UNSOLICITED (OR COLD) JOB APPLICATIONS IN GERMANY
As you begin your job search in Germany, it’s a good idea to know which industry you’d like to work in and then start researching companies within that industry.
Recommended Reading: Our detailed guide as to how to go about doing company research.
As complete your research, you’ll develop a big picture of the various industry players such as who the market leaders are, who pays the highest salaries, who has the most innovative CEO, who is disrupting conventional norms, and more. It then won’t take you long to identify companies you’d like to work for.
Once you know who you want to work for, you can scour their site for job openings. Sometimes, you’ll be lucky and see the perfect job right away. Other times, you may see open positions but not one that fits you. You may also see that many German companies welcome getting unsolicited or cold applications (Initiativbewerbung).
UNSOLICITED (OR COLD) JOB APPLICATIONS IN GERMANY – A DETAILED FAQ
What exactly is an unsolicited application? How do you cater your job applications for positions that might not exist? Do companies really hire someone that way? There’s a lot to sort through, so let’s tackle some of the most commonly asked questions with our FAQ.
1) What Is An Unsolicited Application?
An unsolicited application is when you apply to a company (submitting a CV, cover letter, and other supporting documents) even when you don’t see any open positions that fit your profile.
German companies will often encourage potential employees to apply this way and usually explicitly state on their website that unsolicited applications are welcome. BASF is a prime example.
Even if there aren’t any relevant roles for you at the time of your application, it will be stored on file and you could be one of the first people they reach out to when the right opportunity arises.
It’s also a positive sign when a company actively seeks to cultivate relationships with potential employees and may signal a highly developed workplace culture.
2) Should You Send Unsolicited Job Applications When Looking For A Job In Germany?
YES. If you really vibe with the company and can see yourself working there, go for it. Apply even if they don’t have a statement on their website saying they welcome unsolicited applications.
Some companies don’t publicly advertise their open positions (aka the “hidden job market”) and might have open roles you wouldn’t know about otherwise. Other times, companies may like your profile so much that they create a role just for you. While this is very rare, it can happen.
This means you need a really solid job application – including both a cover letter and a CV that will convince them to contact you for an interview right away.
3) How Do You Position Yourself When Submitting A Cold Application?
A key difference when writing your cover letter or CV for an open application is being able to clearly communicate to the employer why you want to work there and how you can help them achieve their goals. Be sure to also convey what type of role(s) you are interested in.
As you won’t have a job description to work with, you’ll really need to make your case about how you can contribute by giving them a “sales pitch” where you highlight your skills, experience, knowledge, etc. backed up concrete examples. Use the company’s website for inspiration to get an idea of the values they uphold, what their vision/mission/purpose is, what their other job descriptions require, etc. and figure it into your job application.
For example, you may see that a company aims to attract employees who thrive on change, fast development, and challenging the status quo. If you know that, you could go into detail about how you uphold these values and explain how you’ve managed through such situations in the past.
So spend a good amount of time letting them know why they should hire you. While time-consuming, it will pay off in dividends if it lands you the job.
Our tip? If you’re sending an unsolicited application by email vs uploading it to an HR system or submitting it via a job portal, be sure to specify in the subject line and cover letter that it’s an unsolicited application.
4) How Can You Stay In Touch With A Company?
Invite them to an initial conversation. In the closing remarks of your cover letter, mention that even if they don’t have any relevant open opportunities just yet, you’d welcome an in-person meeting or call. If they’re open to this, it can be a great way to build a relationship with your contact and the company itself, potentially opening up the door for a job at a later date. Don’t hesitate to connect with them on LinkedIn as well.
5) Do Unsolicited Applications Really Work?
Recommended Reading: Our guide about the reality of searching for a job in Berlin.
But don’t let that stop you. If you’re keen to work at a specific company, go ahead, apply, and create a kick-ass job application that is going to make them want to snap you up instantly. You know what they say, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
Good companies will see your cold application in a favourable light and view you as a “go getter” – someone who’s confident, capable, and motivated to work for them. These types of companies will go to great lengths to cultivate relationships with potential employees even if they can’t hire you just yet.
6) What Happens When You Don’t Hear Back?
When you submit a cold application, be patient and know that it could be a while before you hear back from the recruiting team or hiring manager. They could be busy working to fill their open positions.
Unfortunately, it’s also possible that you never hear back and if this happens, be sure to keep a watch on their job openings. If you ever see a relevant position pop up in the future, don’t hesitate to apply again.
You can also follow up with the company if you haven’t received a reply after a couple of weeks, but only do so once or twice max. Anything beyond this will come across as aggressive and spammy.
Unsolicited applications in Germany are just another way to improve your chances of finding your dream job working at a company you love. As such, we highly recommend employing this tactic.
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Cheryl Howard, Founder @ The Berlin Life
Hi, I’m Cheryl. My mission is to help you move to Berlin and find work.
A Canadian in Berlin for 10+ years, I have the unique experience of moving to Berlin – not once, but twice. During my time in Berlin, I’ve had five different visas and worked as both a freelancer and a permanent employee for numerous Berlin companies. I even managed to find a new job during the pandemic and again in 2023, during Germany’s recession and massive layoffs in tech.
My day job has involved work as a hiring manager, overseeing the recruitment of countless people, as well as a team coach helping teams and individuals work better and find happiness in their careers. Through my side projects, I’ve also shared my personal experiences by publishing a series of helpful blog posts, creating a thriving community of job seekers, and hosting events to help people find work in Berlin. In 2021, I decided to put my coaching and recruiting talents to use by creating The Berlin Life, bringing my existing content and community together in one spot.
The combination of my personal and professional experience means I know exactly what it takes to move to Berlin and find work.