This includes thinking about your qualifications, your previous employment, your knowledge, skills, talents and personal strengths. You should also be clear in your mind about your career goals.
Questions for self-analysis:
• What specialist/technical knowledge do I possess?
• What are my non-technical skills?
• How would I describe my personal characteristics?
• Do I want to be part of a big or a small business?
• Which industry interests me?
• Do I prefer to deal with business customers or end users?
• Do I want to pursue a specialist career or managerial career?
• Do I see myself more in strategic or operational work?
Your cover letter should arouse curiosity, be tailored specifically to the company offering the job, and be brief and to the point.
Ask yourself the following questions for orientation:
- What requirements must be met for the job?
- Which (of these) can I meet? Which (of these) am I happy with?
- What qualifies me - technically and personally - for this job?
- How does the company benefit from hiring me specifically?
- Why have I chosen this company/job?
- Scope: max. 1 A4 page
- Format: DIN 5008 - however, an appealing appearance is more important than uniformity.
- Font: For online applications, use a sans-serif font such as Arial or Helvetica (font size 11) as these are easier to read on screen.
- Sender's address with phone number and email is possible as the header (also in the CV), otherwise use standard letter format.
- Addressee's address: "To/Attn." or a country code (e.g. D-93047) is no longer common
- Date: Place, dd.mm.yyyy
- Subject line: Bold type, for which job you are applying (e.g. Application/Unsolicited application for position as...)
- Text: Reader-friendliness is a top priority, so divide your cover letter up into multiple paragraphs.
- Valediction (complimentary close): “Yours faithfully” is standard
- Don’t forget your signature
- Prime examples
- An "application" is effectively an "advert" for yourself, so build your cover letter according to the AIDA advertising model (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action)!
- Make the addressee aware of your qualifications!
- Describe your virtues and qualities from the employer's point of view!
- List the advantages for the potential employer!
1. Reference to the job offer
How/where did you find out about the position advertised?
Say ‘thank you’ for a previous meeting etc.
2. Arouse interest
What actually interests you in the job/sector/industry/company?
3. Concept of your own skills and suitability
Why do you think you are suitable for the job? What qualifications prove your suitability? What other advantages are there in your favour?
4. Organisational aspects
The earliest date you can start, any salary expectations (only if asked for, and then as a gross annual salary), willingness to relocate/travel etc.
5. Call to action
e.g. "I very much look forward to being invited for a job interview."
- Using the same cover letter for all applications
- Forgetting changes to the company’s name
- Not listing your qualifications in the cover letter (characteristics, knowledge, skills and abilities)
- Excessive self-confidence, i.e. unproven claims, self-praise
- Not enough self-awareness
- Using obsolete forms of politeness ("might", "ought", "should", "could”)
- ‘Me-me-me syndrome’, i.e. look at things from the employer's perspective!
- Over-emphasizing the current situation, i.e. you should consider all stages that are important!
- Spelling and grammar mistakes
- Forgetting to sign the letter
- Table format (time and content columns)
- Structure your CV according to thematic blocks
- Reverse chronological order, indicating time as "month/year-month/year"
- Target-oriented focus on the job (e.g. activities)
- Indicate place and date
- 2 pages max.
Personal data/about you
• First name, second name, address, phone, email
• Religious affiliation (only if required for the job)
• Marital status, nationality and date of birth do not have to be given
• Name of study programme
• Main focus of study programme
• Subject of final paper
• Degree (+ grade)
• Company, location
• Division, department, projects
• Company, location
• Division, department, projects
• Company, location
• Type of vocational training
• Work undertaken, if any
• Degree (+ grade)
• School name, location
• School-leaving qualifications (+ grade)
• Primary school is not required
Community service/military service/alternative military service
• Place of deployment
• Any experience working abroad
Student activities/projects/part-time work
• Company, location or name of university
• Division, department, project
• Foreign languages
• Postgrad/further education
• Institution, location
It is no longer generally required to attach a photo.
If you decide to include a photo then please note the following points:
• Have your photo taken by a professional photographer.
• Choose clothing that suits the job you are applying for.
• A black and white or colour photo is a matter of taste - either is possible.
• The application photo is affixed/inserted at the top right of the CV or on a separate cover sheet.
- Cleanness and care are an absolute must - avoid dog-eared, creased pages, spots and stains, spelling errors or poor document copies!
- Your CV and copies of important certificates are stapled together. The cover letter must lie separately on top.
- Use high quality paper and good post packaging (with card reinforcement)!
- Have your complete application portfolio proofread again!
- Cover letter
- Cover sheet with photo if desired
- Your CV
Applying by email:
- Send the same documents as you would for a written application (see Application Portfolio).
- Attach your documents in 2 PDF’s (1x cover letter and 1x cover sheet (if any), CV and references). This will not only save clicks and time for the person reviewing your application, it will also avoid formatting being lost when the file is opened.
- A brief message in the email should arouse interest and refer to the attachments.
- Set yourself up a serious email address to be used for sending your applications.
- Compose a meaningful subject line so as not to give the impression of spam and avoid deletion by the recipient, e.g. "Application as ... - Your job advertisement in ...".
- Try not to send more than 2 MB.
- Enter your full contact data at the end of your email even if they are already included in the attachments.
Applying with an online form
- Make sure you have all the necessary data and documents (PDF’s) ready to hand!
- Proceed as you would if making a written application. Compose your responses in the form's text boxes as you would with a cover letter, and check all entries for spelling errors.
- Take your time and fill everything out fully, carefully and accurately!
- Finally, save or print out the completed form so you are ready to answer any queries.
Once you’ve got past the first hurdle, go into the job interview well prepared and with a positive, focused mindset:
- Find out as much as you can about the company (facts and figures), the job and your interviewers.
- Read newspaper articles and trade journals to be right up to date about the company and its business sector.
- Take another close look at your application and its supporting documents: What did you write in your cover letter? When did you do something in your life, and why?
A typical job interview is held with a head of department and an HR manager; with small companies it is usually just a normal discussion.
Running order and typical questions in the job interview:
The company will start by introducing itself and describing the advertised vacancy. It will then ask you questions about reasons for certain stages in your life, and about your motivation and personality, e.g.:
- Please describe your background/career to date.
- Why have you applied to us specifically?
- Where do you see yourself five years from now?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- What has been your biggest success/failure so far?
Social media channels can also be used for career networking and the job search. During your study programme you can create profiles so as to be able to stay in contact with your superiors and colleagues after you have completed an internship or student traineeship, for example.
A profile should be seen as part of your job application documents and so should be maintained/updated accordingly.
Tips for creating an impressive profile:
- Professional profile portrait (an application photo is best)
- Word your profile as a self-marketing platform, don’t publish subjects that are too private
- Make clear what you can offer and what you are looking for
- Concise statements, no excessively long texts
- Regularly update your profile
- Never say anything bad about other people, companies or institutions
- Observe public profile settings
- Delete unused profiles
- Be careful with humour, irony and wording that could be misunderstood
- Follow formatting instructions
- Allow plenty of time when managing/editing your profile
Problems and hazards: irresponsible, frivolous members, spam messages, links to problematic sites, viruses
Tips on how to use:
- Only send contact questions to people you actually know
- Use occasions/events to contact people from your own network