How to write your cover letter in German
Generally speaking a cover letter should be concise and to the point and definitely no longer than one page.
Points you should consider when writing a cover letter
To be effective, your cover letter should follow the basic format of a typical business letter and should address three general issues:
Do not repeat your what is already in your CV, simply refer to it! "As you can see from my CV, …".
If a particular work experience listed in your CV especially qualifies you for the job you can refer to it and emphasise its relevant points.
Your cover letter should NEVER be longer than 1 page.
Why you are writing?
In some cases, you may have been referred to a potential employer by a friend or acquaintance. Be sure to mention this mutual contact by name as soon as possible as it is likely to encourage your reader to keep reading!
If you are writing in response to a job advert, indicate where you learned of the position and the exact title of the position you are applying for. More importantly, remember to convey your enthusiasm for the job and the likely match between your credentials and the position's required qualifications.
If you are writing a prospective application letter - a letter in which you enquire about potential job openings - state your specific job objective. Since this type of letter is unsolicited, it is even more important to capture the reader's attention.
It is a good idea to mention why you are interested in that specific company, esp. when you write a prospective application letter.
Do not give the impression that they are one of two hundred applications (badly copied CVs, serial letters, etc.).
What You Have To Offer
In responding to a job advert, refer specifically to the qualifications they have listed and illustrate how your particular abilities and experiences relate to the position for which you are applying.
In a prospective applicationg letter express your potential to fulfil the employer's needs rather than focus on what the employer can offer you. You can do this by giving evidence that you have researched the organization thoroughly and that you possess skills that are used within that organization.
Emphasize your achievements and problem-solving skills. Show how your education and work skills are transferable, and thus relevant, to the position for which you are applying.
How You Will Follow Up
Bid directly for the job interview or an informational interview and indicate that you will follow-up with a telephone call to set up an appointment. Be sure to make the call within the time frame indicated.
Even if you do not mention it explicitly in the letter, it is a good idea to make a follow up phone call. Timing is important: do not call on the very next day or after more than one week.
If you are applying from outside the employer's geographic area you may want to indicate if you'll be in town during a certain time frame (this makes it easier for the employer to agree to meet with you).
In conclusion, you should also indicate that further references are available on request. Also, if you have a portfolio or certificates to support your qualifications, inform prospective employers that they are also available on request.
This is the main letter in your application documents because it gives the potential employer an insight into who you are and what you are capable of delivering.
Unlike your usual english cover letters where you are allowed to be creative with your words, the German cover letter is more direct and to the point. A Cover letter should answer the following questions:
- Does the applicant suit the position?
- What are the applicants’ strengths and how are they (the strengths) relevant to this position/company?
So here are a few tips on how to do it right:
- Find out the exact contact person and their title(s) before you start writing the letter and use it, “Sehr geehrter Herr Prof. XYZ” or “Sehr geehrte Frau Dr. ABC“. Avoid the general “Dear Sir/Madam” or “Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren“.
- When in doubt, please use “Dear Sir/Madam” or “Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren“, don’t assume it has to be one. It’s more irritating reading a letter addressed to a “Sir”, when you’re a woman or vice versa.
- Tailor the letter to the position you’re applying for. Avoid having one letter that you send to all employers. Even when you have one letter, make it personal. Instead of “I’ll be an asset to your company“, change that everytime you send to a new company and write it as, “I’ll be an asset to Company XYZ“. Looks like you prepared and you know which company you’re applying to.
- Include qualities you have that you think might be relevant for the position. Reading and rereading the job advert will help you pinpoint what qualities they are looking for.
- Avoiding naming your qualities like you have a list to fill. Always support your quality with a bit of background e.g. “I enjoy working with children”
- You can have your address either at the top of the page in a single line as shown or in the same format as the company address shown
- Include the job reference number, especially if you found the advert on a separate site or newspaper. You can leave it out if you are applying directly through the company website.
- Avoid fancy fonts unless you work in the creative sector.
You might need to also read about writing a German CV
(your address can either be on a line at the top of the letter or as a paragraph)
Mkenya Ujerumani, Musterstrasse 20, 78495 Musterstadt. Handy 01577776543 Email: email@example.com
Musterstadt, den 11.05.2013
Bewerbung um die Position als Kokorikor (Kennziffer 987)
Sehr geehrte Frau Dr. Ypsilon,
short intro on why you are writing: Mit großem Interesse habe ich Ihre Stellenausschreibung in der Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung gelesen und bewerbe mich für “die Position als Kokorikor (Kennziffer 987)“.
Tell us about your educational background, only include information relevant to the position you’re applying to: These questions will help you write this paragraph:
Where did you go to school? What did you study (that is relevant to this position)? When did you complete or when do you plan to complete? For those in Uni, you can mention your Bachelor/Masters theses here.
“Zurzeit befinde ich mich im …….. Semester des Studiengangs ….. mit Schwerpunkt …….. der Technischen Universität ……..”
Why did you choose that course and how does it relate to the position? Why are you applying for this position? This is a good point to mention if you’ve used the company’s services or products before, but don’t overdo it.
„Der Bereich ABC interessiert mich schon seit langer Zeit, da ich …“
“Wegen meines besonderen Interesses an ……. schrieb ich meine Diplomarbeit zum Thema „……….“.”
“Durch meine abgeschlossene Ausbildung zum ……. bin ich mit Ihren Produktgruppen auch in technischer Hinsicht gut vertraut.”
Mention your qualities and your experiences and how they match the position you’re applying for:
What qualities do you have that are relevant to this position? (You speaking English, Kiswahili and your mother tongue is an asset that you should broadcast, of course depending on the position. For a social worker/nurse/airport attendant, it would be very relevant that they can speak many languages)
“Den Einsatz in Ihren internationalen Niederlassungen empfinde ich als spannende Aufgabe. Hierfür bringe ich sehr gute Fremdsprachenkenntnisse in Englisch und Kisuaheli mit.”
“Die Teilnahme an verschiedenen Workshops und Seminaren stärkte mein besonderes Interesse an ……”
„für die Stelle als … bringe ich bereits erste Erfahrungen in … durch … mit.“
This paragraph is optional and depends on the job description.
Here you can mention when you’d like to start work, how much you would expect to be paid and in some instances whether or not you’re ready to travel.
This is in closing where you pen off. Avoid shy comments like, “I look forward to hearing from you” and instead go for something bolder like: “Ich freue mich auf Ihre Einladung zum persönlichen Gespräch.”
mit freundlichen Grüßen,
(Signature is optional)
City, den Date