Do You Need a German Cover Letter? – As you’re searching for a job in Berlin, or anywhere in Germany for that matter, have you asked yourself this question, “Do I need to write a German cover letter when I ‘m applying for jobs?”
Other questions that people commonly ask:
- Are cover letters relevant when my CV already tells my story?
- Does anyone even read them?
- Should I work hard on personalizing one?
These are all very valid thoughts to ponder.
Are cover letters in Germany even necessary?
I remember working for one company – a member of senior management asked “Why do people write cover letters? I never read them. I only want to see their CV and if it’s interesting, I’ll get in touch. I’m way too busy to read both cover letters and resumés.”
A very fair point. His pain was also my pain, as I was reviewing several job applications each day, looking at people we could potentially add to our team. It was time consuming and tedious to look at all of the applications, look deep at people’s profiles,. and ensure all those who applied were given a fair shot.
In an ideal world, the recruitment process in general would look very different than what it does right now. I could wax poetic about how much change is sorely needed to eliminate bias but alas, systemic change doesn’t happen overnight and we’re required to work within the constraints of the system we’re in at the moment.
So do you need a German cover letter?
Yes, most definitely. Cover letters are indeed relevant when you are applying for jobs in Berlin or elsewhere in Deutschland.
Yes, not every single recruiter or hiring manager will read it (like that manager at my old company), but a lot of them will, and many will even expect to see one. There’s actually a small chance that not submitting a cover letter at all will result in an immediate rejection. A recruiter or hiring manager may think that if you didn’t put in the effort to make a cover letter, why should they even consider you for the job?
Some HR software scans submitted documents looking for certain keywords. A well crafted cover letter could help you bubble to the top of the candidate pool where you’re more likely to get noticed.
So why take the chance? It’s tough out there right now with the pandemic and a global recession, and we all need to do whatever we can to score that first job interview with a potential employer.
So, write that cover letter! People do actually read them and a good cover letter will make potential employers want to take a closer look at your profile.
Why else are German cover letters important?
Also called a motivation letter in Germany (Motivationsschreiben), a cover letter is your chance to shine. You can tell the company why you want to work for them, explain how you are uniquely qualified for that role, and really make your personality come through.
This is why personalizing the cover letter is really important. They need to see the real you and that you were thoughtful in your job application. If a cover letter is simply a regurgitation of the job description or a generic copy and paste text that you’ve used for every single job application ever, it will show and that company will be way less likely to contact you.
Think of it like this – when you go to the theatre to watch a movie, you’ll see trailers for upcoming flicks. They only last one or two minutes, but if the trailer is really good, they’ve hooked you, and eventually you’re going to watch that movie.
Your cover letter letter is just like that movie trailer. It’s a little preview of your CV and you as a person. The main intention (aka call to action) of a cover letter is to make the person reading it want to know more. They’ll spend time reviewing your CV and hopefully, contact you for that first interview.
They want to see an effort from your side, are interested in why you want to work for them, learn why you’re the person for that job, and if you’re passionate about what you do. The cover letter should encompass all of these things and if it’s done well, will motivate the employer to contact you for an interview.
Bottomline, the cover letter should tell a story that’s framed as a well written and compelling narrative.
If you want even more tips about how to write your cover letter for the German job market, read German Cover Letter Tips To Help You Get Noticed.