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Best of HR –®Antje Rabenalt is interim personnel manager. The trained business mediator and European business administration graduate initially worked in the advertising industry and graduated on the subject of "Conflict as a cost factor". For several years she was head of the capital city office and regional board member Berlin Brandenburg of the EUCON Institute, later she was a personnel developer at Zukunft im Zentrum and project manager Talent Service at Berlin Partner GmbH. 2005 she founded an agency for business mediation and helps executives with problems with a grief hotline . She occasionally tests solutions to conflict situations in the family: She has two children. All texts by Antje Rabenalt.

Finding a job in Germany: How to apply properly

How do you apply for a job in Germany as a highly qualified person? Remember: yours Casting only has 90 seconds to attract attention. Therefore, the right preparation is everything!


Apply in Germany

An application in Germany consists of 5 parts and differs from that here in the USA. You need:

  • a letter.
  • LebensLauf
  • Certificates
  • Photo is always recommended (very different to US !!!!!!)
  • The eMailwith which you send these documents.

When I first saw Thomas' application, I was shocked. I was very impressed and it was very difficult for me to give him the following advice.

What happened?

The cover letter was three pages long and the resume was a book. Thomas had everyone Itemshe had written, detailed every project he had worked on. In the letter he described in detail his thoughts and visions of his life.

It was really impressive to read and there was no doubt - Thomas was a very intelligent man.

Unfortunately, there are two types of hiring managers. Half of them read a cover letter. The other half don't. So you have a 50/50 chance. Is that enough when you're looking for a job? And how do you do it better?

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How is an application structured?

An application in Germany typically consists of these parts:

The cover letter

Never write in a cover letter that says something about your resume. Do not write a novel! And always remember the number 90. These are the seconds when your application has time to attract attention.

90 seconds to decide whether to land on the pile of rejections or receive an invitation. Perhaps these are the most important 90 seconds in your career and you are not there to positively influence the process.

The cover letter

A cover letter consists of three parts on one page.

Paragraph 1

You have already written in the reference line what you want and what the reader expects. Do not repeat this. This is one of the most common Error. At the beginning of the first paragraph you get straight to the point.

“I will finish my PhD in July 2014 at MIT. I am looking for a trainee program with a medical professional. Technology company in August. "

Paragraph 2

You have already read the job description very carefully. In the second part you describe the connection between your experience and the experience that the Company seeks. Here you have the opportunity to describe projects that you only briefly mentioned on your résumé.

You want the reader to nod in this paragraph. The HR manager must feel that the applicant has everything he needs. This paragraph is an opportunity to arouse interest.

Paragraph 3

Paragraph 3 is one of the numbers, dates and facts. Make it easy for your readers; tell them how and when they are available. Convert the time difference. Such as

"You can reach me by phone or Skype from 18 p.m. German time."

At the end comes the farewell.

The Vita

The list below is the section “Work experience”. It should contain:

  • Where did you work? The name of the institute, the university and the university.
  • The name of the position / function
  • Name three to a maximum of 5 tasks for which you were responsible, describe what you have done in short sentences.
  • Use active words like Design, Implementation and evaluation.

Companies have to find new forms of application

Only when companies look at applications differently will they find good people. I've talked to many human resources managers and told them the story of Thomas and other people like him. They should change their perspective on the application documents.

For as it is now, people like Thomas will continue to find work.

Skilled shortage homemade

In Germany, we are currently talking about talent shortages. But people like Thomas do not find work. Berlin is currently developing tools such as a metajob search engine, which can find all vacancies offered in Berlin, jobs in companies and universities.

You will also find a lot of useful information about life in Berlin, which schools are there for your children and how the immigration authorities work. Thats my job. And now do yours and start with point 1, find out what you really want.

A long way

It took months for Thomas to do all the things we had worked on. He had read about a company that was dealing with changes to the nano surface. That interested him. Then, on the company's homepage, he discovered a job offer as an employee for purchasing.

They were looking for someone who could calculate and negotiate. At the same time, this person had to be able to communicate with the engineers in the research and development department, on the one hand, and the production designer, on the other.

Think about what you are applying for

They were looking for someone who understands development and production. They were looking for someone who knew why it is necessary to use high quality raw materials. It was a combination of all his abilities. He wanted this job.

The first application was a rejection. I called the HR manager and asked him why. And that is my last tip: the private sector is only partially interested in scientific writing and articles. Think carefully about what you are applying for. For a university career, this list must be complete.

Lost in theory?

In the case of Thomas, this caused the fear that he would not be able to work fast enough; the fear that he gets lost in theory instead of finding practical solutions quickly. The HR manager thought that Thomas could find the technical equipment and facilities that the company was looking for too old.

And finally, the hiring manager feared that his salary requirement would be too high. You can name some of your publications, not all, in the category other occupational activities.


If necessary, you should indicate the desired salary in the cover letter with Part Three, Facts and Figures. Thomas got the job.

Now he is the star of the shopping and part of a team. Since he is a generalist and knows a little about everything the company has to deal with, he can advise his colleagues. He has not become a famous scientist. He is a typical typist and as far as I know he is happy this way.

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2 responses to "Job search in Germany: How to apply correctly"

  1. Antonio Masini says:

    Thank you for putting so much time into so many good posts on your blog.

  2. Claud Vehrenkamp says:

    Good article, all right. More can not say that.

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