Cover letters are always a topic of discussion: Many find them too long, too inefficient, simply superfluous HR-Experts. Company like Deutsche Bahn have long since abolished it. And many too Candidate would love to give each other the warm effusions.

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What are the personnel of applicants really wanting

"Dear Sir or Madam…. blah blah… work with your publisher ”was one Applicationthat I had recently on the screen - and in the same time I noticed several errors that only resulted from one: The applicant had simply given too little effort!

Bad applications usually go straight to the wastebasket. Again, this one: the impersonal salutation that suggested the same eMail to umpteen editorial offices had passed. On the other hand, the applicant did not seem to have bothered to tell them what I'm doing and how he can get involved. So away with it!

“Sorry, it wasn't for you at all”

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Like me in this case, it happens to many HR and potential employers: And it's amazing that the same simple mistakes are made over and over again in spite of countless application counselors. Recently a colleague told me that he had an application per eMail which apparently was addressed to another editorial staff - and an hour later one eMail: "Oh, sorry, it wasn't meant for you ..."

It is actually always the same thing HR want: Find someone who fits the job profile as well as possible and not just anyone. And someone who is really serious about their application, who really cares about the Company wants to use and who is reliable.

Personnel start with cheating

An astonishing fact is: Apparently most finance and HR managers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland assume that the information in the Curriculum vitae cheated. says at least one study for which recruitment agency Robert Half surveyed over 2.525 HR and finance professionals in 11 countries.

The study examined career trends and developments in eleven countries: Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Dubai, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. And leads to the question: If the majority of HR staff is so skeptical, then what chances do you have with a candid application - assuming 50% is deducted from every claim you make as a candidate?

Skepticism about language and software knowledge

In any case, the temptation for many applicants is great to exaggerate a bit in their résumé - for example, to state perfect English skills if you can only talk to one another or to view your last vacation as an impressive international experience sell. “They don't even notice it,” many think. But what is the truth?

Personnel managers are skeptical, especially with regard to language and software knowledge and the reasons for changing jobs. Even when it comes to the management skills of applicants, HR managers are on guard.

Why job change?

39 percent of the Germans, 40 percent of the Austrians and 36 percent of the Swiss Recruiter assume that applicants in the old job had less responsibility than they claim. About half of the finance and HR managers in Austria and a third in Germany and Switzerland are just as suspicious when Candidates about the exact Tasks tell the previous job.

However, according to the respondents, applicants should not disguise the real reason for the change. Because HR managers pay a lot of attention to the specialist knowledge and professional experience of a candidate. Therefore, when studying an application, many personnel managers first take the professional one qualification of a job applicant under the magnifying glass (25 percent in Germany, 32 percent in Austria and 30 percent in Switzerland) - and, if necessary, check the references.

Empathy for the HR specialist

Personnel managers are often scolded, who only have to make standardized settings and work through the flood of applications almost like a robot - it is not for nothing that the topic of robotRecruiting one of the most talked about in recent years.

However, applicants also seem to have the ability to put themselves in others People to think and to feel, not particularly pronounced. Otherwise not many recruiters, employers, companies or bosses would think about the same thing Problem complain, as I do again and again: They are flooded with absolutely unsuitable applications. And how many HR managers actually have the time to double-check the information provided by their applicants and look for references? And what percentage of applicants do this?

Complete the role reversal

So what helps: Complete the role reversal. This is the best way to find out how to respond to your application. Imagine yourself in a similar situation:

10 tips for the application from a personal point of view

However, as it is probably not enough just to get used to the opposite, we have listed 10 tips here once again, which will make it easier for the HR specialist to sift through your application.

  1. Take a look: What are you applying for? In the subject of your application, refer to the title of the position to be filled and the company. To do this, use the original description used in the job description (eg “Process / chemical engineer (m / f) at XY Co. KG.”). But the salutation already has some pitfalls: rather general or addressing someone directly? Study the job description carefully and see if you cannot find the name of a specific contact person. If not, it is worth calling and asking the company: "Who can I address my application to ...?" This shows commitment and interest.
  2. Avoid unconcrete: Take enough time to write your application text. The reader should notice that you really looked at the job. Qualities such as the ability to work in a team, flexibility and a sense of responsibility are important, but they usually don't set you apart from other applicants. Take a close look at the job advertisement and think about how you can bring your particular strengths into line with the job requirements. For example, if the job requires an “independent and conscientious way of working”, you could prove your experience in the independent management of projects, which requires a high degree of self-organization, conscientiousness and a sense of duty.
  3. Use your cover letter also for form applications: Form applications are all the rage. This is mainly due to the fact that they are extremely practical due to the time saved - especially for companies. But for applicants it often means here: Only an application with a cover letter is a complete application! As a rule, forms do not exempt the applicant from enclosing a full cover letter. This can usually be integrated under the heading “Upload more documents” (or similar). You will find a reference to the required documents under the information on the application process.
  4. Stay consistent: Even if the curriculum vitae and the cover letter are separated files, they still create your digital application portfolio. Therefore, you should pay attention to a uniform layout - not only the font, but also the font size, the line spacing as well as the foot and / or header are to be found in cover letter and CV.
  5. Summarize: Certainly you have a lot to tell, especially when it comes to explaining gaps in your CV or changing your business, and to put them in the right light. But in general, a cover letter should not be more than one page. Therefore, focus on your essential professional qualifications that are relevant to the job and specifically formulate your motivation. If you can convince here, there is still enough space to explain everything else in the personal conversation.
  6. Do not hide your personality: Be individual and avoid standard phrases such as “… I am applying for the position…” or “… I was able to identify myself with the profile of the advertised position”. Be yourself - dare to give your application a personal touch, whether with a little humor, a special writing style or a creative start. Show with a little flair why you are the ideal candidate for the company.
  7. Avoid clerical errors: Please handle your application conscientiously. After all, there is nothing more annoying than grammar or spelling mistakes caused by pure negligence. In the worst case, even if the other qualifications meet the requirements of the position, this even threatens to be selected from the application process. To avoid these mistakes, ask friends or acquaintances to read with an alert eye over your text. Alternatively, it helps to cover the cover letter a few hours and then have a look again.
  8. Do not make it hard for the reader: Just like with a well-written story, put sections of meaning. This will help the reader to understand your application text more easily. Remember: a HR manager usually does not spend more than two minutes per application (according to our experience). So write an exciting short story and not a novel. You should also avoid long nested sentences. This contributes significantly to a positive overall impression of you and increases your chances of being shortlisted.
  9. Avoid inattention: You should not lose a bad word about your old or current employer, not just in the application interview, but already in the application form. This could be a sign of lack of loyalty on your part and will not be seen at a potential new employee. Nobody would like to imagine how bad his opponent could talk about him in the future.
  10. Ask for the application for:  To find out what it was exactly, you can ask in case of refusal just once: What was it? What impression has my application made on you? Because only experience brings on.


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