You’ve found a job you want, you’ve updated your CV, and now you’ve turned your attention to the cover letter. You soon get stuck. You’ve written the words ‘Cover Letter’ at the top of the page, but then what? A blank page stares back at you and you have no idea where to start. Here are some tips for going about writing that darn thing. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered for both general cover letter writing tips as well as specific tips for writing a cover letter for China.
Staring at a blank screen when you should be writing a cover letter?
Source: William Brawley
The structure of a cover letter
A good cover letter should be around 3-4 paragraphs and no longer than a page. At the top of the page you should include your full name and contact details (this could either be in the Header or formatted on the top right hand side of the page. It is also a good idea to include the date. Write the date out in long form, e.g. 4th September 2013, to make it as clear as possible.
It is then important to find out the name of the person you are contacting. Don’t write ‘Whom it may concern’ as this sounds impersonal. Use Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss and double check that you’ve spelt their name right. Remember in China that Surnames are written first. So you could either write Dear Ms Liu Yu or Ms Liu.
In the first paragraph you should mention the title and reference number (if applicable) of the position you are applying for, how you came to see the job advertisement or the name of a mutual contact and why you are interested in the position.
Body of the cover letter
You can then go on to detail how your experience, qualifications and interests can help the company achieve its goals.
In the final paragraph it is worth reinstating your interest in working with them, thanking them for considering you application and mentioning what attachment there are to the cover letter, for example a CV or a list of references.
‘Respectfully yours’ and ‘Yours sincerely’ are both appropriate sign offs. Then sign your name and add your name printed underneath.
The content of a cover letter
While your resume is there to highlight your past work experiences to employers, the cover letter is your opportunity to them what you can accomplish, show that you know what they are after and how you could be an asset to their team.
Research before you write
Before you begin writing your cover letter, make sure you research the company thoroughly. Read through their website, brochures, it doesn’t hurt to ring them up and ask some questions either, and then research their industry more broadly. Think about problems this industry is facing, or where it looks to be heading. Consult specialized publications, and newspaper.
Then reread the job description, pulling out all the required qualifications and skills for the position. Using the job description and the research you’ve done into the company you can then identify their needs and objectives.
With this information in mind you can then explain how you could help them achieve their goals and that you know what the position would require of you.
The body of the cover letter
It may sound obvious but your cover letter should be tailored to each specific position you are applying for. You don’t have to write an entirely new one but it should be re-edited.
Ensure that you are using keywords from the job description throughout the cover letter as this will ensure you stay on message. Detail the various qualifications you have for this position, giving examples where appropriate. Emphasise relevant sections of your CV, this could include activities you’ve done or jobs you’ve had relating to China, as this will impress potential employers.
The tone of a cover letter
A cover letter should be concise and relevant. Avoid using clichés or overly wordy expressions. Keep the tone of your cover letter upbeat and enthusiastic. And this is the hardest bit, in Chinese culture humility is appreciated far more than arrogance, and language that may not seem arrogant back home, may appear so in China, so keep it humble people.
Before sending it off
It may be a good idea to send potential employers two copies of your cover letter; one in English and one in Chinese. Even if the position you are applying for is in English, you can’t be sure that the first person to check your cover letter and CV will be able to understand English.
If you are sending your documents via email, don’t copy and paste the cover letter into the body of the email. It is much better to add it as an attachment and then in a couple of sentences explain who you are, what position you would like to apply, and what documents you have attached in the body of the email. Write something like “Application for xxxx position” in the subject line of the email.
Right so there you have it. Not so hard is it…Yes yes it is still quite hard but hopefully now you won’t spend a whole day staring at a blank piece of paper.
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Keywords: writing a cover letter for China cover letter for jobs in China; chinese employers
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Would like to read more about keeping a humble tone. Hard to do when the whole point of the letter is to sell yourself as the best candidate for the job. “I'm a pretty average worker nothing special. All my past successes were due to luck and good coworkers. But you should totes hire me!”
Jun 09, 2016 05:13 Report Abuse
Thank you very much for the really helpfull article. Actually, to be frank, it helped me twice: to write a cover letter and to get a point to my account, so I have 20 points total and I can see how many applicants got an interest to a certain vacancy :-)
May 05, 2016 19:37 Report Abuse