Job application in German: Useful words and phrases
Imagine that you have just arrived in Vienna. You fall in love with Schnitzel, the Prater and typical Viennese cafés. Your command of German is already pretty good and your German lessons help you in intensifying your knowledge. There is just one problem: the emptiness of your pocket. So, you are thinking of applying for a job in Vienna. We from INNES are happy to provide you with some words and phrases that will increase your chances of success!
How to apply
First of all, you need to find an employment ad. You can easily find these on websites like Unijobs.at or talto.com. Those offer a wide variety of all kinds of jobs, many of which are most suitable for a student lifestyle. Another great way to find an employment is to use LinkedIn. If you have an active profile there, you can connect with thousands of people and many possible employers. In some ways, it’s way more sophisticated than other job platforms as it is both a platform and a social network, that spreads over more than 200 countries and it has become quite common for Austrian companies and entrepreneurs to have a LinkedIn profile of their own. If you invest some time in updating your profile on a regular basis, there is a good chance, that you will be found by your future employer instead of having to look for him. If you are looking for some further ideas on how to get the most out of LinkedIn, be sure to check out these tips.
If you have a certain company in mind, don’t forget to check their own website. In case they haven’t got any job vacancies at the moment, you can send them an “Initiativbewerbung” (unsolicited application). They will tell you that they have received your application and keep it in mind in case a suitable position comes up. Of course, you don’t want to wait for so long, which means that you keep looking and – eventually – the perfect ad pops up.
Employment ads in German are very similar to those in other languages. A short pitch on the company, a description of what you have to bring with you (experience, education…) and what they offer (salary and such). You can find a list of useful vocabulary at the bottom of this text, be sure to check it out! There are two main documents an employer wants to receive when you apply for a job: a “Lebenslauf” (Curriculum vitae) and a “Bewerbungsschreiben” (letter of application). We will have a look at both of them shortly. Some might also want to see an “Arbeitszeugnis” (employer’s reference) or even a “Leumundszeugnis” (character reference), although this is quite unlikely. They usually trust you to have – as it is called in English – good character, which would be an “einwandfreier Leumund.” Now that we have established that, let’s have a look at the two must-haves when you apply for any job in Vienna.
Just one more hint, before we start: If you still feel a little insecure after this article about how to apply, you might want to consider taking part in one of our INNES Classes. A professional German teacher will help you in improving your language skills and creating a convincing C.V. During the classes, there will even be a training for job interviews in German. You need more information? Let us know!
Curriculum Vitae – Lebenslauf
As in English, the C.V. is supposed to be short and more of a list of biographical facts rather than full sentences. Start with your name, birthdate and -place, contact information and address at the top of the page and list your education. Nowadays it is expected to list your education chronologically, starting from your highest education and going down all the way to secondary school. If you are proud of your marks, you can add them in brackets. Your work experience is the next thing you should mention and also any occasional advanced training on the job.
Depending on the job you are applying for, you should also add the languages you speak, useful skills (like driving license, computer skills) and even some hobbies. When you give information on your command of any language, it will be way more convincing to add a certificate of a language course you completed. For example, if you have already completed one of our German Courses, you will have a certificate of your command of the German language. Since INNES is an institute that is widely known within companies situated in Vienna, you will most certainly have an advantage when applying. Concerning hobbies, it would be most advisable to name things like sports, reading or playing an instrument. We really recommend not to add hobbies such as smoking and getting wasted on weekdays. One last thing about the C.V.: Add a professional picture of yours. Imagine the employer’s part: He’s receiving dozens of applications a day and he will remember you better, when you add a picture. There you go, it’s as simple as that. Now let’s move on to the hard part.
Letter of application – Bewerbungsschreiben
Let’s face it: Writing a letter in a foreign language is one of the most difficult challenges you will have to accomplish. Even worse: In a letter of application, you have to write a well-structured and convincing text about yourself to your future boss. Don’t get nervous now. We from INNES are happy to help you with preparing for any job application. Have you checked out our flexible German LIVE Online Courses? If you book an online class, you can give detailed information on what exactly you want to practice (your writing skills for example) as well as where you are standing in terms of your command of German. Just choose time and date according to your schedule and you can start improving your German while sitting on your couch! But for now, let us give you a few hints that will certainly help you.
In general, every application should be written accordingly to your work experience and the company you are trying to convince of your strengths. It doesn’t matter if you apply for a waiter’s job at a pizza restaurant or an open position at your university, the basics always remain the same. Without further ado, let’s begin. We will guide you through the whole letter now, from beginning to ending!
First things first: You need a title. Nothing fancy, simply write:
Bewerbung auf Ihre Anzeige „… “– Application for your job ad „… “ OR
Bewerbung als “…” – Application as “…”
Now it’s time for a salutation. If you have been learning German for a longer time, you are already familiar with various forms of address. Here is a reminder, which is valid for all forms of letters. There are formal and informal styles.
Lieber Hans/ Liebe Julia, – Dear Hans/ Dear Julia, (mind the gender!)
Sehr geehrter Herr/ Sehr geehrte Frau, – Dear Mr./ Dear Mrs./Ms.,
While you will notice no difference in English, German is once again a little more complicated. It is of crucial importance, that you use the formal style when applying for a job. If you do not know the name of the recipient (which you should) there is no equivalent to the English form “To whom it may concern”, you simply write:
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, – Dear ladies and gentlemen,
In the first abstract you should refer to the source of your information. How do you know about the open position? There is one important rule here, that – if you keep it in mind – will separate you from the vast majority of applicants: After the salutation, the next letter needs to be lower case. Why? Because you already started the sentence with the salutation. Here is how it looks like:
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
ich habe Ihre Anzeige auf der Website unijobs gelesen. – I have read your ad on the website unijobs.
Also, even if it’s obvious, you need to mention, that you are applying for the open position you mentioned in the title. Use simple sentences such as these:
Ich möchte mich um die ausgeschriebene Stelle bewerben. – I wish to apply for the advertised post.
Mit diesem Schreiben möchte ich mich bei Ihnen (für die Stelle ….) bewerben. – With this letter, I wish to apply (for the position of …).
If you cannot refer to an ad, it’s no problem at all.
Ich schreibe Ihnen, um mich zu erkundigen, ob es in Ihrem Unternehmen eine freie Stelle gibt. – I am writing to you to inquire if there is a vacancy in your company.
Ich möchte mich auf diesem Wege bei Ihrer Firma vorstellen. – I wish to introduce myself to your company.
Are you feeling self-confident? Then show it to your future boss and conclude your introduction with one of the following phrases:
Erlauben Sie mir, mich vorzustellen. – Allow me to introduce myself.
In den nächsten Absätzen werde ich Ihnen zeigen, warum ich der ideale Kandidat für die Position bin. – In the following paragraphs, I will show you, why I am the perfect candidate for the position.
You have caught your future employer’s attention – now what?
The next step on your way to your employment is to outline your personal assets. Remember, that the hard facts are already in the CV, so give some new information or elaborate on your experience or education. The difficult part is to write full sentences, that are somehow eloquent. You could talk about what you focused on in your studies or what exactly your area of responsibility was at your last job. Maybe even mention why you are no longer working at your last company. This text is highly individual, but you could drop some phrases like these:
Wie Sie in meinem angehängten Lebenslauf sehen können… – As you can see from the enclosed CV…
Da ich meine Kenntnisse erweitern möchte, suche ich nach Veränderung. – Since I wish to extend my knowledge, I am seeking a change.
In meinem Studium habe ich mich besonders mit … auseinandergesetzt. – During my studies I have focused on …
An meinem letzten Arbeitsplatz lernte ich … – At my last workplace I learned to …
The advantage of a letter of application in comparison to the C.V. is that you can write about your soft skills. Name some qualities of which you think you’ll need them at your new job. Here are some easy examples:
stressresistent – stress-resistant
kommunikativ – communicative
lösungsorientiert – solution-oriented
teamfähig – a team-player
selbstständig – independent (as in “working independently”)
Even though you might find it in some tutorials for job applications, we kindly warn you not to name skills, that can be seen as taken for granted. Being “pünktlich” (punctual) is expected and not something that makes you special. The same goes for words like motivated, interested, honest or trustworthy. All these skills go without saying.
Do not forget to do some flattery. Make them believe that you have chosen this company as carefully as this company should choose you. Name a few qualities the company is known for (even if it isn’t, make something up) or what you liked about the ad. Obviously you will not comment on the salary, but perhaps they offer a daycare, or you know someone, who is already working there. Maybe you even made an internship. It’s good to show them that you have put some thought in your application. Use phrases like these:
Ihre Weiterbildungsprogramme haben mich beeindruckt. – Your program for advanced training on the job really impressed me.
Ihre Firma ist bekannt für attraktive Arbeitszeiten. – Your company is well known for attractive working hours.
Natürlich möchte ich die Chance nutzen, beim Marktführer zu arbeiten. – It goes without saying that I want to work for the brand leader.
Wrapping it up
The main part shouldn’t be longer than two or three paragraphs, after all, you want your boss to read it himself. As it is with all letters, you cannot just stop writing when you have said everything that seems to be of importance. Use some phrases to let him or her know you are available and waiting for his/ her response.
Ich bin jederzeit verfügbar für ein Gespräch. – I am always available for an interview.
Ich freue mich, Sie persönlich kennen zu lernen. – I am looking forward to meet you in person.
Ich freue mich, von Ihnen zu hören. – I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Wenn Sie noch weitere Fragen haben, zögern Sie nicht, mich zu kontaktieren. – If you have any more questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
Important: Do not forget that this is still a letter. So, you need to use a way of ending your letter properly. As with the beginning, we have an informal and a formal way.
Liebe Grüße – Greetings, OR even worse
Bussi – kisses
Mit freundlichen Grüßen – Yours sincerely,
Mit besten Wünschen – With kindest regards
That would be all. Remember to stay polite, highlight your individual skills and why you are a suitable candidate for a certain position. If you are afraid that your command of the German language is not as high as that of a native German speaker, do not worry. Use it to dwell on your international experience and your immense language skills. With these phrases you are safe to impress your future employer. Remember that you can always work on your skills, for example for an authentic performance during a job interview in German, when you book one of our German Language Courses. That way, you will feel way more secure during your pursuit of your career. Now it is up to you to find your dream job and apply. Be courageous! We wish you good luck!
List of useful vocabulary
Anforderung, die – requirement
Arbeitserfahrung, die – work experience
Arbeitsplatz, der – work place
Arbeitszeugnis, das – employer’s reference
Ausbildung, die – education
Bewerbung, die – Application
Bewerbungsgespräch, das – job interview
Computerkenntnisse/ EDV-Kenntnisse, die (always plural) – computer literacy
Flexible Arbeitszeit, die – flexible working hours
Führerschein, der – driving licence
Gehalt, das – salary
Lebenslauf, der – Curriculum Vitae (C.V.)
Leumundszeugnis, das – character reference
Motivationsschreiben, das – Letter of application
Praktikum, das – internship
Selbstständig/ freiberuflich – freelance
Stelle, die – position
Teilzeit (usally without article) – part time
Weiterbildung, die – advanced training
Weiterbildungsprogramm, das – program for advanced training