Application documents

Woman with CV and resume  © Robert Kneschke | Dreamstime.com


Personal information

First and last names, address, date and place of birth, nationality or residence permit. The inclusion of a photograph on the CV is viewed favourably in Germany. But only include professionally taken photographs; do not use snapshots and holiday pictures. The photograph should be inserted on the top right-hand side of the first page of your CV, or on the cover which may precede the application itself.

School education
The individual stages of your school education may be summarised. In Germany, it is sufficient to state the highest qualification attained. If you attended a well-known day or boarding school, this should be mentioned.
Higher education
State the nature and subject of your course, as well as the university you attended. Did you specialise in a particular subject or have you engaged in research on a specific topic? Is the subject of your dissertation or thesis related to the present application? Have you completed your studies?
Professional training
Here you should indicate the nature and place of your training, and the qualification gained.
Professional activity
Professional activity is a very important element of your application. Here you should specify your profession and position. Put down the correct name of the company and where it is headquartered. A description of your responsibilities, apart from self-evident tasks, is particularly important.
Further training
Have you completed any further training which aided your professional progress? Indicate the nature and organiser of the course, and content if necessary.
Other information
This is where to list which languages you speak. Are you particularly well-versed in any software packages? Or are you socially committed, and does your commitment fit in with the position sought? Such points are listed under this heading.

Employers’ references

References are very important in Germany. Be sure to ask for a reference when leaving any position. Easily legible copies of references or certificates are attached to the application.


In Germany, all documentation is placed in a special application folder or clip file and then sent off. Application folders can be purchased in stationery shops, large department stores and even in supermarkets. The following order should be observed when inserting the documents: Cover (not obligatory), CV, followed by copies of references and certificates in chronological order (beginning with the most recent). The cover letter is included, loose, outside the application folder. Finally, everything is placed in a large, good quality envelope (not to be bent).

Cover letter regarding a job advertisement or speculative application

The cover letter is the most important document in a German application, as it gives you the opportunity to lay out your professional and personal qualities to the recipient. In order to be successful in gaining an interview, it is important to personalise your cover letter and tailor it to the requirements of the position.
There are two ways of applying in Germany: One possibility is to apply for an advertised position. This kind of application is easier, as the advertisement usually features a job description to which you can refer in your cover letter.
The other possibility is to apply speculatively to companies you are interested in. A speculative application must be put together with care, as it is sent in the absence of a job advertisement and the company may not actively be looking for new employees.
It is therefore advisable not to write a standard letter composed of set phrases, which you send out indiscriminately in large numbers. It is far more important to focus on the company itself and demonstrate why you in particular would be suited to working for it.
As a general rule, the cover letter should be no more than a page in length. It should also be structured in paragraphs. These should group together logically connected sentences. The cover letter as a whole must contain the following elements:

• Address, including name of contact person
• Sender’s name along with contact information
• Date
• Informative subject line (with applicant number, if available)
• Salutation, naming the contact person
• Body of cover letter
• Signature

Type your application documents on a computer and print on white A4 paper, leaving a sufficient margin. Avoid spelling or typing errors and make sure that your documents have no creases. Use a uniform font and font size across all your application documents.

Make sure that dates and personal information given in your cover letter and CV match.

Ideally, you should keep a copy of each application so that you can remember exactly what you wrote, should you be invited for an interview.