the door slammed in front of you.

The resume remains by far the most important document during your application, but a good cover letter can just make a recruiter engaged.

What would you do if you had 3 almost identical resumes in front of you, but 1 cover letter jumped out?

1 of the 3 cover letters is more original, more relevant and more personal.

Of course, at that moment you have an edge and you're more likely to be invited.

To come to a cover letter that stands out, your preparation plays a crucial role.

Let's talk in more details!

1. Personal contact

You'll have to call the recruiter or contact person in the vacancy.

People trust other people the more they have seen or spoken to each other more often.

Go after yourself.

The first time you meet someone, it often feels a bit uncomfortable or awkward.

The first few minutes it's always a bit of scanning. This feeling decreases as you get to know each other better.

You must apply this principle at any time .

But there is another important reason to contact.

From recent research from the University of Chicago shows that recruiters applicants describe as intelligent as they hear their voice or heard.

In other words: calling pays off!

If you have called, you're already 90% better than your competitors, because very few people still dare to call.

Because they think it's scary. Or because they are afraid of making mistakes.

But you know better, because you're well prepared for the telephone conversation and know exactly what you should ask and how you should behave.

Why is calling even more important?

An important advantage is that you have the name of the recruiter. Note that the name of the person you're going to speak to during the job interview .

And you can perfectly start the letter with this.

Consider the following example of a cover letter. A recruiter who sees his own name pass by a few times is much quicker to read the letter in question more accurately.

And if you have had a good telephone conversation, he may still know who you are.

2. Good preparation

We have mentioned it a few times.

The first thing you're going to do is contact the recruiter.

You're going to call him or her.

Proper preparation is essential for such a telephone conversation.

Start by thoroughly analyzing and investigating

- the company or institution
- the person you're going to speak to
- the specific vacancy you have in mind

This will help you to have a good conversation and ultimately to write an appealing cover letter that matches the employer and the relevant position.

If you're going to write an open cover letter, you'll have to put more emphasis on the first 2 points and you will have to decide for yourself what kind of position you would like to fulfill.

How are you going to gather essential information about the position and the organization?

These are the most important ways:

- Read publications and annual reports from and about the organization. Also think of a visit from the corporate website of the organization.
- View videos of the organization, interviews with CEOs or other relevant videos
- Understand the latest news: turn on Google Alerts with the organization name as the keyword. Though Google Alerts you'll be automatically informed of the latest news from the company. You can use this in your letter (and later during your job interview).
- Use your network: call friends and acquaintances and ask if they know people who work for your future employer. Try to get in touch with current employees in other ways to find out what the organization considers important when hiring new people

Also have a good look at the vacancy text.

Who are they actually looking for? How can you meet the requirements?

Don't be afraid that you must meet all the conditions set. It's particularly important that you meet the most important points.

It's often not a problem if you still have to develop in certain areas. Just be honest about this.

If you have done the above preparation well, you can easily come up with the 3-5 most important questions you have for the contact person or recruiter.

You're completely ready to call.

Moreover, you can use this preparation particularly well when writing your letter.

3. Writing the letter: tell a story!

OK, the preparation is done.

You can now start writing the letter itself.

But how do you do that?

How do you ensure that your letter stands out among the many dozens of other letters?

Avoid boring sentences cluttered with clich├ęs.

And remember:

your letter may absolutely not be a copy of your resume.

Your cover letter or motivation letter must tell something that isn't yet on your resume.

But what exactly?

A strong way to raise your cover letter to a higher level is by telling a good story about your core qualities.

List your most important competencies or skills and come up with 2 or 3 appealing stories to show why they should invite you in an interesting, relevant and above all fun way.


- People (and therefore recruiters) love stories. When we hear a story, we automatically want to know how it ends. It ensures that the reader is stimulated and let's just want that.
- A good story contributes to your credibility and shows why you should come for an interview.
- Cover letters are often fatally boring. Distinguish yourself by telling a nice story!

What should you pay attention to when telling a good story?

- Tell a personal story, something that you do in your personal life. Make sure it has a connection with the open function. For example: if you want to say that you're meticulous and pay attention to details, you can indicate how that works out at your home or at one of your previous employers. Give a lively and detailed example so that the reader immediately gets a picture of you.
- Be enthusiastic ! Recruiters are looking for people with energy who would like to take the initiative.
- Don't be afraid to put emotion in your story. Why don't you clearly show that you're happy, angry or enthusiastic about something?
- Make sure that you come across as confident. NEVER use "I believe" or "I think". This doesn't come across as strong and it seems that you aren't entirely sure about your case.
- Use details to convince your reader. Details ensure that your story becomes more credible.
- Consider using an Open loop. For example: start your letter with 'There are 3 reasons why I'm suitable for the position of X', and then list the 3 reasons. Psychologically, people would like to know all 3 reasons. A simple trick for the recruiter to read through.
- Call not just something that you're good at, but also let your story to see that you are good at something. Prove it! For example, name relevant events that you have visited, people you have met, videos (YouTube) that you have seen so that you show that you're genuinely interested in the field in which you're applying.
- Tell what you have learned. Nothing is as strong as showing that you're open to new things, not afraid to fail and learn from your work.

4. The structure and structure of your cover letter

Keep the following 4 things (points A,B,C,D) in mind when building your cover letter:

A) Introduction to the letter

Try to arouse the reader's interest in the introduction.

Don't fall for open doors, such as "I'm writing to apply for the position ...", or "As you can see in my resume ...".

Try to start with an original sentence . And it's smart to refer to the previous phone call.

Example for the opening of a cover letter

A cover letter for the municipality of california:

After having studied and lived in New York for almost 5 years, I moved to California half a year ago. For me, as a melting pot of cultures, the city has a stimulating and diverse character. When I cycle from the Oud-West district towards the center, I constantly experience all the different impressions the city leaves on me. In the future, I would like to see myself at the center of society. I want to interact with people, immerse myself in the community and think along about what goes on in it. That's why I would like to work at the municipality of California. [...]

Cover letter for a travel agency:

Every day I see your office on [STREET NAME] when I cycle to work. And I regularly check your website, which makes sense if your greatest hobbies are traveling and writing. This is where I came across your vacancy. [...]

B) Your motivation for the position

Not only write that the position or organization attracts you, but also clearly explain why.

Demonstrating your motivation is one of the most important reasons to be invited.

The trick is to convey your enthusiasm in a personal way.

Do this in a credible way and connect with the organization where you're applying.

But how can you properly state your motivation in your letter?

We have told it before:

Jump out by telling a good story!

- Be enthusiastic: nothing works as well as showing why you're so enthusiastic.
- Be personal: write what really moves you and dare to state what you find interesting or interesting. Jump out!
- Be factual: if you can convey your motivation and ambitions with the help of facts, it works to your advantage. You then come across as much more credible.

C) Substantiation of your suitability

Why do they have to invite you for an interview?

What makes you unique?

Consider relevant work experience, skills and characteristics. Be enthusiastic, self-aware, not too modest and always formulate your letter positively.

Start each paragraph with different words and then immediately get to the point.

For instance:

"I'm confident that my legal experience makes me a suitable candidate for this position and I attach my resume for further information."

As a starter on the labor market you often have little work experience to fall back on in your letter.

Instead, you can substantiate your story with your graduation project, experience abroad, a part-time job, an internship or activities for a student or study association.

D) Strong closure of the letter

You can use the last paragraph as a formal closure of the letter.

The closing of your letter is just as important as the opening.

Make sure it sticks!

You can summarize the letter in a few sentences and refer to a personal conversation.

Example of a final sentence for your cover letter:

"I would like to explain my motivation in a personal meeting".

End with 'With kind regards' or 'Warm regards' and your name and signature.

For a letter that you want to send by email, you can use a scanned signature that you paste in the document.

5. Do a check

Avoid common mistakes .

Always have your letter read by someone else.

Your partner, family, friend or mother.

And it's always instructive to receive feedback!

Spelling errors are deadly. Always use an online spell checker, print the letter and read it at your leisure.

6. The layout of your cover letter

The layout of your letter is often overlooked but is essential.

The way in which you prepare the cover letter is very important. It shows that you have an eye for detail and that you can present something in a clear and neat way.

You show that you have put the time and energy into the application.

And those are exactly the kind of people that many employers are looking for.

In addition, letters that are neatly laid out are read faster and better by the recruiter.

If you want to stay on the safe side, opt for a traditional layout of your letter.

- Start with your own name, address, zip code and city, followed by the name of the company or organization where you want to apply. State clearly to whom you're directing the letter. Another reason to always first call the organization, so that you know to whom you should address the letter.
- State the place where you write the letter followed by the date.
- State the description of the function on a separate line. It's professional to make the font of this line 2 or 3 points smaller. Give it a try and you'll see it looks nice.
- Use no more than 3 or 4 paragraphs for your letter. And make sure you use enough white space. In this way the letter can be easily scanned by the recruiter. Remember that this is probably not the only letter the recruiter reads in a day.
- End with 'With kind regards' or 'Warm regards' and your signature. For a letter that you want to send by email, you can use a scanned signature that you paste in the document.

If you send the letter by email, make sure that you make a PDF of your letter .

This way you always know that your letter will arrive and will be read as you have written it.

Beware of online services that promise you to write the perfect cover letter.

The length of your cover letter

How long should be your cover letter?

The answer is simple.

Not too long and not too short.

An interesting study asked companies what the ideal length was for them for a cover letter. These were the results:

- Full page 12.6%
- Half page 43.7%
- No preference 19%
- As short as possible 24.1%

So you can say that you're well on the way with a length of half an A4 with a font size of 12pt.

And don't make it much longer than that.

An additional advantage is that you'll have to focus on the most important thing.

7. The follow-up of your letter

Don't think that you're already there when you have sent the cover letter .

There are still a number of things you need to do to get the chance of receiving the coveted invitation to the interview.

Above all, don't wait.

Employers don't like passive employees.

So take action.

Call after 1 week to ask if the letter has arrived. You can immediately use this as an opening sentence.

"I just wanted to inform if my application has arrived".

Then ask what the recruiter thinks of the letter. Tell again how much you would like to meet for an interview. Try to stay on the phone as long as possible without getting annoyed with the aim of dragging in an invitation.

This is an important part in the entire process. Try to gain the trust of the recruiter. Because remember: the more often you have spoken to the recruiter, the sooner he or she will be inclined to invite you.


You may be rejected on the basis of your cover letter. What to do if you aren't invited to an introductory meeting?

Call the company or institution and ask for the person to whom you wrote the letter. Ask why you were not invited to an interview or why you were rejected. Try to find out what it might have been due to:

- Did the cover letter or resume not matching the position?
- Was the letter not up to standard?
- Was the letter not convincing enough?
- Did your skills not show up sufficiently?

It can of course also be that it's not your fault: the position has been canceled or something similar.

Responding positively to someone you have rejected can be difficult.

However, it's important to find out why you were not invited.


You have every right to ask why you haven't been invited. Ask for the most important reasons and take advantage of it with other applications. It will certainly help you write your next letter!

Read more articles in our blog.

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