Finally a new job to either get out of unemployment or leave an unpleasant job and start your own dream job instead. Wishes that many job seekers share. Unfortunately, a lot of time usually passes before the time comes – not to mention the nerves it can cost. Successful application is an art in itself. To make sure it works out and you can soon look forward to a signed employment contract, we have numerous tips and tricks for you with which you can successfully apply and increase your chances of finding a job…

Apply successfully: Application documents as A and O

Whether or not you successfully apply depends on your application documents. Here you present yourself to the personnel officer, provide all the necessary information about yourself personally, your career and your qualifications and thus try to leave the best possible impression. The decision maker is convinced that you are the best choice for an open position.

In order for your application to be successful, two documents are in the foreground: the cover letter and the curriculum vitae.

The main purpose of the cover letter is to illustrate your own motivation, strengths, qualifications and previous successes and to make it clear what added value you can offer the company. There are also some aspects of the content that are mandatory if you want to apply successfully.

Checklist: What to include in the cover letter (from top to bottom):

  • Sender’s address (name, address, telephone number (also mobile), e-mail address)
  • Date (is on the right; date of completion)
  • Recipient address (company, first and last name of the addressee, address)
  • No application photo (belongs in the curriculum vitae!)
  • Subject (For unsolicited applications “Application” is sufficient, otherwise the concrete reference to the job advertisement is mandatory: “Application as …, your job advertisement of 24 July 2015 in the local newspaper XY”)
  • Salutation (Always personal, never: “Dear Ladies and Gentlemen” – research contact person!)
  • Introduction & introductory sentence
  • Brief description of the profile (strengths and soft skills – with example)
  • Relation to the company
  • Possible reference to other knowledge (e.g. foreign languages)
  • Possible reference to references (contact person from previous jobs)
  • Possible indication of periods of notice and possible starting date
  • If required: Salary expectations (range is better than exact amount)
  • Final sentence & greeting formula
  • Signature (follows directly after the greeting at the end of the letter)
  • Attachments (curriculum vitae, references, certificates)

It is also essential for a successful application that it is always individually tailored to the respective employer. If you only write one cover letter and send it to different companies, every HR manager will immediately recognise that you have not even bothered to prepare an application for exactly this position – and that you are applying so successfully is out of the question.

But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time and of course there will be similarities and similarities in the individual letters. At the end of the day, it’s all about the details and the relationship to the respective employer to write successful applications. The following graphic shows what the cover letter looks like.

The curriculum vitae, on the other hand, has a different motto: it should be clearly structured and present all the applicant’s information. HR managers want to get a first, but nevertheless comprehensive picture of the candidate in the shortest possible time and at a glance – without having to search big or read a lot of text.

The American curriculum vitae, in which the last and most current position is named at the top and the listing then goes further into the past, has prevailed. You should be careful when there are gaps in your CV. These can give the impression that you would like to hide something or have forgotten yourself. Both are not plus points if you want to apply successfully.

The following graphic shows what a typical CV can look like and how you can orientate yourself – you will also find many free samples and templates in our large CV dossier.

If you want to apply successfully, you probably have many more questions – and we will be happy to help you so that you can start the application process with the best possible chances. The answers can be found in detail in the respective article on the subject (a large list of all application guides can be found at the end of the article) or in our FAQ on the application letter.

You can download this free of charge as a PDF file to save the application tips. Just click on the link or on the picture. If you have further questions, you can also ask them in our advisor community, where both experts and other users can answer.

Successfully apply with the right tips

Optimizing your own documents should always be the first step if you want to apply successfully. A lot of potential remains untapped with many applicants, which is why the energy and time you put into your CV and cover letter is worth it and pays off in any case.

However, in addition to the classic optimisation options, there are many other tips that can help you to apply successfully. We have put together the best and most important of these tips to give you a selection and inspiration on which adjustments you can still turn in order to be successful in your job search as quickly as possible.

Keep up with the times

One mistake that is unfortunately made again and again is to rely too much on previous experience. In other words: If you have already successfully applied, you will again proceed according to the same strategy. After all, it has already worked once. However, applications are not static, but continue to develop – and the fact that what was normal ten or five years ago may no longer be a standard.

For example, the classic application in paper form has been almost completely replaced by e-mail applications, the American CV has prevailed and is usually expected, some information falls out of the documents, others are voluntary. You can only apply successfully if you keep up with the times and are aware of these trends, developments, prerequisites and expectations.

Try to stand out from the crowd

Especially with popular employers or standardized applications through forms, there is a great danger of simply drowning in the masses and being just one of many applicants who end up being rejected. To prevent this from happening, the right professional experience and qualifications will of course help, but the wording and design of your application also plays a major role.