Cover letters are your chance to set yourself apart from other applicants. They are also very important in Germany. Our tips will help you convince German employers to invest in you.
# What is a cover letter?
A cover letter accompanies your CV. It provides additional details to connect your skills and experiences (CV) to the specific position and organization (job post). It should answer these questions:
- What makes you a good fit for this position?
- Which skills or previous experiences do you have? How will they help you do the tasks for this position?
- Why do you want to intern or work for this company? Why this position?
- Why should this company hire YOU (and not another candidate)?
Question for internships
- What are your long-term career goals? How will this internship help you reach these goals?
# Why are Cover Letters Important?
A cover letter is a very important part of your application. In some industries or countries (like Germany), employers take cover letters very seriously and read them carefully.
A cover letter serves these purposes:
- Sales pitch - tell the employer that YOU are the best candidate for this position.
- Writing sample - highlight your writing skills
- Attention to detail - show your research skills, industry knowledge and understanding of the job post
- Additional information - share relevant details that aren't listed on your CV
- Gateway to your CV - convince the employer why they should look at your CV. In some cases, the employer may read your cover letter before the CV.
Always write a cover letter, even if it's optional. This gives you the chance to directly show the employer your interest, motivation and fit for the position.
# Cover Letter Research
Before writing your cover letter it’s important to do your research. This will help you better understand the position and company you’re applying for and how you fit their criteria.
Research the organization. Are they in an industry that you find interesting? What are your values and how does the organization match your values? What is the work culture like and does that appeal to you?
Look at the tasks/responsibilities and desired skills listed on the position description. Generally the most important tasks and skills are listed first. Have you done these or similar tasks? Do you have these skills? What examples do you have of these tasks and skills? How do your past experiences fit what the company is looking for?
Do you know anyone at this organization, like ESCP alumni or an employee you met at an event? Contact them with your specific questions about the position and the organization.
Once you have done this research and answered these questions, you are ready to create your cover letter.
# Cover Letter Considerations
Here are a few considerations that apply to all cover letters, regardless of country or industry.
- Tailor your cover letter for the specific position and company. See tips for tailoring your cover letter below.
- Write your cover letter from the employer's perspective. Only include relevant information for the position you’re applying for.
- Do NOT repeat your CV.
- Be clear with the information you include. Make sure the person reading your cover letter understands your skill-set, interest in and fit for the position.
- Use traditional business letter formatting. Include addresses, a salutation, etc.
- Limit your cover letter to 1 page.
- Avoid spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Save the cover letter as a PDF (unless requested otherwise) as FirstName_LastName_coverletter
- Vary your sentence lengths - don’t just use long or short sentences. Stick with one idea or concept per sentence.
# Cover Letter Sections
# Tailoring Your Cover Letter
You should tailor or adjust each cover letter to the specific position and company you are applying to. Do not use a generic cover letter or template for each application.
Each position and organization has different goals, values and requirements. A marketing intern has different tasks than a junior consultant. A small fintech start-up in Berlin has different goals than a large automobile manufacturer in southern Germany. Your cover letter should focus on the organization and how you can contribute to their goals and missions.
Employers regularly read hundreds or thousands of cover letters. They can tell when you use a template and when you tailor your cover letter.
Don't believe us? Here are the impressions employers have of different cover letter formats:
Ways to Tailor Your Cover Letter
- Address the cover letter to a specific person or group of people (ex: "Dear Marketing Department").
- Make specific connections between the position/company and you. How does the company’s mission fit your values? How do the top 2-3 tasks match your strengths and past experiences?
- Mention and talk about specific skills from the position description.
- Connect each point you made back to the position. How does each skill you mention connect to the tasks and responsibilities of this position? Make that connection for the employer, instead of assuming they will make the same connection for you.
- Avoid general statements like “your company” and “your job.” Use specific names.
- Leave off details that aren’t relevant or that don’t fit the specific job. Ask yourself “What is the value proposition of this sentence? How will this sentence help me get this position?”
# German Cover Letter
Cover letters are extremely important in Germany. Most organizations read them closely and factor them into your application. Always include a well-written professional cover letter!
Cover letters are especially important if you have few or no professional or educational experiences in Germany. Use your cover letter to describe your relevant international experiences to a German employer and to highlight the added value you bring to their organization.
# Next Steps
- Do your research.
- Write a rough draft of your cover letter.
- Make sure your cover letter is tailored to the specific job or internship you apply for.
- Proofread your cover letter! Use our Cover Letter Check List for guidance.
- Check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Ask for feedback from multiple people! If your cover letter isn’t in your native language, ask a native speaker for feedback.
- Make an appointment with your ESCP Career Advisors for feedback.