Working as employee
How to apply for a job in Germany
Learn how to create a persuasive application according to German standards.
Covering letter: present yourself
The covering letter expresses the motivation of your application.
Try to find an interesting introduction in order to arouse interest in the reader. It is crucial not to simply list the stages of the CV. Always keep in mind that HR managers often receive shoals of applications. Only those, who have convincing answers to the central questions, have a chance to succeed: Why are you the right person for this specific job? Why do you want to work in this company? Do you have expert knowledge? Are there any interdisciplinary skills which can be useful for this position?
Tip: Stick closely to the profile of qualifications and systematically point out those requirements you are able to fulfill. Use the words from job description in order to make it easier to read for HR. Close the covering letter with a polite salutation.
Your résumé/CV: Which information is required?
The CV is the central part of your application. It contains your contact data, personal information as well as your professional profile.
The most difficult part of creating a professional CV is to find a moderate balance of information: Avoid listing every single stage of your career. The HR Manager is not interested in each side job you were performing during college. As long as it does not create gaps in your résumé, you should leave out irrelevant stages. Stick to this rough rule of thumb: Write as much as necessary but leave out as much as possible. Only those stages, which have a direct or at least indirect connection to the position you are applying for, are of any interest for your potential employer. On the other hand it is crucial to describe precisely, what you were actually doing in those positions listed in the CV.
Particularly when you are applying as foreign national, HR managers might not know which actual content hides behind the job title.
Tip: List the most important three to five tasks and responsibilities linked to the particular position in a prosaic manner. Additionally you can point out significant attainments within a position.
Tip: We recommend to use the American style where the stages of your career are listed chronologically, starting with the latest position.
Don't forget the picture! Unlike in America/England, where it is forbidden to apply with a picture, German HR need one. Take a picture with a neutral background.
Tip: Spend the couple of Euros in getting professional ones done.
Most foreign candidates do not know that they are supposed to add a picture on the CV. This procedure is very common in Germany, even though aspirants are not obliged to do so from a legal point of view. Therefore you will not find an extra hint within the job ad. We strongly recommend to stick to this unwritten application law. As portrait photos for job applications are conventional in Germany, any professional photo shop will know exactly what companies expect and will help you to pick an appropriate outfit for the photo session.
Each station mentioned in the CV should be documented by credentials, such as certificates, diploma, or letters of recommendations. Important exception: Applications by e-mail should contain as few attachments as possible. If there is no clear hint in the job ad, call the company before you send your application and ask which documents are required. This is, at the same time, a clever method to emphasize your ambitions and ask for further information.
Networking and Pitching
Besides sending out your applications, it is strongly recommended to actively participate in different events in the area you want to work. Always carry with you a fresh version of your CV, a business card or a card with your contact information and a short pitch about your professional experience that may interest potential employer. A typical career pitch can include a statement about yourself, like “ I am an enthusiastic marketer in the area of online marketing. Last 2 years I had a chance to work in different fields, like IT, HR and project management. As a result of my professional experience, I became an expert in the areas of social media marketing, content management. Currently, I am looking for a new working challenge in this area.” Write down short sentence, repeat them several times and be ready to present it any time. You never know where you can meet your potential employer.
Professional Social Networks
Every second employer is searching for the potential employees in the social networks like LinkedIn and Xing (in Germany very important). Make sure that you have a professional profile photo, clear description of your skills and knowledge, experience related to the job position you are searching for. Don’t be afraid to add some of your student projects, initiatives. Depending on a position you want to have, you need to stand out from the crowd and your extracurricular activities can help you to reach it. Don’t forget to clean up your other social network profiles from information that can push away potential employer, e.g. photos, videos. Digital reputation is closely aligned with personal reputation.