After presenting you a post with advice to improve your German résumés, we have thought it would be convenient to write a text on another pivotal element in our job application: the cover letter (Anschreiben). The differences between the German and Spanish cover letter are not particularly significant in terms of content so, if we have already learned how to write a good cover letter in Spanish, we shouldn’t have too many problems when doing the same thing in German. Given that we are fluent in the language and that we know the specific forms to use in the text, of course. It’s essential to understand that, even if the job application is for us a matter of extreme importance, for the recruiter ours is just one of the many job applications he will manage on a certain day. Therefore, capturing his attention and awakening his interest from the first moment and throughout the whole text is needed. We need to perceive the cover letter as a chance to impress the recruiter and stand out from the crowd. Down below we list some recommendations to write a good cover letter:
- Briefness. “I’ve made this letter longer than usual because I didn’t have the time to make a shorter one”, said once the French scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal. Unlike Pascal, we do have time to synthesize our introduction or, at least, we should take it, being able to structure the letter in 3-4 paragraphs. Under no circumstances should the length of the letter exceed one page.
- Personalization. Writing a single cover letter and using it in different job applications changing only the recipient of it is not a strategy that works. A letter written on a too generic tone won’t interest any of the recruiters that read it. It is worth investing some time in writing a different letter for every offer and, when possible, we should address it directly to the person in charge of reading it (the HR manager of the company, for example).
- Why are you writing? Is it in response to a specific job offer? If that’s the case, how did you get to know about it? Or could it be that your application is made on your own initiative (Initiativbewerbung), without a posted vacancy? These are questions that we need to answer in the first paragraph of our letter.
- What can you offer? In the following paragraphs (1 or 2) it is expected that we briefly tell our professional story, without repeating the information already included in the CV or just occasionally referencing it. We need to relate our experience, accomplishments and skills with the company and the job position we are applying for. It is essential that the letter doesn’t just talk about us (“I did…”, “I want…”), but that we search for the link between our story and the activities of the company. If our application is an Initiativbewerbung we can be a bit more creative in the writing and try to emphasize an employer’s need we could help to cover.
- Closing. To finish, we just need to express our interest for moving forward to the next step in the selection process and stress our availability to arrange an appointment for an interview.
You can find more information on how to write a cover letter for a job application in Germany on the website of the Agentur für Arbeit (the German employment agency). On their website you can also check some examples of correctly written cover letters. We will keep sharing with all of you our recommendations and posts about employment in Germany through our website and also in Funk Radio. Meanwhile, we encourage you to visit regularly our section of job offers in Germany Germany in order to check if any of the active offers suits your interest. Text: Aitor Sendino Fernández