Whereas the lay-out and style determine the first impression you give, the body of your letter has to do the real work. Its job is to make sure you get invited to an interview.

If you have got the right profile for a job, but you don't know how to voice your motivation and background, you're lost.

A cover letter has got a number of fixed elements.

1. Reference to the vacancy (in the case of a referral letter)

State the exact name of the vacancy, where you found it and when. In a paper-based cover letter you can use a subject line for this information.

2. Motivation

State your reason for replying to a job ad.

3. Argumentation

The argumentation is the core of your cover letter. It focuses on the elements which make you into a unique candidate. For one candidate, this might be a vast marketing experience, while the other may wish to focus on an extensive knowledge of languages.

4. Flash forward to the interview

At the end of your letter, mention your willingness to come to the job interview. Say when you are available. Make your final sentence a positive one.

You do not always have to follow this model exactly. For some reasons it might be appropriate to alter the order.

You might also want to turn to the AIDA-structure from sales letters to make your cover letter more appealing.

But there should always be a logical and consistent structure both within and between the paragraphs.

It might be useful to consider the three steps in writing and to have a look at some do's and don'ts.