This post was originally published in 2012. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.
For most applicants, the cover letter is really the hardest part of applying. It gives you the opportunity to mention things that cannot be found on your resume or in any of your qualifications. This is where you can describe what sets you apart from other applicants. After all, there is a certain degree of self-promoting involved in applying. Find out what’s important to the company in advance (from their homepage, for example) and emphasize your strengths in your cover letter accordingly.
Recipient and Subject
Sounds obvious, but it is still done incorrectly from time to time. Make sure you are writing to the correct person. The wrong recipient in the address field gives clues to how thoroughly you prepared. An equally large faux pas is writing the wrong job title in the subject field (for example, writing “application for the medical assistant position” when applying for a position at a day care center).
Keep it Short and Sweet
Try to keep your cover letter short, concise and informative (maximum one page). The reader wants to see something that convinces them you are exactly the right person for the training program. For this reason, describe your motivation and interest in the vocational field. Avoid unnecessary repetition; a cover letter should not recap the entire resume. What is interesting is your personal assessment of your strengths and what makes you qualified for the position. Never use “cliché-adjectives” like, “I am a team player, creative and organized.” Anyone can make this claim, but you can only convey this effectively by giving examples of your qualities with concrete situational examples and experiences.
My tip: avoid typical verbiage from every application guides – the readers are already used to this.
My fingers are crossed for your applications!