How to Write Great Cover Letters for China Job Applications

How to Write Great Cover Letters for China Job Applications
Sep 20, 2023 By eChinacities.com

You’ve been looking around eChinaJobs and found a bunch of great positions. You’ve updated and uploaded your CV to the site, but the employers are asking for cover letters. Maybe you’ve written them before in your home country, but are things different in China? Let’s take a look at how to write great cover letters for China job applications.

How to Write Great Cover Letters for China Job Applications

Before you start

Even if the job advert doesn’t specifically ask for a cover letter, it’s always best to include one. Before you begin, make sure you research the company and the job thoroughly. Read through the job posting several times, pulling out all the required qualifications and skills for weaving into your cover letter. Have a good look at their website and social media (including the Chinese versions if possible) to get an idea of their style and values.

Next, do some research into the industry and think about where the company may be heading or the problems they may be facing. Having all this information to hand will help you explain why you’re the right person for the role and how you can help the company achieve its goals.

The tone of your cover letter should be serious and professional, unless you’ve come across something that suggests otherwise in your research. A company that uses lots of slang and jokes on its website and social media channels, for example, might appreciate something a little more upbeat and less formal.

Be enthusiastic but avoid using clichés or overly wordy expressions. And — this is the hardest bit — try not to be toooo boasty while you’re selling yourself. Humility is appreciated more than arrogance in Chinese culture, so back up any assertions about your awesomeness with solid examples and keep it relatively humble.

Cover letter structure & contents

Topline stuff

A good cover letter should be tight and concise. No HR executive, especially in China, has time to read more than around 3-4 paragraphs per candidate. Include your full name and contact details, including your WeChat ID, at the top, either as a Header or formatted on the top right-hand side of the page. Write the date out in long form, e.g. “4th September 2022,” to avoid any confusion with date formatting styles.

Wherever possible, try to find out the name of the person you’re contacting. Use “Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss” and double-check that you’ve spelt their name right. Remember that surnames are written first in China, so you could either write “Dear Ms Liu Yu” or “Dear Ms Liu,” for example. Write “To whom it may concern” if you can’t find a name.

If you’re sending your application via email, you can either copy and paste the cover letter into the body of the email or send it as an attachment. If you choose the latter, use a couple of sentences to explain who you are, what position you’re applying for and the documents you’ve attached in the body of the email. Write something like “Application for xxxx position” in the subject line.

First paragraph of cover letter

Mention the title and reference number (if applicable) of the position you are applying for, how you came to see the ad or the name of a mutual contact who put you onto it in the first paragraph of your cover letter. Remember that in China, guanxi goes a long way, so if someone already at the company told you about the position or you have any other connections with the company, be sure to mention them.

Main body of cover letter

You can then go on to detail how your experience, qualifications, personal qualities and interests will help the company achieve its goals. While your resume is there to highlight your past work experience, the cover letter is an opportunity to express your interest in this specific role and company and really show that you know what they’re after.

It may a bit more work, but every cover letter should be tailored to each specific position you apply for. You don’t have to write an entirely new one each time, but be sure to edit sufficiently so it’s clear you’re not just copying and pasting a generic template. 

Ensure you’re using keywords from the job ad throughout, as this will help you stay on message. These days, many HR departments in China also use CV skimming software that picks out the applications that contain their target keywords. It’s therefore a good idea to edit your CV accordingly.

Emphasise any China-specific experience, interests and knowledge, too, as this will be important to employers here. Whenever possible, demonstrate your commitment to working in China long-term, as many local employers consider expats to be flakey and therefore a hiring risk.

Final paragraph of cover letter

Restate your excitement about the position and thank them for considering your application in your final paragraph. If you’re sending in your application by email, mention what attachments you’re including, such as a CV, a portfolio and a list of references. "Respectfully yours” and “Yours sincerely” are both appropriate sign offs.

Consider a translation

If you’re applying for a job that requires some level of Chinese skills, or if you just want to impress, it’s definitely a good idea to send a Chinese version of your cover letter. Don’t just rely on translation apps, however, as a patchy translation may do more harm than good. Have a Chinese friend look it over if you decide to go down this route. Remember, however, that although a good cover letter in Mandarin could secure you an interview, you’ll most likely be expected to prove your oral proficiency in said interview, if and when it comes around.

So there you have it — how to write great cover letters for China job applications. Happy writing and good luck!

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5 Comments

All comments are subject to moderation by eChinacities.com staff. Because we wish to encourage healthy and productive dialogue we ask that all comments remain polite, free of profanity or name calling, and relevant to the original post and subsequent discussion. Comments will not be deleted because of the viewpoints they express, only if the mode of expression itself is inappropriate.

ANGEL0

I'm good in English and I'm looking for a online teaching job in china 0826038283

Nov 07, 2023 02:21 Report Abuse

sorrel

Did you apply for any jobs? And I suggest you check your grammar - it should be "I'm good AT English" - this is basic. Thirdly, NEVER put any personal contact information such as an email address or phone number on a public forum. Employers are not going to contact you. You are asking to be trolled (or worse)

Nov 11, 2023 01:52 Report Abuse

Guest16723264

work on your grammar

Dec 31, 2023 03:04 Report Abuse

sorrel

this is no different from writing a cover letter in any other country. China is not special in this regard.

Sep 20, 2023 17:09 Report Abuse