Application: First impression counts

A carefully prepared application file involves a great deal of work and takes time. It is better to schedule a complete day rather than just a few hours to put an application file together. Once you have found a suitable job advertisement, note the application format desired in the job advertisement (via mail, e-mail, e-form or other) as well as the completeness of your documents. If nothing else is mentioned in the job ad, that means: cover letter, CV in tabular form, references, and proof of formal qualifications.

Job Advertisement

In order to write a convincing application, you must first of all convince them that you really want the job. Check whether the technical requirements correspond to your experience and skills. You should also still apply, even if you don’t have the necessary experience or skills, and emphasize in your cover letter that you are willing to complete or have concrete plans for further training. If an HR manager can clearly see your willingness or readiness for further training, missing skills are usually not criteria for rejection.   

OUR TIP: Ask the employer to inquire about offers and funding opportunities. Alternatively, we can assist your boss in finding current funding opportunities for Berlin. Contact us via talent@berlin-partner.

Your personal requirements for a job are just as important. Take a close look at the job advertisement and the associated company and see what your potential employer can offer you! Is there talk of "flat hierarchies" or are there clearly regulated operational structures? Are work-life balance, family friendliness, diversity, sustainability, home/remote work and continuing education an issue? Get an idea in advance of how these values are expressed in the respective company! In most cases you will find information about this on the companies' own websites. The following generally applies: Be creative and get a good idea of the company! For example, approach employees at company events or take a look at various websites for company evaluations in advance! Get a clear picture in advance and only apply if the job suits you and you fit the job!

OUR TIP:Many interesting jobs are advertised full-time. If you meet the requirements, but would rather work part-time in order to have time for other activities, then simply apply for a job as part of a pair! Modern platforms such as Tandemploy make it possible.

Check company valuations

Cover letter

A cover letter should not be longer than an A4 page and divided in three to four paragraphs. The subject line should contain the job title and, if available, the reference number. In some companies, cover letters are read very carefully, in others not. You have a 50/50 chance - take it!

The start: short and precise

Make a short and direct start. What are you looking for and why? Or what situation are you in at the moment? An example: "I will finish my studies in July. Therefore, I am looking for a career entry as...". Refer to the vacant post by making a first connection to your own experience. Don't repeat what you have already written in the subject line, namely what you are applying for.

OUR TIP: Generally avoid a formulated repetition of your resume.

The main body: creating links

Use the second paragraph of the cover letter to describe a particular experience, a project or a detail which is not particularly mentioned in the resume but is related to the job, the company, the products or serves as a proof of your professional skills that are required for the job.

Avoid general phrases such as "I am a team player, reliable and motivated". Rather describe what exactly you have done before, what you are interested in or what you consider to be challenging.

OUR TIP: Use wordings from the ad by skillfully incorporating them into the cover letter. You can emphasize important key words. Thus, a correspondence with the required profile may be detected while cross-reading the letter.

The closing paragraph: don't forget anything

The closing paragraph belongs to facts and figures depending on the information required in the ad. When can you start working? What are your salary expectations? Etc.

OUR TIP: State a salary range with a margin of no more than 5,000 euros. Research the current collective agreements in the sector as an orientation.

Don't be too polite or to casual when it comes to the complimentary close. Maybe you will come up with something different than "I hope to have aroused your interest and I am looking forward to an invitation for an interview". The HR manager is happy to read something else once in a while.

Don't forget to sign the letter or insert your scanned signature respectively.

The resume: begin with the most recent facts

A tabulated resume is a common practice. List your professional activities or job history and your professional and advanced training milestones. Always start with the most recent step. Dates are generally put on the left side.

OUR TIP: In case you had a stay abroad, no matter if it was during the studies or for a job, just put the name of the country under the date. This way, you incidentally convey that you have international experience without having to mention it specifically.   

Write down WHERE you worked, thus the name of the company, and WHAT your position was or the job title. Make sure to briefly describe what exactly you task there was or what you were responsible for. Again, focus on the desired job and the most relevant points for the company. Use verbs describing that you were responsible for a whole process from A to Z, for instance. Here are some examples: researching, analyzing, evaluating and processing data for customer presentations.

OUR TIP: You are a young professional? In this case, internships are important to mention. Add them to professional activities. Here it is again important to state what you have done and learnt there.

Braving the gap

A listing by month or summarized in larger periods? Gap free resumes are a hotly discussed topic. It is important that you are able to explain your gaps. Care of relatives, a sabbatical or an extended phase of professional orientation may be explicable reasons for a gap. The details and motives for it may be inquired by the HR manager during the interview. Be honest! In case of doubt, keep the gaps in the resume. Company takeovers, restructuring measures resulting in downsizing can affect anybody. Address these issues directly. Career breaks must not be considered a reason for a rejection nowadays.  

Languages, computer skills, hobbies

Language and computer skills complete the resume. Should hobbies be mentioned? Yes or no - this is often the question. It is not mandatory. If the hobby shows a personal facet with an indirect or supplementing reference to the job, this information might add the final touch on your application. For instance, if you are a coach in a sports club or practice a team sport in a more or less professional manner, it may serve as an interesting proof for sought after features such as the ability to work in a team, under pressure and pursuing goals. Reading, hiking and swimming, on the other hand, are general and less meaningful hobbies.

OUR TIP: Photographing, moderating, writing books and giving lectures as well as all hobbies pursued on a professional level are well placed in the section "Other professional activities".

Publications, project references

Scientists and authors keep a publication list, musicians a list of works, filmmakers collect their work in a filmography and the creative industry keeps project lists. This is an additional page in the resume. It again depends on the job you apply for and the employer.

For instance, if you apply as a graphic designer of an agency for another one, your project list will be read by an insider. Your work samples will be of key significance. This is often not enough when applying for a job in the marketing department of an institute, association or enterprise. It is HR managers and not sector experts who read your documents. They are often guided by reference letters and qualification certificates.   

The same applies to publication lists of scientists. Always ask yourself: Is this of any relevance for the recipient? Is it decisive for the job? This is a question of sensitivity. By providing the information "A complete list can be handed in later", you keep all options open.

Certificates, reference letters

Enclose the most current and important leaving certificates from your studies and vocational training as well as continuing education credits. The more recent the career entry, the more complete the documents should be. Internship certificates are required for young professionals since these are the only ones they have. At later stages, they can be omitted. Then, the reference letters by their employers matter most. Always keep in mind what is urgently required.

While reference letters are not common in other countries, they are considered very important in Germany. You also have the right to get one. A reference letter should contain your tasks and responsibilities as well as an assessment of your performance. Another part of the letter describes you as an employee and your distinctive features.

Furthermore, you can list people who can confirm particular professional skills of yours or report about projects you carried out together. Naturally, these people should know that they might get a call referring to this.

OUR TIP: If you refer to certain people, add information on the topic, skill or project the individual can report about.

To demonstrate language skills, the most important or the highest certificate is sufficient.

Work samples

Work samples are particularly a must when it comes to creative professions. In IT, you might have to submit a small program code. An appropriate professional article of yours or a link to a video showing you making a professional presentation might be also useful.

In conclusion, there are no strict standards. Ultimately, the style and structure is on you. However, some things have proved to be successful and are considered to be pleasant.

Cover Sheet and Photo

Are a cover sheet and photo required? Cover sheet: This is a matter of taste, subtlety and personality. Check what added value and benefit such a cover sheet could have for the chosen company. In the worst case, it is yet another page that a HR person has to read. Some HR professionals find that a two page resume is enough. Decide on a case-by-case basis according to your application! If you choose to do so, add a personal touch with a cover sheet and highlight your profile with your contact details and the skills that are crucial for the job. Ask yourself what you can do to win over decision makers within a few seconds. Photo: Whether on the cover sheet or the CV, a photo is not mandatory, but is still positively evaluated in applications. You decide for yourself what is right for you. The same applies to age, origin, children and marital status.

Short applications and competence profiles

If you get a tip for a job vacancy from your network, including a name and an e-mail address where you can send your documents, then be brief. Don't give your whole life story in the first e-mail.

OUR TIP: Come up with a few brief sentences. What is important is who you are, what your profession is and what kind of job you are looking for in this company. Get straight to the point and state quickly what you want (i.e., send in an application) and ask to whom you should send it. This also applies to telephone calls.

Short competence profiles, or a short CV, are a good idea for unsolicited applications. These should be sent like a cover letter with your name and no photo. It's best to fit your profile onto a quarter of a page. No more, please. This allows you to provide the company with a short summary of your relevant technical and management skills.

OUR TIP: If you need help writing your competence profile, get professional advice.

Criminal record certificate

There are certain jobs, in a security company or a government-related institution, for example, where a criminal record certificate is required by the employer. A criminal record certificate is a document printed on special paper containing complete identification information and providing reference whether a person has a clean record or not. It costs 13 euros and can be requested for at the registration office in your residential district. The average processing time is one to two weeks. Inquire in advance whether you need a criminal record certificate for the job of your dreams!


OUR TIP: If you own an electronic ID card which is ready for the online identification function and an appropriate card reader, you can request and pay for the criminal record certificate online.