The German cover letter (Anschreiben) is considered one of the most essential parts of application whenever anyone is applying for a job. Usually in United States and other leading countries, the cover letter is ignored, overlooked or glanced at most. But in Germany, the cover letter can either make or break the chance of getting hired. According to research, almost half of the HR professionals in Germany dropped declined applications which didn’t include cover letters.
So, it is quite clear that cover letters are taken seriously in the German job market since it is an applicant’s initial impression on the company. If someone hasn’t attached a cover letter to their application, the recruiter might think that if the applicant hasn’t put effort in making a cover letter, why even consider him/her for a position at our company?
It’s a common practice for companies these days to use HR software that scan documents for particular keywords. A well-written cover letter can increase the chances for topping the applicant pool.
Structuring German Cover Letter
Writing cover letter is easier if a set structure is being followed. The following elements must be included when making a cover letter:
In Germany, there is mostly a contact listed down under job description. It is nice to use a formal greeting in German such as “Dear Frau Schmidt” or “Dear Herr Müller”. If the contact is not listed, we can use a standard greeting like “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager”.
Try to keep the cover letter at a personal touch rather than just making a cut paste document. Make sure we are specifying the reason for joining the xyz company/organization. Present the company research in this phase as well. We can say things like we have been impressed with the company culture or we have recognized the mission and vision for which the company is moving forward and we want to play a pivotal role in this journey.
Example: I was thrilled to view the job posting of Product Manager on Linkedin, and I feel confident that I can help grow your XYZ department in generating high volume revenue – specifically for your upcoming international campaign.
By now, we have told the company/organization why we want to work for them. What shall we do next? We are going to use the mentioned job description in telling a story regarding how and why we are enough qualified for the position. There is no need to exaggerate the story and write down a whole passage. Here we will provide a short trailer-kind of summary. This is because we want to gain their interest so that the company reaches us out and contact for further interview.
Example: My professional management career has focused primarily on project sales. After the completion of my college, I became a project coordinator and then subsequently moved into management role. I have made use of my knowledge to assist hundreds of clients in delivering high-quality service and generating optimum results. Last year, I successfully completed a staggering 8 high-profile projects for international clients.
In the end, we should be thanking the company and let them know that they are welcome to schedule things further. Availability has to be mentioned along with contact details where the company can get in touch.
Example: I have a strong belief that my management background can surely fulfill the defined expectations in the description. I am looking forward to the opportunity of meeting you in person. Thank you for the consideration.
The word Anlage (Enclosure) has to added once the cover letter is signed. All the certificates and documents which are part of the application should be listed down there. This includes CV, educational documents, reference letter etc.
Cover Letter Framework
The cover letter has to written in accordance with DIN 5008. This is a dedicated framework when it comes to formal writing in Germany. Following are the standards:
- Left margin: 24.1 mm
- Right margin: at least 8.1 mm
- Bottom margin: 16.9 mm
- Top margin: 16.9 mm
Please ensure this format is taken seriously. If an applicant hasn’t followed this framework, it doesn’t necessarily mean rejection but on the same time, recruiters in Germany have a habit of reading cover letters in this format. Hence, if a cover letter appears to be different from the mentioned format, it might get noticed in negative manner.
Top 8 Best Practices To Consider Before Writing Your Cover Letter
Cover letters are the first impression of you and as you might have heard that “First Impression is the last impression”. That’s why it is really important that you spend some time on your Cover Letter, below we wrote some of the crucial things which you need to consider before you write your first cover letter in Germany.
Customizing Cover Letter for Each Job
We do agree that it’s hectic and lengthy write a new cover letter whenever applying for a new job. But it is also wrong to send the same cover letter for every other job as it won’t be doing any extra favor. We have to make the employers believe that the candidate has put effort in researching about the company. It should be stated why the candidate wants to join the company and why they find themselves as a right pick for the job. A cover letter with information less than this would portray that the applicant is not interested in the job.
Keeping Cover Letter Short and Concise
It is highly recommended to keep the cover letter in a single page and nothing more than that. And the page should have maximum of three paragraphs. Try to avoid lengthy sentences and do not make excessive use of adjectives. The more easily readable the cover letter, the easier it is for the hiring manager to develop an understanding about the candidate. A good tip is to list down the key points from the curriculum vitae / resume and summarize them in cover letter.
Be Honest on Cover Letter
We have to be honest and humble about things. This includes the work experience, education and language proficiency. It is quite usual to exaggerate or lie when trying to get a job. There is a common saying “fake it until we make it” and people at times follow that too and it turns out favorable in getting a job. But such behavior is extremely unethical and unprofessional.
A recent example is a LinkedIn profile of a former work colleague who stated on the profile that he managed quite a high-end project all on his own at his company. Later it was brought to notice that project didn’t even start until after the colleague left company. He was falsely taking full credit for someone else’s efforts and work.
These kinds of claims can haunt back an applicant. There could be a chance that new employer knows someone from the applicant’s former organization. Moreover, it is common for employers to informally reach out previous companies of candidate to extract some information. This can cost a job and even reputation.
Candidates should never undersell themselves. But at the same time, a good advise is to remain honest.
Writing Cover Letter in German
There are better chances that HR software will notice a cover letter written in German. This also works with algorithms set on LinkedIn. With that being said, we have to be vigilant and use our judgment properly. As it can backfire as well. Make sure that actual German language proficiency is reflected in the cover letter.
There was an instance where the hiring company received an application from a person abroad where the candidate sent CV and documents in German. During the first interview, the company was surprised to know that candidate didn’t know any German. In fact, the documents were actually translated by paying someone else. This resulted in the rejection of a candidate.
Therefore, if the candidate has decided to create cover letter in German, it has to show the German language level on the CV as well as cover letter.
The cover letter should portray all the candidate’s creativity. Coming up with a unique approach is going to make you stand apart in the competition. We can provide a video link in the cover letter where we have explained the reason why we wish to work for that particular company. Also, a sample can be shared explaining insight about how the candidate will approach his/her job. Moreover, the company can be invited to see the candidate’s social media.
The sky is the limit. A unique cover letter is always going to help a candidate be the potential selection among other applicants.
Making Cover Letter Visually Pleasing
We can type some paragraphs in a document and send it to the company. but its much better to create a cover letter that is visually pleasing. Canva is one of the platforms that can help choose from variety of cool and professional templates.
Fonts should be large enough to increase readability. Other tips include avoiding lengthy paragraphs. Accurately set the spacing between lines.
In contrast to this, the curriculum vitae should also have a look similar to cover letter. In this manner, the CV and cover letter will seem like a package and professional.
Grammatical mistakes and spelling errors convey a negative impression of the company. Before sending the application, make sure to avoid such mistakes and take care of these negligible errors. Also briefly check employer information and other related details. A good way of reviewing the cover letter is to have a second pair of eyes proofread it. This is an important task that most people overlook but quite frequently there are job applications having multiple errors on them.
Another key point to observe is that the cover letter should have a good flow portraying a definite narrative. It shouldn’t give away a robot-like essay feel. Rather than just filling the cover letter with fancy keywords, it’s much better to actually write down a well-defined letter that appears to be presentable.
Avoid Using Automatic Text Generators
It is suggested that the candidate write down the cover letter themselves. A professional writer can be hired to provide this service. There are numerous text generators available but they are almost useless. Automatic text generators can produce text that doesn’t make any sense. When reading, it is obvious that a robot has written it down. A cover letter has to be a reflection of a candidate. It should portray how the candidate approaches the job and how they communicate.
As we have mentioned earlier as well, unique cover letters are the key to securing a good position at a reputable organization. Text generators can only spit out words that make no sense. We have to make the employer know why as a candidate we like their company. Skim through their website. Do some research. The candidate should seem fit for the job role and the employer should have enough reasons to believe that. Draw keynotes from the job description and relate them to personal experience or education.
We have put enough emphasis on the importance of a cover letter in Germany. One of the most pivotal instruments in a job application is a good cover letter. If it doesn’t shine enough or fails to reflect the candidate’s potential, employers are likely to ignore it and move forward with other applications.
If a candidate is able to impress the prospective employer with their cover letter, they are highly likely to get an interview. They can easily sell themselves in the interview with their personality. Not to mention that cover letter has to be completely honest. Lying about qualification or achievement will only lead to future trouble.