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You’re probably well aware that recruitment in Germany may work differently than in your home country. One of the main differences is the cover letter.

Tali Lichtenfeld, an experienced recruiter and career coach in Germany, is sharing her 10 top tips to creating a German-style cover letter. If you’re ready for the next step, make sure you read Tali’s last post on how to create a German-style resume.

I don’t need to tell you about first impressions and their importance, right?

Did you know that we make an assessment of another person we meet in less than one second? And studies show that as the interaction continues, we will continue to look for supporting evidence to our first assessment rather than collect new objective data. Unfair? Yes, but reasonable. 

This is crucial to remember when stepping into an interview. But it’s also important to understand that the first impression is not made at the interview at all. It is made even before you meet your prospective employer. It is made in the first contact you make.

So what is the first contact? Your application.

Sending a CV without a cover letter is like entering a conversation without taking the time to shake hands and say hello first.  

Would you ever do that? Certainly not in Germany!

 

In Germany, the cover letter is as important to the German recruiter as your CV itself. According to research made in 2013, almost 40% of HR managers in Germany rejected applications without a cover letter (in US 13% rejected on that base and in Russia only 3%). So if you’re in Russia – focus on the CV, but if you’re applying for a job in Germany, even for an international company – don’t waste your time sending the CV without a proper cover letter.

If you require the cover letter to be translated into German, you can do so using a translation service. Otherwise, consider hiring a freelancer!

So… you’ve searched for the perfect job on all possible recruitment platforms, you’re well aware of which companies are hiring English speakers, what’s next? Get on perfecting that cover letter and resume for the German market!  

 

What would make your cover letter perfect?

 

1. Keep it short (no longer than one page) and write it as a formal letter

 

2. Address it to the relevant recruiter(s)

 

3. Customize it to the specific job! It is not “one size fits all”

 

4. State your interest in the specific job and company (find out about the needs and challenges of this company and their uniqueness)

 

5. Explain why you are the right person for the job since you hold the requested qualifications, experience, knowledge and personality

 

6. Avoid focusing on what YOU will get from the job, but rather focus on what the EMPLOYER will gain by hiring you. What makes you their dream candidate? Stop and think from the employer’s point of view. Read that job description again, research the company: what are they looking for? Use their words to describe yourself (truthfully!)

 

7. Mention impressive projects and achievements, use numbers and data (without internal confidential data)

 

8. Show motivation but avoid over excitement

 

9. Use positive expressions and active verbs

 

10. End the letter with a prompt for action – a call or an interview as the next step to get to know you better

 

A final word

Many of my clients struggle with writing a cover letter. Why? Because it feels like bragging. My advice: think about the recruiters waiting for someone like you. Just tell them about yourself and how you could help their company. You’re offering your skills, and if you believe in them as valuable – then they will too!

Want to know how much you should be earning? Take the free questionnaire on GEHALT.de (there’s a post translating it into English on Life in Düsseldorf to make it easier for you if you don’t speak German).

Have more questions about your cover letter? Struggling with integrating into the German job market? Contact Tali and set up a free introduction meeting. 

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