German Cover Letter Tips To Help You Get Noticed – Are you looking for a job in Berlin right now, applying to tons of positions, and not getting a response?
It happens to the best of us, even for those who work in an in demand profession like software developers or nurses. It’s especially challenging during the pandemic.
That’s why here at The Berlin Life, we want to help you move to Berlin and find work.
Our first article, Do You Need a German Cover Letter?, just went live last month. Next up, our top tips for writing that perfect German cover letter to help you get noticed.
Essential German Cover Letter Tips
1) Start off on the right foot
Many job descriptions in Germany have a contact listed. Address your cover letter to that person using formal German greetings such as “Dear Herr Müller”.
If no contact is listed or you’re unsure about which greeting to use, use a generic greeting such as “Dear hiring manager” or “To whom it may concern”.
2) Be short and sweet
Keep the cover letter to a single page and handful of paragraphs. Be succinct (i.e. avoid long wordy sentences or overuse of adjectives) and summarize, summarize, summarize.
Pick key points to use from your CV or job description but don’t repeat things verbatim.
3) Make it all about them
Make your cover letter personal and not a generic cut and paste.
Tell them about why you want to work there and be specific. Show you did your research. i.e. You can say you are impressed with the company culture or that you identify with their mission of sustainability and want to be part of their journey.
4) The job description is your guiding light
You’ve told the company about why you want to work for them. What’s next? Use the job description to tell a story about why you’re uniquely qualified for the position using personal examples.
Again, don’t regurgitate the job description and don’t write a novel – give them a preview, but not the whole story.
Make them interested and leave them wanting to know more. Enough to contact you for an interview!
5) Show your personality
Get creative and have fun with your cover letter. This may mean breaking some of the “rules” we’ve outlined here.
Take unique approaches – perhaps give them a link to a video you made telling them why you want to work there. Share a sample of what you can do for them by sharing some insight on how you’d approach your job. Invite them to check out your social media.
The sky’s the limit. A unique cover letter will really help you stand apart from other candidates.
6) Make it look nice
You could just type of bunch of text into a Google document and send it off. But how about making your cover letter look nice using websites like Canva, where you can find beautiful and professional templates for free.
Other basic tips? Use a large and readable font (consider accessibility here), don’t make your paragraphs too long, and use sensible spacing to make your cover letter easier to read.
Your CV (which we’ll look at more in a future post) should have a similar look and feel. This way, the cover letter and CV will appear as one package.
7) Write your cover letter in German?
Write the cover letter in German as it may help you get noticed by HR software or LinkedIn search engine algorithms.
Be careful and use your best judgement here though, as it may also backfire when they discover that your actual level of German doesn’t match your cover letter communication.
I talked to a recruiter once who shared a story about finding a dream candidate for a position. This person was applying from abroad and had submitted both their CV and cover letter in German. The first interview was scheduled and during the call, the recruiter was surprised to find the candidate didn’t know any German at all. They’d paid someone to translate their documents for them.
Needless to say, the candidate was rejected for their false claims of knowing German.
If you do still decide to write your cover letter in German, in the very least, indicate your language level (like B1). Then the decision will be left with the employer if they want to contact you.
8) Do a final quality check
Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors, get the company name and other details right, and if you can, have a second or third pair of eyes to review your cover letter. This can be a friend or someone you pay.
My top tip? Join my Facebook community of more than 7,000 people and ask someone there for a cover letter exchange. Another person can review your cover letter and give you feedback and you can do the same for them.
Also, make sure the narrative in the letter flows well and it doesn’t appear as if it were written by a robot. i.e. You’ve listed a bunch of keywords and just thrown in them in for the sake of getting noticed vs putting together a well written letter.
9) Tell the truth
Be humble and honest about things, like your education, work experience, level of German etc.
Not too long ago, I was shocked to read the LinkedIn profile of a former colleague who claimed to have led a high profile project for our company. That project wasn’t even started until after that person left.
Behaviour like this is completely unprofessional, not to mention unethical. This colleague was taking credit for other people’s work and blatantly lying.
Such false claims could come back to haunt you. Berlin is small and people know each other – a potential employer may know someone at one of your former companies and informally reach out to them for information. It could cost you the job if you’ve over exaggerated certain things.
Of course, be confident in your accomplishments and don’t undersell yourself. Be proud of yourself, your passions, and your work.
10) Close the deal
Let them know you would welcome a chance to discuss things further in an interview and tell them how to best get in touch.
We hope this helps you write a cover letter that’s going to make German employers stop and say “Hey. I want to talk to this person. Let’s schedule an interview.” If you have further questions, drop a comment down below.