2024 | Reading time: 17 Minutes

How to write a cover letter

The cover letter emphasises your motivation and skills for the job you are applying for. Our tips and examples will help you with the wording.

Cover Letter

A cover letter contains details about you and your skills that cannot be found on your CV. It illustrates your motivation and your achievements. The cover letter is often the deciding factor when other applicants are similarly qualified. The cover letter is particularly important for young professionals and career changers who do not have relevant work experience.

Many job seekers wonder how to write a cover letter. Use the following standards, templates, wording, and tips to help you avoid common mistakes.

Cover letter: structure and design

The cover letter is the first document in your job application portfolio. If you bundle your application documents in a PDF file, the cover letter will be on page 1, whereas in printed applications it will be at the top.

When it comes to the structure and design of the cover letter, you can use the german national standard DIN 5008, a norm for business letters, as a guide. This includes specifications for font size, line spacing, and margins. Choose a font that is easy to read, such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman.

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You can create a professional cover letter with our application templates, which are already optimally formatted. All you need to do is customise the content.

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Your cover letter should visually match the rest of your job application, be structured, and contain the following components:

Cover letter structureCover letter structure mobile

Cover letter: content

When learning how to write a cover letter the content is the most important part. It depends on the position you are applying for as well as your professional background. Management positions require different achievements and qualifications than entry-level jobs. Write an individual cover letter for each job application - mass applications are easy to recognise and have little chance of success.

In general, a cover letter should focus on three main points:

Icon einer Glühlampe

How to address someone

It's never wrong to address someone politely and respectfully with only their last name. If the company uses the first name in the job advertisement, you can also use it in the cover letter.


Structure is important when learning how to write a cover letter. The letterhead always contains your contact details and the employer's address. First, write your details flush right. This is followed by the recipient's address, flush left. The letterhead ends with the current date, again flush right.

You can also place your personal data in a header. This saves space and ensures that recruiters can find your contact information on every page.

Max Schmidt
Hauptstraße 11
10411 Berlin
Telefon: 0176/123456789
E-Mail: firsname@lastname.de

The company GmbH
Attn: Mrs Meier
Gewerbestraße 11
30419 Hannover


Subject line

The subject line of your cover letter is used to categorise the job application. It should include the following information: reason for application (advertised or unsolicited job application), job title, reference number (if applicable), and place of work.

It should be bolded and never be longer than one line. The word "subject" (or the abbreviation "Subj.") is no longer used as a prefix.


The introduction to your cover letter must make an impression. After all, recruiters often read more than 100 job applications per position. And countless cover letters start with the meaningless words "I hereby apply". If you want to learn how to write a cover letter, you should instead choose a personal introductory sentence to make a positive impression.

Start with your strongest argument. Emphasise your motivation for this particular job and directly relate it to the company. If you have already spoken to people in charge on the phone or at trade fairs, you should mention this. This makes you look confident and that's a lot better than using a one-size-fits-all approach. Back up your statements with facts and figures.

Dear Ms Neumann,
The industry association Bitkom expects demand for cloud-based billing systems to increase by more than 20 percent in the medium term. As an IT Specialist with five years of experience in the cloud computing section, I would like to work with your company to benefit from this development.

Dear Thomas,
Your latest campaign, "Don't waste, reuse!" has shown once again: you don't just preach sustainability - you live it! As a Marketing Manager in your company, I can help to encourage even more people to question their consumer behaviour.

Dear Mrs Meier,

As a salesperson in your shop, I can make the most of my enthusiasm for cycling. I have been working with racing and mountain bikes since I was a child. I am very familiar with all the standard derailleurs, cranksets, suspension forks, brake systems, and other components.


The body of the cover letter should focus on three things:

These points can be linked flexibly in your text since they are often related. When learning how to write a cover letter it is crucial that you do not just make statements, but that you support them with concrete examples. The body text usually consists of two to three paragraphs.

"I am resilient, decisive, a good team player, and efficient": such a list is not very credible because anyone can write this about themselves. There is also no reference to a job advertisement - the sentence could be found in any job application.

Social skills (soft skills), in particular, can also be expressed indirectly. Let achievements, facts, and figures speak for you. If you led a team for a year and completed your project successfully, you probably have the ability to work in a team, strong communication skills, and organisational talent.

Together with my team of four, I was able to measurably increase the reach of our online shop. Thanks to SEO measures and improved product texts, we reached around 15 percent more customers than in the same period last year.

I have a disciplined approach to my work and good organisational skills. When my department moved to work from home during the pandemic, I was even able to increase my open inquiry resolution rate.

At my current employer, we use different sales techniques depending on the business partner. This allows us to close more deals in the same amount of time. I am convinced that these approaches can also make your sales more efficient.


The final part of the cover letter creates a transition to the job interview. Emphasise your enthusiasm for the job and the company with a positive closing sentence and avoid subjunctives. Subtle calls to action express self-confidence – without exerting any pressure.

The earliest possible starting date and, above all, the salary expectations should only be mentioned if the employer requests this in the job advertisement.

I look forward to getting to know your company and convincing you of my ideas in a personal meeting. Of course, we can also exchange thoughts over the phone in advance: you can reach me on 0123/45678 between 5 and 10 pm.

I would be delighted to convince you in person that I am the perfect addition to your team. I look forward to receiving your positive feedback.

My earliest possible starting date is 01.07.2024, my salary expectation corresponds to a gross annual salary of between 38,600 and 41,800 Euros. Please treat my job application with discretion due to my current employment relationship.

Greeting and signature

When you're learning how to write a cover letter, you're always told not to use empty phrases. However, you can deviate from this when it comes to the closing. A friendly greeting is sufficient to conclude the cover letter. When applying to young, creative companies, in particular, you can add a personal touch.

Don't forget to sign your cover letter. A scan of your original signature is recommended for digital cover letters. Ideally, use a fountain pen and blue ink, never use felt-tip pens or pencils. Alternatively, you can also use our CV editor to create a convincing signature.

Best regards

Alexandra Müller

Kind regards to the beautiful Spree

Martin Becker

Attachment note

The attachment note (or list of attachments) of your cover letter is where you list the attachments you have included in your job application. It is placed below the signature and represents the last section of your cover letter. List here which documents are included in the job application portfolio. Make sure you never merely note "attachments" without further specification.

- CV
- Certificates
- Work samples

For online job applications by email or on online application portals, where all documents are uploaded separately, an attachment note is often superfluous.

4 typical mistakes in cover letters

HR managers read countless job applications every day and want to make decisions quickly. Frequent mistakes in cover letters indicate a lack of care. When learning how to write your cover letter you should focus on avoiding these common mistakes:

4 cover letter tips

There are several tips and techniques that will help you learn how to write a cover letter. Even small improvements can bring you closer to the job of your dreams.

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