German cover letter

How To Write a Cover Letter in German? Tips & Examples

To apply for a job or an internship in Germany, your cover letter must be not only impeccable but also personalized because German recruiters scrutinize cover letters!

We will give you all the translations you need and explain everything: what wording to use and how formal it should be, how to start it, how to end it, what to put and what format to choose, so that you can get the job you want. In addition to our tips, you will find at the end of the article an example of a German cover letter in word and pdf for free download.

How do you say cover letter in German?

The translation of cover letter in German is “das Motivationsschreiben”. It simply means the motivation letter.

The application is called “die Bewerbung” in German and the applicant is called “der Bewerber” or “die Bewerberin”.

Salutation and opening greeting to use in a German cover letter

The cover letter in German is formal and you have to pay attention to the politeness, even if you apply by e-mail.

When you know the name of the person, write :

✔️ Sehr geehrter Herr Müller or Sehr geehrte Frau Müller,

If the person has a doctorate or is a professor, use the following salutation:

✔️ Sehr geehrter Herr Dr. Müller or Sehr geehrter Herr Professor Müller,

Namely: If the person is a professor and also has two doctorates, it was usual (not so long ago) to write:

✔️ Sehr geehrter Herr Prof. Dr. Dr. Müller,

but nowadays, it is enough to put only the highest title (Professor in this example). On the other hand, these titles must be specified in the address (at the very top of the letter).

If you do not know the name of the person, for example for an unsolicited application, simply write:

✔️ Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

This is also the standard, polite way to greet someone unknown in an e-mail in German, in a formal cover letter or in any business letter.

If you are applying for a job in a start-up or a rather young and untraditional organization, you can simply write:

✔️ Hallo Herr Müller,

Please note: The sentence that follows does not start with a capital letter!

Our advice: Start with “Sehr geehrter Herr Müller” and then if your interviewer changes to “Hallo Herr Dubois” or “Hallo Nicolas”, do the same.

How to start your cover letter in German?

The introduction should arouse the recruiter’s curiosity and make him or her want to read the rest. It should immediately highlight your profile and show your determination and passion for the position and the company you are applying to. This is how you will stand out from the other candidates.

It is also the first impression you give of yourself and we know that the first impression is always the strongest. It is indeed very difficult to get rid of a first impression, it is a cognitive bias called in psychology the anchoring or confirmation. So if your introduction is successful, it’s half the battle won (well, almost).

Avoid ready-made sentences, banal formulas and don’t repeat what’s in your resume or your CV. The introduction should be concise and not exceed 3 sentences.

Here is an example of a very effective personalized introduction:

Sehr geehrter Herr Müller,

seit sechs Jahren verfolge ich die Entwicklung von Elektroautos und die Fortschritte der Automobilbranche mit großem Interesse und habe mit Begeisterung von einem Praktikum (or von einer Stelle als …) in Ihrem Unternehmen gelesen. Als Student der Elektroingenieurswissenschaft mit abgeschlossener Ausbildung zum Mechatroniker verfüge ich über viel Knowhow gepaart mit Leidenschaft für Autos und technischem Feingefühl.

Another possibility is to emphasize your skills and successes, for example like this:

mit 6 Jahren Erfahrung als Sales Manager im Bereich B2B für große Saas- und Softwareunternehmen und einer langjährigen Affinität zu den Themen Preisstrategie und -Verhandlung bin ich der perfekte Kandidat für Ihre Stelle.

Our tip: 99% of all applicants write the same introduction in their cover letter almost word for word, so make sure you stand out if you want to have a chance of getting the job of your dreams!

What to put in your cover letter for a job application in Germany?

The objective of the cover letter is to convince the recruiter that you are the ideal candidate and that you correspond exactly to the profile sought. Basically, you must explain why the company should hire you and not someone else.

Do not copy your CV into your cover letter! Explain that you have the required skills, gained from your various experiences, and that they will be put to good use by the company.

For example:

Ich habe 4 Jahre Erfahrung als E-Commerce-Marketing-Analyst bei Fashionista (your position) gesammelt und war in dieser Zeit verantwortlich für die SEO-Strategie des Online-Shops und die Kundengewinnung. Ich konnte den Umsatz um 12% monatlich steigern und die Conversion Rate um 17% optimieren (mention your role, main responsibilities and results).

Or:

Als Marketingmanager des Fashionista Online-Shops erwarb ich fundierte Kenntnisse über Techniken zur Verkaufsoptimierung und lernte prägnante und überzeugende Texte zu verfassen.

In this example, the candidate does not go back to his professional experience, which has (surely) already been presented in his resume, but focuses on the skills he has acquired that he can bring to the company he is applying to.

You can also list your key skills, those that interest the recruiter, in the following way:

Meine Kernkompetenzen sind:

  • Online Kundengewinnung (SEO und Content Marketing)
  • Techniken zur Optimierung der Conversion Rate
  • Verfassen von prägnanten und überzeugenden Texten
  • Übersichtliche Darstellung von komplexen Daten

The recruiter quickly sees what interests him: it is clear, simple and effective!

Be as concise as possible: it is better for the recruiter (some prefer half-page cover letters) and it will force you to avoid length and repetition. In any case, do not exceed one page.

Our advice: The word “motivation” can be misleading. In reality, it is not a question of showing off your motivations but of showing the company what you could bring to them, what your qualities, skills and areas of expertise are.

How do you conclude a cover letter in German?

You can end your cover letter by showing that you would like to know more about the position and the company:

Auf die Gelegenheit, Ihr Unternehmen in einem persönlichen Gespräch kennenzulernen und mehr über die Position des Marketingassistenten zu erfahren, freue ich mich sehr.

Or finish by emphasizing your value:

Sehr gern überzeuge ich Sie in einem persönlichen Gespräch von meinen Fähigkeiten als Sales Agent und freue mich darauf, mehr über Ihr Unternehmen und die Stelle als Marketingmanager zu erfahren.

If you are applying for an internship, you can end your cover letter as follows:

Auf eine persönliche Vorstellung, in der ich Sie von meiner Leidenschaft für die Energiebranche, meiner Motivation für ein Praktikum im Projektmanagement sowie meinen Kenntnissen in der Auswertung der Energiedaten überzeugen kann, freue ich mich.

The most common greeting at the end of an email or a letter in German is:

✔️ Mit freundlichen Grüßen

If you already know the person or after several mail exchanges, you can use either of these two polite formulas which correspond to Cordially in German:

✔️ Viele Grüße or Beste Grüße

Skip a line after the greeting and add your signature and your name below.

Our tip: Unlike in English, there is no comma after the greeting at the end of a german letter.

Sample cover letter in German to download

Here is a sample cover letter in German in PDF and Word for free download.

Lexicon and vocabulary to translate your cover letter into German

Cover letter: Das Motivationsschreiben

CV / Resume: Der Lebenslauf

Dear Madam, Dear Sir: Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

Dear Sir: Sehr geehrter Herr Müller,

Sincerely yours: Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Best regards: Viele Grüße ou Beste Grüße

Skills: Fähigkeiten / Kenntnisse

Languages skills: Sprachkenntnisse

Company: das Unternehmen / die Firma

Professional experience: die Berufserfahrung

Internship: das Praktikum

Job application: Die Bewerbung

Job interview: das Vorstellungsgespräch

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