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Job application is a formal affair in Germany. Find out which documents to include, how to draft up a German CV and much more.

How to apply for a job in Hamburg

Job application is a formal affair in Germany and usually follows a set course. Below, we've set out a step-by-step guide explaining what is expected of you as a job applicant. If not otherwise specified, your job application should include:

  • Curriculum vitae (German: Lebenslauf)
  • Cover letter (German: Motivationsschreiben or Anschreiben)
  • References/Testimonials (German: Arbeitszeugnisse)
  • Copies of diplomas: high school, college, certificates
  • Relevant attachments such as your portfolio

Curriculum Vitae

The German CV or 'Lebenslauf' is a no-frill document in tabular form that follows a clear structure. It includes a professional photo, your marital status, contact details including an address as well as date and place of birth. Information concerning your professional experience, education and other skills should be arranged in two columns: On the left side you enter the exact dates; on the right you enter institution names, job titles and responsibilities.

Cover Letter

The cover letter is meant to convey your interest in a specific position. It's also here that you explain how your experiences and knowledge are relevant to this particular job. It's a thin line between self-confidence and hubris: keep in mind that modesty is generally preferred. Exaggerations and incomplete information will be uncovered as German HR people are generally very thorough.

References/Testimonials

Unique to the German-speaking world are the testimonials or 'Arbeitszeugnisse'. In Germany, it's standard to receive official testimonials from your employer after every job, traineeship and internship. If you happen to have German testimonials, include them in your job application. If you don't, because it's not the custom in your country, explain this in your cover letter and perhaps suggest that references can be provided upon request.

Also unique to the German labour market is an intricate system of attestation grading your performance in a role. Hidden behind positive expressions grades range from simple wording (worst) to superlatives (best).

Diplomas

Many German employers will expect to see copies of all the certificates you've gained over the years not just your college or university degrees. If you haven’t seen your high school diploma for awhile, now is the time to dig it up.

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