DON’T MAKE THESE GERMAN COVER LETTER MISTAKES
Unfortunately, there are a lot of content creators and influencers out there who pass themselves off as “experts” who promise they can coach you on moving to Germany. They’ll often tell you to follow all sorts of bad advice, like writing a cover letter in snail mail style or including irrelevant information like your hobbies. Quite often these are people who moved to Germany once and don’t have any recruiting or leadership experience. Other times, information comes from blogs that exist purely for monetization reasons, with AI-written content that no human has ever vetted for correctness. Read more in one of my past newsletter blasts.
One of the things that inspire me to keep this blog going is to correct the misinformation that’s floating around out there. What I’m sharing here is based on detailed research and lived experience, all in an effort to be honest and set any newbies to Germany on the path to success.
We’ve already covered CVs in our guide, Avoid Making These German CV Mistakes and now, I’m here to set you straight on mistakes to avoid when writing a German cover letter.
Recommended reading: How To Write A German CV That Will Get You Interviews .
AVOID GERMAN COVER LETTER MISTAKES
These are the most common mistakes that people make when their putting together a German cover letter:
1) Using a Snail Mail Template
When is the last time you wrote a cover letter, printed it off, and sent it by snail mail? My guess is probably, never.
If you’re sending a job application via email or uploading it to an applicant tracking system, there is no need to include details like the company address (they know where they’re located), your address (although, you can include this on your CV if you like), or a signature.
2) Oversharing Personal Details
I will keep bringing this up over and over again. There is no need to tell them if you’re married, how old you are, or how many children you have. There really isn’t a need to include a photo. Doing so can lend to discrimination, so keep the focus on the important details like what position you’re applying for, why you want to work there, and what qualifies you for the job.
We suggest doing some company research to make your cover letter even stronger.
3) Writing a Novel
Cover letters should never expand beyond a single page and should be no more than three to five paragraphs. Don’t retell everything that you’ve written on your CV and keep it a summary that makes the recruiter or hiring manager want to know more about you.
Read our complete guide to writing a cover letter in Germany.
4) Sending Out a Generic Cover Letter
Cover letters should always be customized for the job to which you’re applying. If you send the same cover letter every time, it will appear lazy and show that you’re not really interested in working there. Companies need to see that you’ve put real work into your job application.
5) Communicating in German When You’re Not So Fluent
This is another classic mistake that people make with their cover letters. If you don’t speak German that well yet, write your cover letter in English. Conveying fluency in German when you’re applying for a job gives a false impression that won’t be received well by your potential employer.
6) Not Proofreading
Always make sure your cover letter is as error-free as possible by having someone proofread it for you be it a family member, friend, or professional copy writer or editor. You can also use a helpful tool like Grammarly.
7) Stuffing Your Cover Letter Full of Key Words and Phrases
While you want to borrow some keywords from the job description, don’t stuff your cover letter so full of keywords or phrases to the point that it doesn’t sound natural.
8) Leaning Too Much on AI
While ChatGPT might be able to spout out a good first draft of the cover letter for you, don’t rely on the tech alone. I know it can yield some pretty killer copy, but you’re still going to need to further customize the letter to the job and make it sound more like something that was written by you.
9) Not Sending a Cover Letter
Writing cover letters isn’t fun and I think we can all agree on this, right? There are far better ways to spend your time.
However, it’s often still expected and when searching for a job, you don’t want to do anything that might get you removed from the recruiting process early on. So don’t take a chance and write a cover letter for all job applications.
10) Sending a Cover Letter When You’re Asked Not to Send One
If you’re lucky, you’ll come across a job posting that explicitly asks you not to write a cover letter (I hope all companies get to this stage someday). If you see something like this, follow their instructions and don’t send a cover letter.
Avoiding these German cover letter mistakes will help you to develop a well-written and compelling cover letter that will garner your potential employer’s attention and make them want to contact you for an interview.
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