Your cover letter is the first written impression that an employer has of you and is therefore your chance to convince with your abilities and strengths.
It is important to read the description of the job that you apply for carefully and think about which parts of your profile match the requirements. You need to know your competencies and how to prove them. If have a list of all the arguments, you want to include, it's time to start writing!
If you apply within Germany, there are some guidelines which you should abide by, even if you write in English. If you apply for a job in a different country, make sure to research the standards there!
Even if you upload your cover letter or send it as an attachmend in an e-mail: the cover letter is supposed to look a letter you would send by mail. Everything has a norm in Germany and you are correct to assume that there is a norm for your cover letter as well: DIN 5008, also known as the business letter. It includes:
- Your contact information, together with your mobile number and a (serious) e-mail adress
- The adress of the employer together with the name of the recipient
- A reference (Usually the position you apply for and a reference code)
- A form of Adress (preferably with the name of the recipient)
- A complimentary close
- your signature (as a scanned picture!)
It is difficult to make general statements of the contents. However, you only have one page and have to focus on the most important aspects. A main body with three parts could look like this:
- In the first paragraph, you talk about your university degree as your highest formal qualification. Mention relevant projects, focuses or the topic of your thesis and include skills which you have formed during your time at university
- The second paragraph describes your work experience. This includes side jobs, internships, volunteer work, etc. Always link tasks and skills that are demanded in the job with specific tasks and experiences in your past.
- The third paragraph is your opportunity to include further skills that could be useful for the job or your motivation.