How to make a strong application

How to make a strong application – Part 1: What suits me?

In our series “How to make a strong application”, you will find lots of information about applying for jobs and selecting the right job. Topics range from the question of “What do I really want do?”, to qualities of the perfect job application photograph and aspects of job interviews.


Before you choose a profession, ask yourself some questions.  For example, “What am I good at?”, “What am I not so good at?”, “What interests me?” or perhaps even“Which industry do I want to work in?”. You should also ask yourself these same questions before applying. This process is a good preparation for writing a cover letter or preparing for a job interview, and also helps you in general to choose the job advertisements and companies that are right for you.

What am I good at – and not so good at?

To answer these questions you should take a close look at your strengths and weaknesses as well as your skills and expertise. It is also good to ask your friends, family or colleagues because there can sometimes be quite a difference between self-assessment and assessment from an outsider. For those who don’t feel comfortable about asking acquaintances, there are a number of free assessment tools available on internet that can also give you a skill profile, and, for example Delveo, where you can also get suggestions for your further professional development.

Bottom line: be open minded

To make sure that you end up doing what you do best, go out with an open mind and inform yourself about many different professions and career paths. You can do this free-of-charge at the Federal Employment Agency.  If you want to be more certain that the profession you have selected is the right one for you, internships and trail working days can be very helpful. This gives you a chance to test out your dream job or dream profession before reaching a final decision.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating”

Have you discovered after a trial work period that the job is not right for you, but it is still your dream profession? No problem. Many things can be worked on. For example, if you want to be a programmer but cannot use any programming languages, you can close this gap with a further education programme. It gets a bit trickier if you want to be a social worker, for example, but you have difficulty dealing with people. This does not mean that you cannot still become a good social worker – you just have to work on yourself first.

Have you found what is right for you and are now ready to go out and convince others? As a rule: make yourself as attractive as possible for the job market. This does not require tip-top grades from school. Volunteer work in your free time, involvement in a sports club or local animal rescue shelter and language skills are also important and should be part of your application.

What company is the right one for you?

Now you know what you want to do, but the question of “where” remains. Not everyone is suited to work for a large corporation, in the same way that not everyone is suited to work at a family business or a start-up. The decision mostly depends on several factors: is it about getting started in a profession that requires an apprenticeship or about a job? How long do you want to be committed to the company? And of course: What kind of person are you? What employer qualities are important to you? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you want to achieve at this company?

Lots of work, lots of room for creativity: the start-up

At start-up companies, one usually works very independently, and often with irregular working hours and lower pay. Key here is team spirit and entrepreneurship. It is about building something and feeling the passion and energy of being part of that process. Do you feel under challenged in your old profession? Do you have the sense that you cannot change anything and are desperately looking for opportunities to get fully involved? A start-up company might be just the place for you.

Broad training, down-to-earth atmosphere: the medium-sized company

For vocational training or entry-level jobs, a medium-sized company can be the right place. Usually all the employees know each other and in addition to your tasks you also learn about other processes in the company and gain a good understanding of the entire profession. In a short period of time you have your own areas of responsibility and can make yourself indispensable – a great foundation for your career.

Higher, faster, further: the international corporation

Are you looking to be in an international environment where English is the language of business? Working in a large corporation could fit the bill. Here, for example, you have the opportunity to work for well-known brands and to represent them on overseas business trips. Often, especially at the beginning, you have a clearly defined task area and many recurring routine tasks. In order to assert oneself, it is important to have diplomatic skills, good networking skills and a lot of self-confidence.

Many opportunities – go for it!

There is of course no standard recipe for the right employer. It is important for you to figure out what you want to do and where you fit in. Then you can look for matching job postings and apply to the companies.

And don’t worry: decisions can be reversed. Just because you start at a medium-sized company does not mean that you will never work for a large corporation, and vice versa.

3 tips from a professional:

Nicole Lindlar, recruiter

  1. The best offer is often not the first one or the last one, rather one that is somewhere in between.
  2. Do not let rejections get you down. 😉
  3. Always be authentic, do not pretend to be what you are not (in the end, no one can hold that out for very long).


In the next part of the series you may find out what’s important for the perfect application photo.

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