Should you be invited to the interview or not? After a brief review of your letter, the recipient should answer this question with a definite yes. Make it simple for the recipient of your application: Your application must be clear and the essentials must be quickly understood. In addition, it must be customized for your individual career path and be focused on the specific position and company. In your cover letter, therefore, you should explain briefly, precisely and clearly why you are the right candidate for the position. Your basic message in the cover letter is: "I have understood who and what the company needs and can provide it!
How do you proceed?
Analyse the position description: What are the most important terms of the description? Mark the keywords as they should reappear in the cover letter. Then assign the keywords to your skills from your current career history. This means that the position description provides a framework for the structure of your cover letter. It’s that simple!
Cover letter or letter of motivation?
In the business world, a cover letter is required in most cases. Often the terms "cover letter" and "motivation letter" are used interchangeably here. In both cases you are expected to explain why you are the right person for the job and why you are applying for exactly this position.
A motivation letter for a scholarship has however different requirements than an application for a company. You can learn how to write a cover letter for the Deutschlandstipendium scholarship with our Tips for the motivation letter for the Deutschlandstipendium scholarship.
Cover Letter - Structure
A cover letter classically consists of an introduction, a main part and a conclusion. In the following you will find tips with suitable wording examples on how you should structure your cover letter and which information should be placed in which part.
Please click on the corresponding term for further information:
Spark the reader's interest in the first sentence. Cleverly combine this with a reference to the job offer. This can be followed by an introductory sentence about yourself, so that you make a transition to the main part.
Awaken interest & establish reference to the job offer
- How you found out about the company/job or
- Say Thanks for a phone call, conversation at a fair, etc.
- Voluntary information:
- Why does the job in the company seem interesting to you?
- What attracts you to this company?
- "Sincere thanks for the friendly and informative conversation at the xy trade fair. It encouraged me to..."
- "You are looking for... (Followed by a short summery of the position) I'm offering ..."
- "I read with great enthusiasm that ..."
- "For several years now I have been following the development of your company/research work in the area of xy ..."
- "Mr. Xy informed me that you are seeking..."
- "I'm applying for the position as a prospective xy..."
- Since I finished my internship at the ... AG (=identical company) in the field xy, I follow the further development of your company with great interest. I am therefore pleased to have taken note of your job announcement and would like to introduce myself as a committed and ... applicant.
Here you have the opportunity to demonstrate that your qualifications match the requirements of the company exactly and that you are therefore the right candidate for the specific vacancy. Ask yourself the question with each sentence:
"Why am I exactly the right person for this position?"
- If necessary, write an introductory sentence about yourself
- Demonstrate professional qualifications required in the announcement with concrete examples from your own career
- Demonstrate personal skills required in the announcement with concrete examples from your own career
- Job analysis: Underline the keywords in the job description.
- Comparison: compare company requirements in terms of professional qualifications and soft skills with your own qualifications
- Select the most important and suitable requirements for you. Generally, you cannot cover all the requirements in a job description.
- Address the concrete needs & expectations of the company.
- Name the keywords from the job description or the homepage.
- Then explain why you have exactly this ability and provide an example from your career to prove the respective qualification.
- Always with regard to the specific job.
- Avoid simple repetition of the curriculum vitae!
- "Based on my current professional background, I have the experience/knowledge described by you in ..."
- "As a freshly graduated computer scientist I would like to contribute to the success of your company with great commitment."
- "With great pleasure I would like to put my acquired knowledge into practice in your company."
- "Due to my studies of industrial engineering and management with focus on xy, which I will presumably finish in two months with the grade ..., I have first knowledge in the field of xy. I was already able to deepen this knowledge during my thesis on the topic xy."
- "I was able to gain practical experience on the subject ... during an internship semester at the company ... There I.…"
In the conclusion, you will have the opportunity to convey a positive impression of your application to the recipient. Try to find an individual, positive final formulation that flatters the recipient. Here you can once again emphasize your motivation and at the same time show that you are well informed about the company. This way you will distinguish yourself from the majority of applicants who have not done exactly that. At this point you can also address any organizational information that may be required. The conclusion of the Cover Letter consists of a polite but confident request to respond.
Distinguish yourself positively:
- Approach the company individually, ideally you show that you are well informed about the company
- Is there a first indication of this in the job description?
- Research on homepage: Is there a specific business objective that the company wants to achieve in the middle term? An award that one wants to win? A concrete research project?
- Mentioning possible starting date
- Salary expectations, if required
- Readiness to change location, if required
Finally: Call for Response
- "I would like to play an active role in winning next year's Enterprise Award xy for your company."
- "I would like to contribute my enthusiasm for xy and my personal pioneering character (terms from job description / homepage) to Maier-Müller AG."
- "As Brand Manager I would like to develop your top products in the food sector in a future-oriented way and ..."
- "I can support your team from 01.03. To 31.08.20xx with my engagement."
- "Should you have any further questions, I would be happy to answer them in a personal conversation."
Cover Letter Initiative Application
In the case of an initiative application, the description text, which is the framework for the cover letter, is missing. This is where you are called upon: Create your own job announcement. What do you expect the announcement to look like? You can find information on the homepage and in comparable job announcements of the company as well as its competitors. You also have the opportunity to gather information by visiting fairs, making telephone calls and reading specialist material. Once you have considered the company's requirements and written them down, proceed as described above.
Cover Letter - Formalities
A cover letter should be no longer than one page, with formatting based on the DIN standard for letters. Please make sure that your cover letter does not contain any spelling or grammatical errors. Always have someone else read a completed cover letter! For enrolled international students at KIT the Studierendenwerk Karlsruhe offers a free German proofreading service.
Below we have summarized the most important formatting rules for you:
- Orientation to DIN 5008
- Keep to page margins
- 1-line line spacing
- Do not compress
- Important: Max. one page!
- Font and font size well readable, not too small (min. 10 pt).
- Recommended: Arial (11 pt) (classic), Calibri (12), Calibri (11), Verdana (10)
- Bahnschrift (11) Not justified, for better readability use left alignment.
Date and Place
Salutation and Text
Greeting and Closure
- One blank line between the text of the cover letter and the greeting
- "Sincerely yours"; "Best wishes"; "Greetings from Karlsruhe"
- Don't forget your signature (scan it in and insert it as an image)
- Optional: First and last Name
- After the signature one often write the term "Attachments" in Germany
- Can be placed, but is not necessary
- Attached documents are no longer listed
Cover Letter - Examples
The perfect application can look for each applicant, job or company completely different. A cover letter that has been formulated with a lot of effort for a specific position does not fit for other positions.
Consider our sample documents as a suggestion, yours can look completely different - the main purpose is that they are clear and all essentials can be understood quickly.
Example-Cover Letter Job Start after Gradation (German)
Example-Cover Letter Internship with little experience (German)
Example-Cover Letter Internship with experience (German)
Example-Cover Letter with PhD (German)