1. Use an interesting first sentence
There is no second chance for the first impression! If your first sentence is boring your whole letter, even if well written, seems tasteless. Make an interesting or even provocative first sentence which makes your counterpart curious. Some examples:
– Among all other people why should you accept me? I will immediately give you an answer:
– While reading through your university’s homepage I suddenly had an amazing idea:
– While reading your university program, I was not interested. I was amazed.
2. Use the name of the University or company
Studies of psychology researchers have revealed the so-called cocktail party effect. That phenomenon describes the brain’s ability to focus one’s auditory attention on a particular stimulus while filtering out a range of other stimuli. In other words, your name in the middle of other information will always attract your attention. To make sure that the person reading your letter does not lose attention write the name of the university often to get their attention back.
3. Use easy and short sentences
Most personnel managers or admission staff have a lot of applications and admissions to read. Therefore, they only read every sentence once. If the sentence is too long or very complicated to remember they just ignore it. Therefore: Do not use passive, write maximal two clauses per sentence, avoid relative pronouns like “which” and “who” in the middle of a sentence.
4. Use the same wording as the university or company
Researchers found out that common points create trust and rapport. Let your counterpart know that you share the same views or that you can exactly do what they want. You can just copy and paste their sentences from their homepage.
5. Make compliments
Everyone likes to hear compliments. The more specific compliments, the more powerful they are. Best is to tell a compliment your counterpart is very proud of. Be aware that you sound authentic by telling exactly why something impresses you.