When a company searches for a new employee, several hundreds applicants could send their CVs. The HR department of the company I work for told me that sometimes a cover letter could be a crucial element in why they might decide to invite someone for an interview or not. If you plan to apply for a job in Germany, you have to learn how to write a German cover letter.
Let’s start and let me provide you with the essential information about cover letters in Germany in this article.
- This article sheds more light on what the German cover letter is all about.
2. A cover letter is a helpful extension of your CV.
3. It gives you a great chance to introduce and position yourself as the person your new employer should choose.
4. I am also providing you with some tips about the length, essential formulas, writing styles, and the required contents of the cover letter in Germany.
5. At the end of this article, you will find a personal recommendation for finding professional cover letter writers online who can help you write it.
What is the German cover letter?
Alongside the German CV, you should also make sure that you are sending a German cover letter. Even if the cover letter does not prioritize the preselection of candidates for further interviews, it might make a significant difference in the end.
The German SPIEGEL Magazine published an article about the importance of cover letters for an application in Germany. The interviewed recruiting professional states in this article:
“However, a job application is about working together in the future. Therefore, you’d better use the cover letter to tell a potential employer what is important to you in your job and how you would like to work together in the future.”
Based on my experience, you should never miss that chance to impress your future employer. It may make a difference if your CV is similar to others or might not fit 100% to the job offered.
Definition of the German Cover letter
Think about a German cover letter as an extended introduction to:
- who you are
- the reason you are sending the application
- why you are a good fit
- and why you could be of benefit to the company you are applying to.
It allows you to paint a more detailed picture about yourself instead of relying only on your CV. This strings together all the stages of your professional and educational life.
As you can see, a German cover letter can include quite some information about yourself.
This leads me to the next point, why an email instead of a cover letter is not enough.
The German Cover letter is not an email
Most applications are now submitted online and no longer by mail. Whether you send your email or submit your CV and cover letter via a recruiting platform, they should not confuse a cover letter with an email.
If you send your CV via email, you should not mistake the email with your written cover letter. Your email can be short and sweet. There you can provide some basic information, such as your name and the name of your contact person, if available.
In the email you’ll be stating that you are sending your CV and your cover letter and asking for a reply.
The cover letter should be a separate PDF file or Microsoft Word Document.
Tipps regarding the German cover letter
Here are a few tips that I collected from my German friends.
Length of German cover letter
A German cover letter should be roughly one to two DIN A 4 pages long.
I recommend you not write a cover letter that’s longer than this because hardly anyone will be willing to read it.
In general, using a larger spacing between lines and a comfortable to read font size will support the recipient’s efforts to read it.
Opening and closing formulas
It would help if you always used polite and formal addressing and closing formulas.
As you might be aware, there is a standard version for “you” in German: “Sie.” This is how Germans address everyone they are not closely acquainted with.
Even if you know your first point of contact in the company you apply to, I’d still not recommend the informal version for “you” used as “Du” in German.
But why is that?
Most likely, more people will be reading your cover letter throughout the application process. And it’s considered impolite in Germany to use “Du” instead of “Sie.”
Standard addressing formulas are, for example:
“Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,” meaning “dear sir or madam,” is the most general variation.
If you know your first point of contact by name, you can also address them by using, for example, “Sehr geehrter Herr Weidel,” which means “Dear mister Weidel” in English.
Always address them with their family name, not with their first name.
It’s best to close a cover letter using the standard formula “Mit freundlichen Grüßen,” similar to “Best regards” in English.
Make sure you add your name with some white space in between so that you can sign the letter manually before sending it out.
You should make sure not to write any lengthy sentences. Better keep your sentences as short as possible. This helps the reader quickly grasp the content and understand what you are writing about without having to overthink it.
Individual cover letters
Even if you are applying for more than just one position at once, make sure you rewrite your cover letter every time.
You should tailor he cover letter should to the company you apply to.
You can’t use the central part of a cover letter for more than one job application.
Reading through the job offering or job ad is crucial. It is better if something stands out that you can refer to in your cover letter. If specific personal strengths are required, give a short and easy-to-understand how you meet up.
Answers to questions
Are there any questions included in the job advertisement? If so, answer them and make sure that you answer all of these in your German cover letter.
Refer to the company you apply to
Since nobody likes to receive a mass-produced application, make sure that you mention something that stood out for you while informing yourself about the company you apply to. Allow them to understand why you chose to apply for that specific job in their company.
Grammar and spelling
Of course, taking care of any grammar or spelling mistakes is always a good idea. If possible, let a professional read through your cover letter. If you have no professional at hand, you might have to find someone capable of reading and writing German fluently enough to support you here. I have always used Fiverr* for that kind of service in the past.
The structure of the German cover letter
From a structural point of view, a German cover letter can be a bit longer than you might have experienced that so far in your home country.
At the very top of the page, please include:
- your full name
- phone number
- and other contact information
Also Include the full name and address of the company. And the name of the contact person you address the cover letter to, in case you know the name.
As a last formality, include the date and subject matter.
You can then address the person the cover letter is written for by name or use the standard formula of “Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren” as mentioned above.
Now it’s time to divide the cover letter into four different paragraphs.
First paragraph – Introduction
Make sure that you introduce yourself and give the reader why you are applying for the specific job. Some ideas might be that you recently relocated to Germany and are now searching for a job. Another option might be that you want to make a career change. It should be clear to the reader what your intention is.
Second paragraph – Your professional experience
The second paragraph is about your professional experience, skillset, and abilities. If there is anything worth mentioning that you believe would help you stand out from other applicants, please consider mentioning it.
Suppose you are still working outside of Germany. In that case, you might also consider providing some details about your current position, the company you are working for, and the daily tasks you are regularly doing.
If you achieved anything remarkable in the past that might benefit your future employer, let them know about it. It’s another chance for you to shine.
Third paragraph – About the company and the reason why
Before writing this paragraph, think about why the company should hire you instead of someone else.
How can you be of benefit to your future employer?
Try to describe why you are a good fit for the position, the job offered, and how you might fit into the team.
You should consider finding out more about the company you apply for and get some background information.
Since it’s not unlikely that people will search for you on LinkedIn, do the same and search for the company there.
You will most likely get a good idea about their corporate structure and maybe even about the team you would be working with.
Fourth paragraph – Closing
In the last paragraph, you should state that you are interested in the company and the position. Thank the person or the people who would read your cover letter for considering you for the offered job.
Also, please mention that you’d be looking forward to meeting them in person or virtually for the interview soon. And that you are looking forward to a reply.
Let professionals write the German cover letter for you
Germans who changed their position quite often are all used to writing those cover letters as they have a long history in the German application process.
Writing a cover letter as a foreigner based on German standards can be challenging.
Why use a professional cover letter writer?
You should use a professional cover letter writer for your application if you are not 100% familiar with the German language and application process.
Cover letter writers whose native language is German can help you create a perfect cover letter for you.
Your chances of success with your application, assuming your CV already looks interesting, will be significantly higher when you send over a well-written German cover letter.
Where to find a professional cover letter writer?
From my own experience, finding an excellent German cover letter writer is not difficult.
I have a great experience with the freelancer platform called Fiverr*. You can search for “German cover letter” there and find good results.
I want to give you one piece of advice to choose someone located in Germany and whose native language is German.
They are most likely very familiar with the specifications and can write fluently in German.
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