How to write a German cover letter - a step-by-step guide (2023)

vonCheryl Howard|10 January 2023|Berlin travel guide,applications,Working in Berlin|0 comments

How to write a German cover letter - a step-by-step guide (1)


were you lAre you looking for a job in Germany, applying for several positions and not getting an answer? That happens to the best of us, even those who work thereprofessions in high demandsuch as software developers, marketers, economists and more.

Looking for a job, especially one for you, is a daunting task that takes timea lotwork, patience and perseverance. If you add to that job hunting in a foreign country like Germany, it becomes even more challenging. You are probably not familiar with the country-specific standards when writing applications and could unknowingly make mistakes. In addition, a lot of the information on writing a German cover letter is often outdated and/or was created by people with no recruiting experience.

The most important part to being noticed by German employers is your ability to craft a solid application, which usually includes a well-written and crafted cover letter and CV that tells a story about you and why you are uniquely qualified for the position .

How to write a German cover letter - a step-by-step guide (2)


📖 📖 📖Bookmark THIS in-depth guide to writing a German cover letter and use it as a guide when applying for jobs in Germany.

1) Are cover letters really needed?

Have you asked yourself these questions when looking for a job in Berlin or anywhere else in Germany:

1) Do I have to write a German cover letter for applications?

2) Are cover letters relevant if my resume already tells my story?

3) Does anyone even bother to read cover letters?


Let me tell you a story:

I was working for a company when a member of management asked me, "Why do people write cover letters? Ineverread them. Just want to see your resume and message me if it's interesting. I'm way too busy to read a cover letter and CV.”

A very fair point and I agree with him 100%. His pain was my pain as well as I reviewed multiple applications each day looking for people we could potentially add to our team. It was time consuming and tedious, especially when we wanted to make sure everyone who applied got a fair chance.

It's true that not every recruiter or hiring manager will read it (like this manager), and some companies (like the one I currently work for) even ask candidatesnotto submit a cover letter. However, many companies still expect to see one.

So you need a German cover letter? Yes, in any case.While they may feel like a waste of time (and sometimes they really are), cover letters are essential when applying to Berlin or anywhere else in Germany.

2) Why should I write a German cover letter?

There are some good reasons why you should take the time to write a cover letter for your application:

1) There is a small chance that not submitting a cover letter will result in an outright rejection. A recruiter or hiring manager may think if you haven't bothered to write a cover letter, why would they even consider you for the job? While it's silly, don't take chances and make it a habit to always include a cover letter.

​2) Some (not all) HR software scans submitted documents and searches for specific keywords. A cover letter that mentions certain keywords from the job description could help you climb to the top of the candidate pool, where you're more likely to stand out in front of other candidates.

3) In Germany called letter of motivation (Motivation letter), a cover letter is your chance to shine. Then you can tell the company why you want to work for them, explain how uniquely qualified you are for the role, and really showcase your personality.

Think of it this way - when you go to the cinema to see a movie, you see trailers for upcoming movies. They only last a minute or two, but if the trailer is really good, they will have you hooked and eventually you will go out and watch this movie.

Your cover letter is just like this movie trailer. It's a preview of your CV and you as a person. A cover letter's most important call-to-action is to get the person reading it to learn more. They will take the time to review your resume and hopefully contact you for the first interview.

4) A cover letter shows diligence and interest on your part. Employers want to know why you want to work for them, why you are the person they should hire and if you are passionate about your chosen field.

When a cover letter is well done, in the sense that it is designed as a well-written and compelling narrative, it motivates the employer to contact you for an interview.Most people actually read them, so it pays to spend time writing one that sets you apart from other applicants.

3) How do I design a German cover letter?

If you follow a fixed structure and method that you can repeat for each new job application, writing a cover letter becomes a lot easier.

Always include these important elements in a cover letter:

How to write a German cover letter - a step-by-step guide (3)

1)Salutation– Address your cover letter to this person with formal German greetings such as “Dear Mr. Müller” or “Dear Mrs. Schmidt”. If no contact is listed or you're not sure what greeting to use (for example, you never want to address someone as "Mr." if it's a woman), use a generic greeting like "Dear Hire Manager" or "To whom it May concern." If you read other online texts that say youalwaysneed to provide a specific contact name, this is very untrue. More and more German companies are doing without adding contact names to job descriptions so as not to be spammed by applicants. So don't stress this point at all, as using a generic greeting is not only expected, it's entirely acceptable.

2 Introduction– This section should be no more than one paragraph. Personalize your cover letter by telling the companywhy you want to work thereBe specific and use supporting examples from business research. This will impress the company and show that you've done your homework before applying. Remember, this section is not about you, it is about you as an organization. Avoid making self-serving statements when telling them why you want to work there. For example, don't say you want to work there because the office is right next to your home or because you've heard that the salaries there are exceptionally high. Instead, say that you're impressed with the company's culture, that you identify with its sustainability mission, and that you want to be a part of building the next phase of its growth.

3) About you– This section can be a paragraph or two long and is the “meat” of the cover letter and is where you need to sell yourself. Pull out points from the job description to share with your prospective employerwhy you are particularly qualified for the position. Build on these points using personal examples based on your experience, education, and more. Make sure your examples are specific, complement each other, and tell a compelling story. Explain that the role requires someone with leadership experience. You can tell them you have 10 years of experience leading distributed teams of different sizes. You can also say that you excel at building and maintaining high-performing teams with a track record of meeting deadlines. And finally, tell them how you started a project that helped the company make millions of euros. Whatever you do, don't just list a bunch of keywords, repeat the job description yourself, or write a novel.

4) CloseG– Repeat your enthusiasm for the company and the vacancy. Let them know you're interested in learning more and would appreciate an interview opportunity. Be sure to let them know your availability and the best way to get in touch with them.

A few more tips for structuring a German cover letter:

1) If you send the cover letter by e-mail or upload it to an applicant management system, you do not have to provide any address data for yourself or the company. No signature is required for this either. These things are totally unnecessary and irrelevant as we are no longer living in the Stone Age.

2) If someone prints or refers to your cover letter for an interview, you can put the date on it so they know when you applied for the job.

(Video) How to write a next level COVER LETTER ? Shared my own GERMAN COVER LETTER ! #CoverLetter

Make an effort to ensure that the narrative in the letter flows well and tells a unique story about you and why they should hire you over everyone else.

4) Should I customize my cover letter for job applications??

yes we know It isa lotof work to create a new cover letter every time you apply for a job, but sending out the same cover letter is no longer sufficient. You need to show employers that you took the time to research their company, tell them why you want to work there and why they should hire you.

That is why the personalization of the cover letter is very important. You need to see the real you and that you were thoughtful in your application. Anything else gives the impression that you are not really interested in the position and your application could end up in the recruiter's NO pile.

Suppose a cover letter is simply a repetition of the job description or generic copy-paste text that you used for each application. The recruiter or hiring manager will be able to easily spot this and reduce the likelihood that the company will contact you. Do not take any risks.

Read how to customize your cover letter if it's youthe submission of unsolicited applications.

5) How do I use company research in my cover letter?

Before writing a cover letter, we recommend that you do some research about the company you are applying to. Research will help you a lot, especially as it gives you the information to embed in your cover letter and use later to ask questions during an interview.

You need to tell the employer why you like their company and show that you've done your research by checking it outGlassdoor reviews, browse their website, read their press releases, etc.

Read our detailed guide on how to do thisResearch a German company.

6) How long should a German cover letter be?

Keep the cover letter to one page and no more than 3-4 paragraphs. Be concise (i.e. avoid long, wordy sentences or excessive use of adjectives) andsummarize, summarize, summarize.

Select key points from your resume and/or job description, but don't repeat things verbatim.

7) Should I use an automatic text generator or AI?

I played around with itChatGPT and boy is it good. How really very good!

Call me old school, but in general I would still suggest writing your own cover letter without the help of text recognition generators or AI.

I say this for two reasons:

1) Many of these generators like Write quickly result in text that makes no sense at all. It often reads as if written by a robot and spits out alt text that says exactly the same thing but in a slightly different way.

2) Worse, it won't sound like you. A cover letter should honestly and accurately reflect who you are and how you communicate. I cannot stress this enough, especially if you are being hired in a position where communication skills are vital.

What you could do is use AI to write that very first draft of a cover letter. Then you could use this text as a basis and improve it with your own words. Try thisImagine Beta AIto start!

Alternatively, you can write a draft first and then use a tool such asGrammatikto improve what you wrote.

We know this can be difficult if you are not writing in your native language. In these cases, make sure that other people proofread your cover letter, or even hire a professional to help you.

8) Should I write my cover letter in German??

If you write your cover letter in German, you can be recognized by HR software or LinkedIn search engine algorithms.

However, be careful and use your best judgment here. It could backfire if they find out that your German level doesn't match what your cover letter says.

(Video) Write an Amazing Cover Letter: 3 Golden Rules (Template included)

Let me tell you another story:

A recruiter I used to work with told me that she had found a dream candidate for a long-standing position. This person applied from abroad and had submittedbothCV and cover letter in German.

The first job interview was scheduled and during the phone call the recruiter was surprised to find that the candidate spoke no German at all. It turned out that they had paid someone to translate their documents.

Unfortunately, the candidate was rejected due to his false claim of being fluent in German and wasting the recruiter's time. And contrary to what many say, proficiency in the German language is absolutely essential for most available positions in the country.

Of course, it could also work the other way around and the company still hire you because you fit in so well with us. But please be honest in advance and if you decide to write your cover letter in German, state your language level (e.g. B1 or C1) in the CV and cover letter in a very visible way. Then the decision is left to the employer to contact you.

9) Can I stretch the truth because everyone cheats a little?

Above all, be humble and honest about things like your education, work experience, German level, etc.

It's easy to lie or exaggerate when you want a job and we've all been told to "fake it 'til we make it" and in many cases it can work in your favour. But let's face it, this behavior is unprofessional, let alone unethical.

Not long ago I was shocked to read the LinkedIn profile of a former colleague who claimed to have led a high profile project for our company. This project didn't even start until that person left. This person lied openly and acknowledged other people's work that they did not do.

Don't be that person.

False claims could come back to haunt you. For example, the Berlin community is small and everyone knows each other. A potential employer may know someone at one of your previous companies and contact them informally for information about you.

If they uncover any lies, it will likely cost you your job, even your reputation.

Of course, be confident in your accomplishments and don't undersell yourself. Just make sure you tell the truth.

10) How do I create a well-crafted cover letter?

You could just type a bunch of text into a Google Doc and submit it. But how about sharing your cover letter with websites likecanvasorBearbeiten.orgwhere you can find beautiful and professional templates for free?

Other things to note:

1) Use a large and legible font that respects general accessibility guidelines. Sometimes people try to cram as much information as possible into a cover letter and fit it onto a single page using ridiculously small font sizes. Trust me - nobody wants to read your cover letter with a magnifying glass.

use thisInstructions from Indeedwhich speaks for the right font and font size in the CV, which also applies to cover letters.

2) Don't make your paragraphs too long and use sensible spacing so that your cover letter is easier to read.

3) youGerman CVshould have a similar appearance. The cover letter and CV appear as a flowing application package.

11) I doReallyDo you have to follow these rules?

No of course not! Our guidelines are only intended to help you write a good cover letter that will make you more visible to German employers.

There's no reason not to get creative and have fun with your cover letter. This may also mean breaking some of the “rules” described here.

Be bold and dare to take unique approaches that challenge the status quo. Maybe give them a link to a video you made and explain why you want to work there. Share an example of what you can do for them by providing an insight into how you would go about your work. Invite them to visit your blog or social media.

The sky is the limit. A unique cover letter will help you stand out from other candidates.

12) How can I ensure that my German cover letter is of high quality?

Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors, get the company name and other details correct, and if possible, have a second or third pair of eyes review your cover letter. This can be a friend, partner, or even a paid professional. Proofreading is essential because when you've been staring at the same documents for hours, it can be very easy to miss small mistakes you may have made.

This advice may sound very obvious and simple, but believe me, I've seen countless applications with errors. I also have to confess that I once put the wrong company name on a cover letter and somehow got several interviews with them anyway. Miracles happen folks! 🤣

(Video) Write your German Cover letter with this free online tool #HalloGermany

In any case, avoid sloppy mistakes if you can and make sure your German cover letter is top notch.

What do I recommend?join mineFacebook-Communityfrom more than 8,000 people and ask someone there for oneexchange cover letters. Another person can review your cover letter and give you feedback, and you can do the same for them.

That's a wrap! Follow these tips to write a really good German cover letter that will get you a job in Germany.


What you need to know about notice periods in Germany

vonCheryl Howard|March 1, 2023|Berlin travel guide,employee info,Working in Berlin| 0 comments

People who are used to giving 2 weeks notice at work are often surprised when they learn about the long notice periods in Germany, which can be > 30 days.

What are the best websites for job hunting in Berlin?

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Many people feel overwhelmed when they know where to look for jobs in Berlin. Bookmark our list of the best Berlin job search websites to get started.

Don't make these German cover letter mistakes

vonCheryl Howard|February 6, 2023|Berlin travel guide,applications,Working in Berlin| 0 comments

There is a lot of wrong information about how to apply for a job in Germany. Let us help and avoid these mistakes in the German cover letter.

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  • How to write a German cover letter - a step-by-step guide (7)

    Cheryl Howard

    I've been a Canadian in Berlin for more than 10 years and have the unique experience of moving to Berlin - not just once, but twice. I had five different visas and worked both as a freelancer and as a permanent employee. As a long-time Berliner, career coach and HR manager, I write guidebooks on living and working in Berlin, offer coaching and offer opportunities to network with a broader community. Through the combination of my personal and professional experience, I know exactly what it takes to move to Berlin and find work.

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(Video) How to write your Cover Letter with German Format (Anschreiben) | English template


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