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Why a good cover letter matters

“Do I really need to write this?” This question often pops into everyone’s mind when facing a blank page, attempting to craft a compelling cover letter for a job they’ve just found online. We won’t sugarcoat it – writing a cover letter might not be the most enjoyable task, but here’s the truth: it’s still an indispensable part of the application process in Germany. Let’s delve into why companies value it and how understanding its importance can motivate you to create a compelling one.

Make a good initial impression

Your application documents are usually the first impression a company, or more commonly, the HR person responsible for recruitment, has of you. This is your initial handshake with the company, and research tells us that humans form opinions about others within the first few seconds, often sticking with those impressions. Many job postings end with a request like “Bitte reichen Sie Ihre vollständigen Bewerbungsunterlagen mit Lebenslauf und persönlichem Anschreiben an….” (Please submit your application documents including CV and cover letter to….). Now, consider submitting only a CV and skipping the cover letter. It’s akin to taking an exam with two pages of multiple-choice questions and turning in just one page – your chances of success? Pretty low. It sends a message that you either can’t follow instructions or won’t fulfill requests, not qualities a company seeks in an employee.

Create a joint future

Moreover, think about the distinct purposes of your CV and cover letter. Your CV delves into your past – where you’ve worked, what you’ve accomplished, your educational background. In contrast, the cover letter provides a glimpse into your future. How do you envision collaborating with the company? Where do your professional passions lie, and how can they contribute to the company’s growth?

The cover letter is the ideal space to convey what matters to you in your future career and how you foresee working together.

Show off your soft skills

Another crucial difference is that the CV typically emphasizes hard skills, measurable experiences, and certifications. However, the cover letter allows you to spotlight your motivations and strengths that may not find space in your CV. While the CV might mention a project or technology you’ve worked on, the cover letter lets you explain how your strengths played a pivotal role in project success or in implementing new technologies.

Bridge the Gap

Let’s be honest: the likelihood of your background being a perfect match for the job is rather slim. Most candidates apply when they perceive themselves as at least a 50% fit – or even less. The cover letter provides a platform to clarify how you can bridge the gaps and contribute, even if you’re not the “perfect” candidate (hint: the perfect candidate probably doesn’t exist). Never worked with a technology mentioned in the job description? Explain your quick learning ability with specific examples and how you’ve adapted to new technologies before.

It’s your sales tool

Finally, the cover letter offers an opportunity to stand out and reveal a bit of your personality. CVs tend to look quite similar, leaving little room for personal flair. However, the cover letter allows you to bring your unique character to the table. German companies aren’t just interested in fulfilling formal requirements; they want employees who fit into existing teams, contribute to business success, and align with corporate culture and atmosphere. Let the German company know who you are beyond your formal achievements (but, of course, present the version of you that never makes any spelling mistakes).

It’s basically a tool that you use to sell yourself as an ideal candidate for your future employer!

Make it unique!

In terms of content, your cover letter should address these fundamental questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What can you do?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • What does the company gain from hiring you?

The last two questions demand some research on your part, and you’ll need to customize each cover letter to the specific company and position you’re applying for. If you’re eager to learn more about crafting a cover letter, consider joining one of our online or offline workshops on this topic.

As mentioned, writing a cover letter isn’t a walk in the park, and we don’t expect you to revel in it. However, we hope you now have enough motivation to conquer your aversion, producing a convincing and unique document that sets you apart from the competition. Remember, a well-crafted cover letter can be the key to getting your foot into the German job market.