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Cover Letter - Germany

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Once you've prepared your resume, it's time to highlight your achievements in the cover letter. How you go about doing that can also vary from country to country. In this section you'll find some general as well as culturally specific tips about how to make your letter (and yourself!) stand out when applying for a job in Germany.
Cultural Dos and Don'ts

- Make it personal; don't give the impression that this is a standard letter.

- In Germany, names and titles are very important, so call the receptionist to find out the right person to address your letter to.

- Do not exaggerate or flatter yourself (quite different from some countries where it is common to go on and on about how wonderful you are).

- Explaining your hobbies is something that you usually don't do becuase that's something which tends to come up on the personal interview.

 
 
Presentation
 
  • Leave space between paragraphs.
  • Don't use abbreviations.
  • Use short sentences.
  • If requested on the ad, write the letter by hand. Otherwise, keep it in the same style as the CV and on the computer.
  • If it's a cold-calling letter (not responding to an ad or offer), try to get the name of the person to whom you should address the letter by discreetly calling the company. In Germany, names and titles are very important. You can call the receptionist to find out who the appropriate person is. If you don't have a particular person, address the letter to "Personalabteilung" and write it under the company's name in the address.
  • If you know the name of the person you are writing to direct the letter as follows:
    • "Sehr geehrte(r) Frau/Herr {Last Name},"
  • If you dont know the name of the person you are writing to use:
    • "Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren," (after the comma you start with a lower case letter).
  • Close the letter with
    • "Mit freundlichen Grüßen". Leave a few lines and type your name underneath then sign your name inbetween.
 
Content
 
First paragraph:
  • State the position you are applying for, where you found it advertised, and/or who gave you the information about the placement: "wie ich durch Frau Isabelle Fritsch von der Uppsala Universität erfahren habe, bietet Ihr Unternehmen Praktiumsplätze im Bereich Controlling an".
  • If you know the company, this is the place to show it in a few lines.
 
Second paragraph:
  • Give your reasons for interest in the job and the company.
  • Clarify the position you're interested in or the department.
  • If you actually have a particular job you are applying for, you should refer to how you found it in your letter.
  • State the period of time you are available if it is a temporary job or just the date when you can start. "Ich möchte mich hiermit um ein sechsmonatiges Marketingpraktikum bewerben, das ich im September 2000 beginnen könnte".
  • Emphasize your qualities that best fit with the position.
  • Describe your relevant work experience and mention the former employer's name or the industrial area in which the company operated.
  • Explain how the new company can benefit from your employment.
 
Third paragraph:
  • Express interest in an interview and state when you are available to do so: "Über ein persönliches Gespräch mit Ihnen würde ich mich sehr freuen" or "Ich könnte mich während meiner Semesterferien im April bei Ihnen vorstellen, da ich mich zu dieser Zeit in Deutschland aufhalte".
  • If you cannot afford to go to Germany, conclude by stating: "Über eine positive Antwort würde ich mich sehr freuen." (Some German companies will offer you a placement without an interview simply because they like your background. They might nevertheless want to speak to you over the telephone to see how well you speak German.)
 
Fourth paragraph:
  • List those documents you are enclosing with the letter: "Bitte entnehmen Sie weitere Informationen zu meiner Person dem beigelegten Lebenslauf, den Zeugnissen sowie der Studiengangbeschreibung".
  • End. Point out you're looking forward to their response.
  • Finally, remind them how to contact you.
 
Other things to keep in mind:
  • Make it personal; don't give the impression that this is a standard letter.
  • Do not exaggerate or flatter yourself (quite different from some countries where it is common to go on and on about how wonderful you are).
 
Now that you've read our guidelines for writing a cover letter, check out our model German cover letter.
Or continue on to our page on writing a resume for Germany.
 
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