How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (updated 2024)

The cover letter should convince HR managers that you are the perfect person for the position and that you also fit the company as a person. And preferably without standard phrases so that you stand out from the crowd. We give you tips on how to build your application letter step by step and also free templates to download.

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How to write a cover letter

  • The cover letter tells you what position you are applying for, why you want to work for this company and why you are the perfect person for it.
  • The cover letter does not just summarize your CVIn the letter of motivation you combine the requirements from the job advertisement with your skills.
  • The cover letter is usually one A4 page long.
  • Make sure that the layout of the application disc is uniform. Font: Arial, Helvetica, Calibri or similar, font size: 10 to 12 points.
  • Depending on the industry, it is important to communicate the right skills.
  • The cover letter differs only slightly from the letter of motivation or the English cover letter or letter of motivation ; the terms are often used synonymously.

The cover letter must be absolutely error-free! So be very careful when writing a cover letter for your application and be sure to have someone proofread it before you send it off.

Cover letter: This belongs in the content

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a cover letter, a letter of motivation or a letter of application, they all have the same structure. Your cover letter should ideally be one DIN A4 page long, maximum two. And in contrast to the CV, where you have a lot of creative freedom, here there are standards for the layout and structure.

You start at the top with the sender, i.e. your address, and directly below that is the address of the company that receives your application. The place and date are right-aligned underneath.

This is followed by the subject, which is the only element in the application letter that is written in bold. Then the continuous text begins with the salutation of the contact person. In the first paragraph you should formulate a short introduction, followed by the main part of the letter of motivation. Here you describe why you are applying for exactly this advertised position at this company and why you are perfectly suited for this position.

The letter of motivation ends with a farewell paragraph in which you ask for a personal meeting or an interview. The last step is your digital or manual signature in the application letter.

Subject and salutation in the cover letter

The cover letter of an application always has a subject. It is usually formatted as bold as the only part of the text. In the past, the first word in the subject line was “subject” – this is now considered outdated. In the subject of the letter of application you only write the exact position for which you are applying, with a reference number if given, for example:

  • Application for the position of Sales Manager , ref. no. 0123-4567
  • Unsolicited application for an internship in HR/personnel development

After the subject comes the salutation. You should definitely write to a contact person here.Contact persons are already mentioned in many job offers, mostly employees from the HR department. If the job offer does not contain a name, you can inquire about the exact contact person on the company’s website or by telephone. In extreme emergencies, write “Dear Sir or Madam, …” as the salutation. But you should really avoid that!

TIP – The form of address “Sir” and “Your” is always capitalized in letters and therefore also in cover letters!

The introduction to your cover letter

In the subject line you have already indicated which position you are applying for or which job advertisement you are replying to or whether you have started an unsolicited application . So you don’t have to repeat this line again.

  • The main purpose of the introduction is to arouse interest.
  • The introduction to the cover letter should not be longer than three to four lines.

Don’t be afraid of the blank sheet. You don’t have to be super creative. But run-of-the -mill formulations such as “I hereby apply for the position of…” or “I was delighted to read your job advertisement…” should be forgotten immediately. It’s just plain boring and shows that you didn’t put much effort into it. Quotations or sayings from any poets, thinkers and intellectuals are also out of place in an application.

It is much more individual if you directly include your qualifications from your studies, professional experience or internships in the first sentence of your cover letter.Here are a few examples as a template:

  • “For the position as Display Manager, I already have initial experience in Google Analytics through an internship at XYZ.”
  • “What do you need for the job as a sales assistant ? Ambition and communication skills! It was precisely these qualities that I was able to demonstrate as the campaign manager for our study newspaper.”
  • “Problem solving and making change are traits that drive me as a design engineer and I will continue to demonstrate at XYZ.”

Or you start with a short question that fits the job and the industry. For example:

  • “Are you looking for someone with an interest in dealing with people and experience in human resources development ?”
  • “What makes good content and how do you get readers excited about a product? I will get to the bottom of these questions during my internship in the online editorial department at XYZ.”

Also, a good place to start is to refer to a previous phone conversation you’ve had with a recruiter if you’ve called before. It doesn’t get more personal than that.

TIP – If it is a formal body, e.g. B. a finance job , the cover letter should be a bit more formal. A marketing job , on the other hand, can be a little more unusual. In any case, the first sentence must be individual so that the application immediately attracts attention.

In the main part, convince with soft skills and motivation

Once you have your introduction in the box, the main part of your letter of motivation explains in detail why you are perfect for the position. As the name suggests, this is where you disclose your motivation for applying. It is important to go through the advertised job advertisement carefully. The “Requirements” or “What you will bring with you” field lists which skills are required.

Hard Skills

Take these points out and write a key point for each requirement, how you can support them with your experience and acquired qualifications. Example:

  • “Experience in dealing with CRM programs” = working student activity
  • “Fluent English” = three-month stay abroad in Canada
  • “Confident appearance and creation of presentations” = seminar project in cooperation with a company

You can then formulate these key points for the application letter: “During my three-month stay abroad in Canada, I was not only able to gain experience in another culture, but also perfect my English skills, both spoken and written, by taking part in school classes.”

If you’re not sure about this, you can read our article on language skills in job applications for the best way to indicate them.

Soft skills

In addition, so-called soft skills are still required at the end of the job advertisement . You should also go into these in bullet points and prove them with longer stays abroad (study, internship, work & travel), honorary posts, awards, hobbies, special talents and extraordinary experiences. Example:

  • “Team ability” = organization of school festivals or member of a sports club
  • “Analytical thinking ability” = university project to create a prototype
  • “Assertiveness” = tutoring younger students

You then have to formulate whole sentences from this, for example: “As a tutor at my school, I organized the summer party for the fifth graders as part of a team. Especially when working with younger students, a high level of assertiveness is required so that processes run smoothly and the previously agreed framework points are adhered to.”

TIP – HR managers dismiss a mere list of positive competencies as a standard phrase. However, if you link your soft skills to specific activities in the cover letter, the self-portrayal will appear authentic. This arouses the interest of HR managers and also creates starting points for the job interview .

The last paragraph in the cover letter

The last paragraph of the cover letter provides additional information, e.g. B. the earliest possible start date or the desired salary if this is required in the job advertisement. The salary is always given as a gross amount. You don’t really have an idea what salary to declare? Then take a look at our salary comparison to determine a realistic gross salary.

In addition, you should refer to a personal interview in the last paragraph of your letter of motivation. However, avoid subjunctive sentences like: “I would be happy to hear from you”. Such formulations seem too shy. Better:

  • “I am looking forward to an invitation to Stuttgart for an interview. I would like to convince you of my skills and my motivation for the job as a business economist in a personal conversation.”
  • “Are you convinced? Then I look forward to the opportunity for a personal meeting at your company.”
  • “If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them by phone or e-mail.”

Your signature is preceded by the obligatory “Best regards”. Below that is your full name or your digital or manual signature.

TIP – Don’t put a comma after the salutation “Best regards” but a line break.

Signature: This is how your cover letter ends

Your cover letter ends with your signature between the salutation “Best regards” and your typed name (first and last name). A signature is not absolutely necessary for an electronic application, but for an e-mail application or online application it looks more complete and professional if you scan your signature for the cover letter and insert it between the greeting and the typed name.

Avoid signing with felt-tip pens, pencils, fineliners, etc. and only use a ballpoint pen or fountain pen instead.

TIP – Signatures are only made in blue or black ink.

PS in the cover letter?

The postscript, PS for short, is used to append something to a text that, for example, does not quite match the body of the text. It’s very short;the PS is one or at most two sentences long and is hardly used nowadays.While a PS is very rarely used in a cover letter, that doesn’t mean you should never use it. Because while a cover letter may be skimmed over by HR professionals, a PS is always read. A PS finally catches the eye.

If you decide to use a PS in your cover letter, the most important thing is that you use a professional and relevant sentence. A sentence like: “PS: I don’t know how to convert my CV from Word to PDF , I hope that’s ok” is an absolute no-go.

However, especially in a creative cover letter, you could start with a PS like: “PS: Are you looking for an applicant who also shines in front of the camera? Then have a look at my YouTube channel “Example three”. add important information to your cover letter. A call-to-action such as: “PS: You can reach me in the evenings or on weekends on 0123 456 78 9” can also go down well with HR managers.

Whether or not you ultimately decide on a PS should depend on the company and the position you are applying for.For example, if you are applying for a consulting position at a traditional company, a PS is probably not appropriate. You should also make sure that your signature goes before the PS, otherwise it wouldn’t be a PS after all.

Sample formulations

While we gave you some cover letter templates and examples earlier in the article, there are certain situations where you need to customize your cover letter. That’s exactly why you’ll get special sample cover letters here again.All you have to do is copy the appropriate example and adapt it to your cover letter.Of course, you must not copy the examples 1:1. You can also combine them with the other examples and patterns as you wish.

Initiative application

Speculative applications can be very worthwhile, especially in larger companies, because there are often many positions that have not yet been advertised. A cover letter for an unsolicited application could look like this:

Unsolicited application as a recruiting manager at the Böblingen location

Dear Ms Bahlsen,

Only the convinced are convincing! Not only do we have a fascination for automobiles, but above all the guiding principle that the employees are the engine of a company. Since, according to the press release, CARMOBIL AG is expanding its Böblingen location in the coming months and new positions will be filled, I would be happy if I could successfully support you in the recruiting process with my professional and personal skills. I see your expansion as an opportunity for me to introduce myself to you for the recruiting department.

During my master’s degree, I already focused on human resources management and dealt with the “influence of digitization on the recruiting process of medium-sized companies”, in particular with the possibilities of using social media for applicant acquisition and applicant analysis. I would like to share the knowledge I gained with your company and apply it in practice.

In addition, as part of my mandatory internship at Sinclair-Jones, I gained my first experience in applicant administration – from drafting the requirements profile and entering applicants in the database to preparing and conducting interviews. Since your company also operates internationally, it goes without saying that I can also communicate fluently and confidently in English.

I hope that I can benefit from your collegial team and your expertise in the job and applicant environment and that I can help shape and carry out the application process from A to Z. In addition, I really enjoy the further development in personnel marketing and it is a personal concern of mine to support people on their career path. So it would not only be a professional, but also a personal enrichment for me to become part of the CARMOBIL family and to keep the engine running successfully.

I am at your disposal from June this year. I would be happy to convince you in a personal conversation.

Kind regards



The cover letter for an internship is particularly difficult – after all, it is often the first cover letter in your life. A cover letter for an internship could look like this:

Application for an internship in Controlling/Finance

Dear Ms Hess,

I see my professional perspective with you, the world market leader in the field of health and nutrition, and would therefore like to take the opportunity to apply for an internship in the field of finance and controlling. I would be happy to gain new experiences with you – are you ready for that too?

I am currently in the final phase of my bachelor’s degree in Finance & Accounting at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management and am writing my bachelor’s thesis on the topic “Application of capital market models in SMEs: advantages and disadvantages”. During my bachelor’s degree, I dealt extensively with number-heavy topics in the corporate environment and dealt intensively with controlling as a measure for coordinating corporate management.

As part of a semester abroad at Tongji University in Shanghai, I was able to expand and consolidate my English vocabulary in addition to establishing international contacts. Dealing with numbers and tables in any form has been in my blood since the first Math Olympiads when I was at school.

During an internship at the auditing company KPMG in Frankfurt, I intensified my Excel skills in the internal preparation and analysis of data sets and an additional course “Spreadsheets for advanced users”.

To compensate, I enjoy nature whenever I have the time, mostly on an extensive tour on my mountain bike or on a hike through the mountains. We are not only connected by our love of numbers, but also by our passion for health: Lots of exercise to feel good about our bodies and a balanced lifestyle are very important to me.

I look forward to enriching the Schwarz Group with my knowledge and skills in the areas of finance and controlling as an intern. I am at your disposal for a personal conversation at any time.

Kind regards


Career entry

Similar to the cover letter for an internship, a cover letter for your first job can be particularly tricky. You could write your cover letter like this:

Application for a traineeship in the editorial department

Dear Mrs Müller,

True to the motto: “Choose a job that you love and you won’t have to work another day in your life”, I would like to turn my vocation, my passion for writing and creating my own small works into a profession. That’s why I would like to take the next step on my career path together with you, a very experienced PR agency in the B2B business. In your company, a lot of value is placed on free creative space for your own ideas and personal development opportunities, which is decisive for me to introduce myself to you.

As part of my bachelor thesis, my largest writing project at the moment is dedicated to “Journalist success models in online media” and also deals with classic and digital forms of representation. In April of this year I will probably successfully complete my studies. Even when I was at school, I showed my skills as a word acrobat when planning and implementing the school newspaper.

I am currently gaining further experience in the editing environment as a working student by supporting Musterverlags GmbH twice a week in writing editorial texts on digital trends for the online tech department and in editing. Above all, I have developed my routine writing of texts and my self-organization in finding a topic. I was also involved in the conception and implementation of content marketing campaigns for the online magazine XY and improved my strategic skills.

I like to spend my free time traveling to distant countries and immersing myself in foreign cultures. I passionately share these fascinating experiences with the world in my small but fine travel blog XY. A traineeship in your agency gives me the opportunity to get to know the special features of PR writing and at the same time to contribute my diverse experience in the travel sector. Due to my stay abroad in Australia, writing texts in English is no problem for me.

Can you imagine accompanying me on my career start in the media world and going on joint project trips with me in the future? Then I look forward to getting to know you personally.

Kind regards


How late should I send my cover letter?

You are certainly aware that, if possible, you should not wait until the day of the application deadline to send off your application and cover letter. But the time and day of the week are also important when you send your cover letter by email. We’ll explain why now.

If you’ve been writing your cover letter all day and won’t finish it until late in the evening, it’s best to sleep on it one more night before you send it off. After all, if you’ve been sitting on your cover letter for a long time, it’s possible that you can’t see the wood for the trees and mistakes will creep in. That’s why it makes sense to proofread your cover letter one last time with a fresh look the next day and then send it off. In addition, it has a negative effect on HR staff if they receive an email at 11:50 p.m.

In addition to the time at which you send your application and cover letter, you should also pay attention to the day of the week on which you send your e-mail. E-mails sent on a Friday or during holidays can easily be lost in the flood of e-mails that recruiters receive over the weekend or holidays.

If you send your application and cover letter by post, you must also bear in mind that the post can take several days, especially on weekends or public holidays. So plan enough time before the application deadline.

TIP – Most e-mail programs now have a function that allows you to set when you send your e-mail. So simply set an optimal time there, for example on a Tuesday at 9 a.m., and plan your application in advance.

Typical cover letter problems – Gaps in the CV

Writing a cover letter is always difficult, especially when you don’t have a conventional resume. We will now show you how to best address typical difficulties in your CV in your cover letter.

Whether illness, family matters or time off; Gaps in your CV happen and are completely normal. After all, today’s working world is more flexible than ever – staying with one employer for more than five years is unusual. That is why more and more employees have a colorful CV without a common thread.

Nevertheless, it is important that you address gaps in your CV and explain them.Especially if you have shown initiative during this time and, for example, have completed further training or learned a new language, you can score points in the cover letter. Because this shows that you are independent and self-motivated.

But as with everything else in your cover letter and application, be honest and don’t just pitch a film you’ve seen in French as a language course.Ultimately, the motto is: Have the courage to leave gaps!As long as you address the gaps in your CV transparently and justify them positively, you will also be able to score points with gaps in your CV in the cover letter.

Typical cover letter problems – Lack of Work Experience

It feels like there are more and more job advertisements where professional experience is required even for junior or trainee positions. Of course, this can be a deterrent, especially if you have not yet gained any or little professional experience.

However, a lack of professional experience should not deter you from applying.Because professional experience does not only include jobs in the classic sense – experiences such as a stay abroad or a research project at the university can also qualify you for a job.A stay abroad proves that you have language skills and a research project shows that you have already dealt intensively with the topic. That’s why you should also address experiences like these in your cover letter and explain why they are relevant to your application.

But you can also make a general lack of professional experience in your cover letter, using sentences like:

“Although I only have two years of professional experience, during this time I have carried out tasks that are at the level of an intermediate role. So I not only supported the Customer Success Team, but also looked after and acquired customers independently.”

This shows that you meet the requirements for the position despite the lack of professional experience.You can also prepare internships or working student activities in your cover letter.

Ultimately, HR managers are often more concerned with team fit than professional experience. A lack of qualifications can be learned, but not the ability to work in a team. That’s why you should focus on your soft skills in your cover letter.

The 10 most common mistakes in cover letters: Bring that and you’re out

Now you have learned so much about the content and perfect structure of the cover letter that you think you can’t really do anything wrong anymore? So that you are one hundred percent fit for the cover letter, here are the most common mistakes in the cover letter. They are sorted in descending order of the severity of the error.Unsurprisingly, HR managers are most annoyed when an error appears right at the beginning:

  1. Address, contact person or company misspelled.
  2. Inappropriate language/jargon.
  3. Spelling mistake.
  4. Non-personalized application templates .
  5. Inappropriate photo .
  6. Write novels instead of getting to the point.
  7. Forgot attachment (e.g. work samples ).
  8. CV gaps you can’t explain.
  9. Inconsistent typeface.
  10. Missing signature or date.

Checklist and tips

Now that we have shown our ten most common mistakes when making cover letters, we will now give you a checklist with the most important tips for cover letters.


Try the content of your cover letter and resume adapted as closely as possible to the requirements of the position. Convince with competence, professionalism and motivation – and don’t just use a template in which you copy your name. Then nothing can really go wrong.

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