Table of Content

  1. What is a cover letter?
  2. How to format a German cover letter?
  3. How to write a German cover letter?
  4. What are the characteristics of German cover letters?

A cover letter is an essential document in your job search. It gives the recruiter more information about your experience and who you are.

Writing a cover letter in German is not easy, as the structure and the language are different from other languages.

Unlike American or British cover letters, for example, a German cover letter must be very concise. They usually do not exceed 1 page.

This guide explains the structure and the vocabulary of a German cover letter. It will help you write one that will grab the attention of your recruiter. 

1. What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a document to send with your resume and references to introduce yourself, explain your motivations and ask for an interview. It is important to write one as it shows companies why you are qualified and your motivation to work for them. It is your opportunity to explain why you are a good fit for the job and it is also the first point of contact between you and the employer.

A German cover letter is different and has a different goal than a resume. It is not simply another way of writing what is already in your CV. You need to go deeper into your career path in correlation with the job description, and you need to show your motivation.

Application

Usually, the cover letter is the second document that a recruiter will read, after the resume. But you need to know that fewer companies are requesting these letters, but most formal companies do.

2. How to format a cover letter?

A good German cover letter should be a 1-page long A4 letter that you write yourself, and includes the following:

Contact details:

Your address and contact details, so the employer can get in touch with you.

Introduction:

  • A short paragraph with relevant information about yourself to show why you would fit the job.
  • The position you’re applying for.

Main part:

  • Your experience and qualifications as prompted by the job description.
  • The name of the person or people who have referred you to the company (if applicable).
  • A list of your achievements, showing how you’ve used the previous experience to benefit your current role.
  • An explanation of your motivation to get this job.

End:

  • Your earliest starting date
  • If specifically asked, your salary expectations
  • Regards and signature

3. How to write a German cover letter?

The first question you should answer in your cover letter is:

What does the recruiter get out of reading my application and inviting me for an interview?

You need to answer this question at the beginning of the letter, to tell them if you can do the job or not. In the first paragraph write about your experience, studies and for which job you are applying.

“mit fast fünf Jahren Berufserfahrung als Marketing Manager für die Hotelgruppe XXX in London, vorherigen Stellen im Bereich Marketing und Kommunikation, sowie einem abgeschlossenen Studium in der Betriebswirtschaftslehre in England und Deutschland, bewerbe ich mich um Ihre ausgeschriebene Stelle als “Senior Marketing Manager”.

It shows the first reasons why you could do the job. It is like the short profile on your resume.

The second question you need to answer is:

What do I get out of this job?

You need to express your motivation to do the job. Why are you applying? Why do you want this job? It also shows the recruiters, that you see this job as an opportunity for your career. That you thought about it.

Don’t simply write what you did, your resume is already showing it. Write what are your experiences, which projects, or what you have learned about yourself.

For example, explain that you wish to work for them to deeper your experience in X domain, to keep learning x skills or to put into practice what you have just learned.

4. What are the characteristics of cover letters?

Cultural differences in cover letters:

Your cover letter needs to reflect your personality. It also needs to be adapted to the German way of thinking. There are several differences between German, French, Spanish or British cultures for example that you need to know when writing a German cover letter.

Use formal greetings:

Most German companies are formal, and you should be too. Address your recruiter as “Dear Mrs. Müller” or “Dear Ladies and Gentlemen” if there is more than one person in the company that you are applying for.

“Sehr geehrte Frau Müller / Sehr geehrter Herr Durant / Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren”

Use formal language:

Do not use slang words like „cool“, „awesome“ or „sweet“ or informal style like „it’s my pleasure“, “I’m looking forward to hearing from you”, etc…

“Ich freue mich auf Ihre Rückmeldung“

„Ich würde mich sehr über eine Einladung zu einem persönlichen Vorstellungsgespräch freuen“

Go straight to the point:

Your German cover letter should be short and straight to the point. Do not try to impress your recruiter with a long and too descriptive story.

Make it personal:

If you know someone that works at the company, mention them by name. If you have heard about the company through word of mouth, mention that. Explain how you have learned about it.

Make a connection:

Express your interest in the company, your desire and motivation to work there, and your willingness to develop your skills further within the company.

Don’t write about your salary requirements (unless specifically requested):

Salary negotiations are best done in person. It’s better to wait for the interview before talking about your salary. If they ask for a salary range, use a large one like:

“Meine Gehaltsvorstellung liegt zwischen 55.000 und 75.000 Euro brutto im Jahr je nach Aufgabenprofil und Marktvergleich mit anderen Unternehmen.”

Sign with your name:

Always remember to sign your cover letter with your full name and contact details in case it is separated from your resume.

Are you looking for a new job? Don’t hesitate to contact us to talk with our recruiters and consultants at LHC International. Their role is to help and advise you in your career. CONTACT THEM.

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