The cover letter is the starting point for your job application and the main goal of your cover letter is to make a convincing offer to your potential employer and to make the hiring manager curious about you. You should answer the following questions in your cover letter: Why you are applying for this position and why within this particular company? Which competencies do you possess which are especially interesting for this employer and why you are the right candidate for this job? In this article, you will learn how you should write your cover letter when applying for jobs in Austria and how you can convince the hiring manager to invite you for an interview.
The cover letter should be a maximum of one page long and it should represent a connection between the job ad and your CV. The standard format of an Austrian cover letter is that of a formal letter, with a letterhead of the sender and receiver, a subject line, and a salutation (Source: ZBP).
It is recommended to attach your cover letter as a separate document in your email.
The cover letter is a key for graduates and juniors due to the lack of professional working experience. Writing a perfect cover letter is more important for juniors than for experienced professionals and seniors. Experienced specialists can impress a hiring manager with their working experience and skills in their CV.
Cover letter: Structure
- Final part
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Do your research and try to find out who is the specific contact person for this position. Sometimes it is stated in the job advertisements who is the recruiting manager for this specific position but you can also try to find out on the company’s website or Linkedin. You can also research and find out who is the hiring manager for this position by searching who is the head of this particular team that is looking for a new employee.
Once you find out the contact person address him or her by name. “Dear Ms. Hofbauer”, “Dear Mr. Wagner”. Only use the generally applicable salutation “Dear Sir or Madam” just if you didn’t find any contact person’s name.
If the contact person has a title, this should be also stated because this is important in Austria, for example, “Dear Dr. Hofbauer”,“ Dear Mr. Mag. Wagner ”.
You should make sure that you write the name correctly. Anyone who addresses Ms. Höbling as Ms. Hoblinger will not make a good first impression. Also, make sure not to formulate it too informally such as Hi Ms.Wagner. This is perfectly fine as a salutation in an email if you already know the person. However, when you are applying for a job and writing your cover letter is better to choose the formal variant.
Incorporating your motivation for the company or position in the first paragraph would be a plus (Source: ZBP).
The first sentence can do two things. It can captivate the attention of the reader or it can make him or her bored that they just switch to another candidate.
It should be balanced to arouse the interest of the HR manager and at the same time to show him what is your added value. Please note that hiring managers don’t want to read novels or solve puzzles. Also, you must avoid standard phrases.
Example of a successful start:
“During my bachelor’s thesis, I realized that I wanted to work in retail later. I wrote my thesis on how background music in retail stores encourages customers to make impulse purchases. The combination of sales talent and understanding of numbers, emotions, and objectivity, which is in demand in retail, suits me. I am therefore convinced that your job opening is exactly the right start for me … “
This example arouses curiosity and shows development opportunities.
It is more daring to start with a criticism:
“Even during my bachelor studies, I was asking myself why the logistics industry was lagging behind digitization. I would like to help change that … “
An entry that provokes and could well arouse the anger of the HR department, but at the same time it is extraordinary and exciting (source: Trainees) Please note that the introduction only comprises two or three sentences, maximum of four lines. Therefore, you have little space (and time) to get the reader’s attention.
The applicant has a paragraph or two in the main part. Here he can – or even has to – advertise himself:
Why are you the perfect candidate for this job?
What are you bringing to the table?
Why should it hire you among many other candidates?
Important: Please note that the cover letter is not a continuous version of your CV. Rather, it should show highlights and underline your strengths by giving specific examples. So just pick out individual aspects that you think are important. The cover letter is not about completeness, but about emphasis.
Use your skills to make a direct link to the employer and the job and concentrate on these skills which are the most relevant for the job you are applying for. These can be hard skills or soft skills, preferably a mixture of both. Example: You have mastered a programming language that the employer uses and have already worked in agile teams as an intern (source: Trainee). This shows that you are understanding IT, that you can work in a team, commitment, etc. These are your specific advantages for this job!
The skills you are stating in your cover letter should be relevant to the company and position you are applying for. It is even better if you can show concrete successes and measure them in numbers.
Please avoid writing empty phrases such as teamwork, commitment, or ambition in your cover letter. If you have any gaps in your CV you should explain these gaps in your cover letter.
The final part is formally similar to the introduction. Try to keep it short, don’t write more than a few lines and sentences. You politely say thank you for the interest and state your earliest starting date. You should express your curiosity in an invitation for an interview and maybe you add a so-called call-to-action “ I look forward to hearing from you ”, “ I am very happy about an opportunity to get to know you personally.
The polite greeting at the end is sometimes forgotten by candidates. Say goodbye ” Sincerely ” or
” Yours sincerely”. It is a good idea to include an individual note in the greeting for example by including your location “Best regards from Madrid”.
Overall, the so-called AIDA model provides a good orientation aid for the application letter: first, generate attention, then arouse interest, trigger desire, and initiate an action. It is a seller principle and as an applicant, you are in exactly this role.
A: Attention Generate attention
I: Interest Arouse interest
D: Desire Create a desire to learn more about yourself
A: Action Get the recipient to invite you for an interview
What should be included in the Austrian cover letter?
- Date, place
- Address of the recipient
- Sender’s address
- Subject (e.g. “Application for the Sales Manager position”)
- Salutation (e.g. “Dear Ms. Wagner”)
- Introductory sentence
- The main part (including self-promotion, a reference to the company)
- The final part (possibly with a possible entry date/notice period)
- Greetings (e.g. ” Sincerely “)
- Attachments (curriculum vitae, certificates, additional qualifications)
This does not belong in a cover letter :
- Standard phrases (“I read your job advertisement with great interest”)
- Self-evident (ability to work in a team, willingness to work, ambition …)
- Subjunctive (” I could imagine “, ” I would be happy “)
- Salary expectations (only if requested!)
- Information overkill (not every single station on the résumé is interesting).
Cover letter: This is important
The most important is to pay attention to correct spelling. If you put one mistake after another, you knock yourself out of the race. You can check your spelling by using a Word function called review or by using the Grammarly tool. It is always good to ask another person to review it and to provide you with feedback.
The cover letter should not be longer than one page. This applies in particular to junior position applications. Junior position applicants are usually in their twenties and therefore do not have that much professional experience in their CVs.
The cover letter must have the same font and font size as the resume. The cover letter in Times New Roman, the résumé in Verdana- that would be an annoying beginner’s mistake that shows a lack of care. The font shouldn’t vary.
You are not applying to be a novelist. Therefore: do not use complex clauses with many relative clauses. Your sentences should be short and clear. Write inactive, not passive. Don’t use the subjunctive words and do not start every sentence with ‘I’.
Do not produce mass goods!
That is why you should address the requirements and needs of this particular employer in your cover letter. Example: A US company is looking for a business development manager in Austria. How can you help your potential employer in this role? For example, if you have already completed a semester or internship in the USA, this should be included in the cover letter. You can also state the name of the company and include some current information about the company.
A popular mistake is to “forget” to update the data in your cover letter. Anyone who neglects to replace 2018 with 2021 in the dateline shows that they have put an old application on resubmission. This is a very bad sign to your hiring manager!
Cover letter checklist: Pay attention to it
- Formulate it respectfully and politely
- Set highlights
- Write without errors
- Correct contact name
- Don’t forget your signature
- Data update
- Choose a uniform font
- Choose a reader-friendly font size for example size 12
- Format cleanly (margin, spaces, paragraphs)
- Limit to one page