Your dream job is just one application away: how to triumph with your application documents
Cover letter, CV, references – voilà, your application is complete. Or is anything still missing? Exactly, the final flourish! Make sure you stand out from other candidates by giving your application documents unique characteristics. For example with the ‘third page’. Using the following tips and our checklist for your application documents, you can put together the perfect application.
Your application is your image – look at it very carefully
Your application documents are your image brochure: in a few lines you reflect exactly what defines you. Where are your strengths? Where do you have potential? Visualise your hard (e.g. knowledge of SAP) and soft (e.g. team player) skills in a plus-minus list. Show off your strengths and deliberately emphasise these in your CV and cover letter.
The standard cover letter
There is no place for grammar mistakes, typos or stylistic slip-ups. A perfect cover letter consists of one standard A4 page and approximately twelve sentences. Both of these should perfectly articulate your advantages and your professional knowledge, and really impress the human resources manager. Tip: have your application documents proofread by at least one other person. You'll find writing tips and convincing arguments for the cover letter here.
The following elements belong to an application letter like the alphabet does to the dictionary:
- Personalised receiver address
- Place, date
- Subject line (maximum two lines)
- Personalised form of address
- Application text
- Signature by hand
- Reference to enclosed/attached documents
You can choose the font and colour according to your taste. Or familiarise yourself with the DIN standard 5008.
It’s showtime: you’re the star on your application’s cover sheet
Not everyone likes this idea – but a cover sheet is the perfect place to grab someone’s attention. An 8 x 5 cm photo in landscape format gives your application documents a special edge. Do you think that’s too much? No problem: although you’re not obliged to include a photo in your application, if you don't, you miss the chance of getting some brownie points.
Name every rung on your career ladder in your CV
Short, brief, clear: present the different stages of your career without any gaps on maximum two standard A4 pages with succinct keywords. The most appropriate form is chronologically in reverse. Which means: you start with the most recent date and end with the job that was furthest back in the past. You can read about which main topics belong in a complete CV here.
The “third page” of your application: the final flourish
Every now and again you should allow yourself to indulge a little. This also applies to temptations like the “third page”. Some people don’t like dessert; others on the other hand celebrate the crowning finish and will be happy to sample your bonus information with relish. Put whatever you can’t fit in the twelve sentences of the cover letter on the third page: motivation statement, explanations of gaps in your CV, an overview of projects or particular achievements. But don’t go too far: fifteen lines maximum are enough.
Always a double pack: application documents and attachments
Stop! First the check the attachment, then click send. A file of maximum 3 MB is a sign of a tidy, structured way of working – excluding high-quality scans of your degrees or professional certificates and references. If you are sending your application by post, make sure to enclose clean copies, stapled together and without dog-ears. Do you have a personal letter of recommendation? Great! If the rest of the application is absolutely watertight, success will surely soon be knocking on your door.