Cover letter for your resume – in this part 1 you learn the formal design requirements in Germany: fonts, date, contact info, subject, title
Due to the IT industry, we focus on the electronic form of the cover letter (e.g. as email). I recommend that you make new corrections to the cover letter for each potential employer
Thumb rule: short and clear. 200-300 words. If an employer* gets your printed cover letter in the hands, he must have a single DIN A4 page. Just one page, no more.
Font size: like Times New Roman 12 / Arial 11 point
Date: common format in Germany is: DD.MM.YY
If your email address is different than recommended above, make sure at least your first name is before your email address. Double-check that your name is spelled the same everywhere and matches the spelling in your passport.
There is no need to enter the address. However, if you are in Germany or in another EU country, I would highly recommend giving your address (with the zip code and the country name).
Enter the email address in the contact info section (s. 1 at the bottom of the screenshot) and your mobile number in international format. If your spoken English or German is not at the best level, Skype telephony becomes very helpful by ensuring better understanding due to non-verbal communication. Write your Skype ID in between your mobile number so you don’t have to additionally email it in the future.
Paradox: It is a complete mystery to me what an applicant thought by sending his application from the email address like: Black Creator <email@example.com>
The subject should clarify:
If there are any digits in the job advertisement, make sure to add that job ad code. In my example, it is the very case (s. 2 on the screenshot above).
In further conversation, use the “Reply” function so that the recipient can follow the entire history of the conversations.
By entering job ad code, keeping the dialog history and trying to do your best for other similar minor things, you show your attention and your ability to make it easier for the recipient to do his work. The recipient of your application probably has to deal with hundreds of vacancies and thousands of emails. Most likely he will notice your “minor things” and will appreciate this very much.
Absolutely underoptimal beginning: Hi, / Hi there, / Hello!
Non-personal greetings inevitable associated with an applicant who randomly throws his resumes like someone shooting on repeat fire with with a machine gun into the darkness. Sure, the response chances still exist, but are reduced to a minimum.
The best results are achieved through personal greeting. Don’t worry that your letter of application might be read by another employee or secretary. The personal greeting will positively separate you from other applicants.
The key question here: how can one find out the name of the appropriate employee?
#1 best option: Read the job offer carefully. The name of the responsible employee can in most cases be found without any knowledge of German (see small screenshot).
Dear Mr. Schoerf,
I found your job advertisment …
On the screenshot please look closely at the name of the contact person: Herr René SCHÖRF. Umlaut** Ö will be replaced by “ОЕ”.
#2 best option: find the imprint (Impressum***) of the particular company. Search there for the name of the CEO. If there are several names, search for the CTO. If those names are not visible, you can pick any name intuitively.
3 Option: In the very last case, write “Dear Ladies and Gentlemen”. This corresponds to the greetings commonly used in Germany: “Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren”.
* – I often use umbrella term employer which in this case may include recipients like: HR manager, recruiter, CEO, CTO etc.
** – It is very easy to type the ß and the umlauts (the vowels with two dots on top) on the American keyboard. Instead of Ä type AE, instead of Ö – type OE, and instead of Ü – UE. Instead of ß type SS. Examples: Cologne ->Koeln, Müller -> Mueller, Straße -> Strasse.
*** – According to the law on mass media (§ 5 Telemediengesetz), since 2007 every website owner is obliged to publish his legal information as well as contact information. This information must be easy to find, easily identifiable and always accessible. One of the ways to find Imprint is to enter the name of the company + the word “Imprint” in the search field. Example: “Avira Operations GmbH Imprint”
© 2018 Jaroslav Plotnikov ( All articles )
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