Jaroslav Plotnikov

IT Job Searching in Germany: your TEXT in COVER LETTER – PART 2

The Part 2 deals with the content of the cover letter, its components


What the cover letter says
Three paragraphs are enough
Don’t be modest
Some Tabu in a German cover letter
Five modules of a cover letter – A, B, C, D, E, F
A – Relation to job offer
B – Catch interest
C – Introduction / about yourself
D – Skills and suitability
E – Organisational issues
F – Call to action, polite saying goodbye
Some Tabu in a German cover letter


What the cover letter says

Your cover letter must answer two questions:

  • What do you have to offer the employer (with focus on the advertised position)?
  • What are the advantages for the employer if he just hires you (and not someone else)?

You do not need to describe your previous work experience in the cover letter. This is what your resume says.


Three paragraphs are enough

The whole content can be reduced to three essential items:

  • I understand your concern.
  • Here’s how I’ve already solved similar trouble.
  • Let’s talk about how I solve your problem.

Tip: In your writing do not use the word “problem” use other expressions

That’s your challenge – be short, direct and clear. I know that it is not easy. With the help of the following five modules you can create a layout. There is already everything inside what a cover letter needs. The relevant content is still missing – you have to insert it yourself. Then start to shorten. Repeat it several times until you are satisfied. Ready? So let’s go!


Don’t be modest

Down with modesty! The recipient* does not have to guess. He must recognize immediately which qualifications and strengths you bring into the company.

This isn’t about boasting. You make your strong points clear and do not focus on your weaknesses. Put yourself in the position of the recipient – he has several applications, maybe even dozens of them for this particular position.

How can you help him make the right decision – choose you?

Therefore, consider the following questions:

  • Which requirements are absolutely essential for this particular position?
  • What can I do? What do I really like doing (in relation to this position)?
  • Do my strengths match my job offer?

Five modules of a cover letter – A, B, C, D, E, F

Do not take this as a fixed mandatory but rather as a recommendable structure. In your text you can set filler words and change sentences. Obviously, your text will be adapted to the particular job advertisement and your situation. Consider the following modules to be a help in structuring your cover letter.

A – Relation to job offer

At the beginning of the cover letter you briefly explain how you got to know about the position. In my example a link was entered (in small characters, because the recipient does not have to read it, just copy it). Because of this link, the recipient knows what kind of ad is being talked about.

Dear Mr. Müller,
I found your job advertisement
here: https://con.arbeitsagentur.de/prod/jobboerse/jobsuche-ui/?jobdetails. You describe an activity that exactly matches my abilities.

Your company’s software has an excellent reputation. I have also been using your antivirus Avira for years. I am completely convinced of the quality.

If you have already spoken to someone on the phone, module A is the right place to refer to this call.

In general, module A is only about 2 things:

  • how you got to know about the position or:
  • Thanks for the nice / informative phone call.

B – Catch interest

It’s considered impolite to talk about yourself straight away. In the German business world there is its own etiquette. Module B “Catch interest” is a bridgeand a good opportunity to express oneself about the following:

  • Why does this job feel interesting to you?
  • What attracts / inspires you to the particular company?

Your company’s software has an excellent reputation. I have also been using your antivirus Avira for years. I am completely convinced of the quality.

Go ahead and praise the company you’re applying to. In Germany it is a sign that you are well informed and really interested. Your praise can refer to the company’s products, the working atmosphere, its position in the market. To make sure your praise doesn’t look like some sort of flattery, explain it:

  • I like your products because… especially products A and B because…
  • I have read a lot of positive feedback on your working atmosphere and fair treatment of employees;
  • According to Google, your company seems to be one of the market leaders when it comes to virus protection.

C – Introduction / about yourself

Now is the time to introduce yourself. These include: education, degree, current job, work experience (if any), age.

With this application I bring the necessary knowledge and skills. I am a malware analyst (IT experience 12 years) Since 2015, I have focused on evaluating, developing and implementing complex measures to analyze different types of malware and hacking incidents**.

Especially in the IT sector, where the American CVs are becoming more and more popular, it is possible to avoid the age information. If you’re under 30, don’t hesitate to mention it. If you are older or do not want to reveal your age right away, you can skip it.


D – Skills and suitability

Module D is the reason why you are best suited to the position advertised.

I underline the word best. Indeed, you should hide your doubt (if there is one). Never demonstrate uncertainty or doubt about your suitability to the employer. Otherwise, your odds are falling deep.

I assume from your job advertisement that you are looking for someone who is familiar with…. In both areas – … and … I know my subjects very well. You can find out more about my area of expertise in the attached documentation.

If it turns out later that your doubt was justified… it’s just bad luck. You can never be 100% sure against wrong decisions like that, they happen in everyone’s life.

So, in this part of your cover letter you should be clear about the following questions:

E – Organisational issues

That is an important point. Read the job ad carefully. Employers love it when all their questions are answered. However, many applicants ignore it. If you answer the questions or at least respond to them, you will immediately attract the positive attention of the employer.

So, if the salary expectation is asked, you have to say something about it. Don’t worry about selling yourself too cheap. Especially if this is your first job in Germany and the company makes a rather good impression, don’t hesitate to ask for the minimum salary.

As a newcomer in the German job market, my salary expectation is based on the salary tariff of a Blue Card specialist. I can start right now.

Your task now to get into the German working world. Within the next 6 – 24 months you will look around, make contacts and learn the necessary knowledge from your colleagues and through your own experiences from the “insider” perspective. By the way, the minimum annual salary for Blue Card specialists in 2018 is €40,560.

If you have already worked in Germany or your previous salary clearly exceeds €40,560 gross, then state your current salary and add that you expect a higher salary. The logic is simple: “One of the reasons for leaving today’s job is the desire for a salary that better meets my competence and experience”.

A remark about salaries

You can have a perfect resume, but as long as you’re new to the German job market, from the employer’s point of view you’ll stay “the cat in the bag”. Only after a few months does your true value for the company become visible. Be sure, experts in Germany are appreciated and earn well. You can expect a significant salary increase if you talk to your boss and justify your wish with the facts and numbers.

40,560 brutto (before taxes), how much is that anyway? This salary is quite enough for a relaxed life in most German cities. It is enough for renting a 2-room apartment, good food, leisure and for traveling to other cities. It is both about recreational trips and possible trips to job interviews (if you still decide to look for another job). If you don’t have a family, you can also save several hundred euros a month.


F – Call to action, polite saying goodbye

Yes, yes, it’s all about that famous “call to action”. Although it is recommended to follow the standard expressions (e.g. “I will be happy to answer your questions”), but I believe that you can break the rules – you should  use more of your own expressions. It is important that your messages include the call to action.

Have I aroused your interest? Feel free to contact me.
Kind regards
Jaroslav Plotnikov

Cover them with politeness and go for it. In this case call to action is contact me – arrange a meeting or a phone call / Skype interview.

Some Tabu in a German cover letter

Avoid common phrases

” Herewith I apply…” Standardized formulations are TABU.

Question: How can I use standard formulations if my German / English is just advanced (and I don’t have the level of a native speaker)?

Answer: a HR manager understands that you have learned English as an adult by reading the textbooks. So show a rational amount of creativity, look for the “golden middle”:

Several-page cover letter is TABU

The cover letter must be a maximum of one page. Best case: 200-300 words.

* –  umbrella term recipient in this case might include such recipients as secretary, HR manager, recruiter, CEO, CTO etc.
** – use the text from job advertisment to adjust your skills and knowledge to the employer’s expectations.

© 2018 Jaroslav Plotnikov ( All articles )

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