How to Internationalize your Cover Letter

06/07/2017 10:33 am ET
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A professional, well-written cover letter can be the key to your dream job. Not only does it highlight your experiences, the cover letter allows employers to see how your professional qualities fit within their company. For those going global, writing a cover letter to an international organization can be tricky: how do you present yourself as an ideal candidate even if you’ve never lived in the culture?

Crafting a globally-focused cover letter is the first step towards presenting yourself as a qualified international candidate. Here are five updates to prep your letter for the global job market.

  1. Show what you know: Read the company website carefully, and gain a clear idea of its mission, values, and culture so that your cover letter highlights your skills in relation to the organization. For example, someone applying to an intercultural communications firm may mention any expertise in managing, organizing, or leading a virtual global team as well as any experiences working abroad. Likewise, an international marketing applicant might showcase their knowledge of global advertising strategies and cross-cultural differences.
  2. Compare and Contrast: Make comparisons, and draw parallels between your country, and that of the organization to which you’re applying. Being able to make cogent observations about how your cultures converge or diverge demonstrates your ability to make broader cross cultural connections and to place yourself on the global map.
  3. Going Global: The cover letter is your chance to highlight your personality and professional strengths. An internationalized letter should emphasize your global curiosity and competencies. Include how any international immersion experiences, second language skills, international adaptability, or cross-cultural management expertise makes you a prime candidate for the organization.
  4. Mind your Measurements: Adjust your letter according to the regional format; for example by writing dates according to the specific customs of the country. Also convert any units of measurement, and remember that the US, Myanmar, and Liberia are the only 3 countries using the imperial measurement system.
  5. Translate: If you’re applying to an organization in a country with a different national language, consider having your letter professionally translated. These translation experts can adjust the phrasing and format according to regional standards. If you are fluent in the country’s language and confident in your foreign language writing abilities, draft a cover letter and ask a native speaker to proofread it before sending it off.

Wherever you may apply, keep these tips in mind when writing an internationally-bound cover letter. Showcasing your global competencies and knowledge of the company is key, along with letting your passion and personality shine through.

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

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