A persuasive job application including a cover letter is a must in Germany—a resume alone is not enough. Read further to find out how to write a great German cover letter that will leave a good impression on your potential employer.
1. German Cover Letter: Resumes aren’t enough
In other countries, a resume is often enough for applying for a job. Not in Germany! A cover letter that parallels your resume is especially important for German job applications. In the German cover letter your employer should first read about your competencies and second your motivation for applying.
Your cover letter won’t detail which jobs or tasks you had at what time — your resume already provides this information. Instead, take the time to detail your additional value to the company in the cover letter: What competencies or skills did you gain at your past jobs? What know-how do you have to offer? The German cover letter also gives you a chance to mention your soft skills — things like your attitude, social and communication skills, etc.
But be careful: Avoid general statements like “I’m a team player” or “I am engaged and empathetic”. Instead, let the reader infer these things about you through the way you write and the content you present. Finally: A cover letter gives you the room to express what excites you about this job in particular, and why you are passionate about working for this company, specifically.
- Don’t repeat information on your resume
- Emphasize your know-how, experience und personal strengths
- Show excitement for the exact job for which you’re applying
2. Addressing your reader: A name is a must
“To Whom It May Concern” – stop, please! Make the effort to find out who the specific company contact is for your application. Often this information will be included in the job advertisement. If that is not the case, you can research on the company’s webpage to perhaps find the correct contact person. However, the best option is simply to pick up the phone and call the company to ask for the name of the job application contact. This has a positive side effect: Your name has already been heard at the company and, in the best case, you’ve already left behind a good impression.
- Avoid “To Whom It May Concern”
- Research the company contact, perhaps by calling the firm
- Call the company to ask to whom your application should be addressed
3. Good Grammar and No Typos: Mistakes are a No-Go
Don’t bother submitting a job application if you’re not going to check your spelling and grammar first: an application with linguistic mistakes is often thrown directly into the trash. Even small typos or errors aren’t a good omen for your career prospects. These mistakes give the impression that you aren’t careful with your work, or attentive to detail. Let a German native speaker look over your job application to check for mistakes before you submit.
- Spelling or grammatical mistakes are a no-go
- Let a German native speaker look over your application materials
4. The opening sentence in the German Cover Letter: Make them curious
The first sentence of your German cover letter should be compelling and set you apart from other applicants: It must attract attention and awaken curiosity without being silly. A sentence like “I was very interested when I read your job advertisement” or “I am applying for this position…” could be written by anyone of your competitors. Instead, start with information about you personally. This will leave a stronger impression with whoever is reading your application. For example, you could begin with the competencies that you would bring to the company, which fit perfectly with the skills the company said it is looking for in the job ad.
For example: “Experience in *profession*, a *degree in field*, and deep dedication are what I can offer your team as *position*
- Take time crafting the opening sentence
- Awake their curiosity from the beginning
5. Length of the German Cover Letter: Important information in a short space
Typically, a job application shouldn’t be longer than a DIN A-4 page—with two pages being the absolute limit. Paragraph spacing is important for the look of the application, as a paper chockfull of text can scare readers off. While your new boss does want an impression of who you are and what competencies you have, there are also dozens of applications to read through. The art is in addressing the most important information concisely—getting to the point. Standard font-size is 12.
- Address your competencies concisely
- Don’t write longer than a DIN A-4 page
- Font-size 12
6. Font of your German Cover Letter: Readable and professional
The font you use may say more about you than you realize. Studies show that recruiters draw conclusions about you based on the font you use: applications that were identical in content but written in different fonts were judged as having different competency levels by recruiters. Use the same font in all of your application documents; using one font for your resume and another for your cover letter might look sloppy. You should also use a very legible font, one with minimal design (avoid Comic Sans and Bernard). Standard fonts to use include Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia, and Helvetica.
- Use a legible font (Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia, Helvetica)
- Use the same font in all your documents
7. Skills and abilities: Be confident in your German Cover Letter
Be upfront about your talents! Other applicants will beat out whoever is too shy or uncomfortable to name their own strengths. Bragging is of course not a good look either. The golden middle can be hard to find: a healthy dose of confidence should come out in your application, showing you will be an asset to the company Think about it this way: Up until this point you are just a piece of paper that needs to stand out from all the other papers competing for the job – this is your only path to landing an interview!
- Don’t be too humble in your writing
- Present your skills and talents with confidence
8. Employer: Show interest in the specific company
Cater your job application to the specific company to which you are applying. When you send the same standard German cover letter to various companies, the employer will notice. You can stand out to recruiters by showing that you are familiar with the company and by emphasizing what you admire about the company and why you would be a perfect fit there.
- Cater your application to the company
- Emphasize why you want to work at this company specifically, and that you are a good fit.
9. Concluding sentence: Show optimism
Demonstrate your self-confidence when concluding you job application. An application should end with the intention of having an interview in the near future. Don’t ask this using the subjective form (I would really appreciate the opportunity to meet with you for an interview”), instead, write as if you already know they are interested in interviewing you. “I look forward to meeting you in person to discuss this opportunity.”
- Optimistic conclusion
- Don’t use the subjunctive form in the conclusion
You want to find a job in Germany without writing a job application! Try creating a profile on www.employland.de. Employers from Germany search through our profiles for new employees, and contact them over our platform. The job placement is completely free for workers!
Also in our blog: Congratulations, your hard work has paid off: you aced your interview and have been offered the job. What do you need to consider before you can sit at your new desk? We give you an interview: German Employment Contract: Know This Before Signing.
Also important: The apartment search will probably be sitting at the top of your to-do list once you’ve been offered a job in Germany. Finding an apartment isn’t always easy, especially in large cities where landing an apartment can be competitive and expensive. To help you with this, we’ve compiled some tips to keep in mind when looking for an apartment in Germany. Also read: Understanding German Business Etiquette – Tips To Ensure You Succeed
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