10 Ways to Strengthen Your Resume in the German Job Market

Originally posted on The Local

While there are similarities between applying for jobs in Germany and in other countries, there are differences too. Here’s what you need to know about German language applications to help you nab the job you’ve always wanted in ‘Schland.

1. Tailor your CV and cover letter

Though this point might already be common knowledge, a “lack of appreciation” in investing the time to tailor an application is “probably the most common mistake” candidates looking to enter the German job market make, according to business management consultant based in Düsseldorf, Chris Pyak.

Pyak suggests candidates do their homework, research their potential employer and show this in the form of a well-prepared application in which a candidate has also reflected on why he or she is the right person for the role.

The website LiveWorkGermany.com calls this “time consuming and intensive” process a “necessary evil if you want to see results.”

2. Keep your cover letter to one page

An application’s cover letter is usually only one page and must get straight to the point, Nadine, a former HR specialist at Volkswagen, told The Local.

Whereas English job applications sometimes focus more on the CV, the cover letter is the most important component of a German job application, according to Hamburg-based translation company tolingo.

Tolingo advise not only to make sure your cover letter gives a short yet thorough overview of your experiences, skills and motivations, it should also be clear, informative, convincing and free of mistakes.

In Germany – as in many other countries – grammar and spelling mistakes found anywhere in an application are a no-go.

Having said that though, I personally have friends and acquaintances who have nabbed jobs with typos in their applications. So don’t fret if you’ve pressed send only to realize afterward there were minor mistakes in your CV. We’re all only human, after all.

3. Avoid words which seem soft like could (könnte) or would (würde), but don’t brag

Choose decisive words and use strong sentence structure instead, suggests Nadine. Overuse of words like could or would can make an application difficult to grasp.

At the same time, though, keep in mind that Germans tend to consider some information on an English CV to be superfluous or even egotistical.

While this doesn’t mean you should leave out descriptions of personal interests and hobbies (which show how you stand out from other candidates) in your German CV, it could mean that in your choice of wording you strike a fine balance between showing confidence and refraining from bragging.

If you have been treated in a discriminatory manner at your workplace, visit HKM.com to find out what to do.

Read seven more tips on The Local. Happy job hunting!