The written application: tips & tricks from professional Birgit Löding

Mrs. Löding, you advise and coach academics in the area of “applying correctly”. Who exactly comes to you, and what career prospects do graduates have today?

It’s very broad: from lawyers to social scientists, people who have just finished their studies, but also academics who want to change careers. By and large, everyone between the ages of 25 and 30. Depending on the field of study, the future career prospects naturally also differ: As a rule, doctors and prospective teachers have quite good prospects, whereas architects, geographers, social scientists and humanists have a harder time of it – they often have to make more efforts to find a suitable job. So that always depends on their own commitment and the focus of their studies. Nevertheless, it is always more promising to have studied something that interests you, even if it seems a little more difficult to get started. It is up to each individual to decide what to make of it. The important thing is how you sell yourself – academic qualifications are not everything.

Irrespective of which degree course you have chosen: The right application documents are still the most important factor when looking for a job. How do you apply correctly and what are the most common mistakes?

The right presentation is the be-all and end-all, starting with the selection of the optimal portfolio through to the correct handling of inadmissible questions at the interview. The right documents are the door opener, which is why the greatest care must be taken here. Every written application includes a cover sheet, cover letter, curriculum vitae and certificates plus a list of attachments. The cover sheet contains information such as company address, complete sender, a good photo and the respective job description. It always makes a good impression when a design runs through the entire folder. The cover letter should never be longer than one page, the shorter and more concise, the more likely it is to be read. If you are applying for a specific job advertisement, it is important to analyse it carefully and to refer almost one-to-one to individual aspects in your cover letter. There is nothing worse than sending a standard application to 50 different employers. With the curriculum vitae one should pay attention to work counterchronologically, thus with today begin and the process back track. At the beginning the professional experiences should be specified – practical courses, free coworkers etc. – then only study and school career. The certificates must be preceded by a list of annexes, again sorted by content and listed in reverse chronological order. The certificates themselves are to be sorted as it was listed in the curriculum vitae, internship certificates, university certificates, Abitur certificates. University graduates should also be able to prove other things in addition to the application phase, i.e. not be lazy, but with part-time jobs, freelance work, social commitment, language courses or the like to enhance the resume.

If you are invited to an interview on the basis of your application portfolio: What do I have to consider during a personal interview?

On the one hand, self-presentation naturally plays an important role. In terms of clothing, a style that represents the respective company is always recommended. The behaviour in stressful situations is also often decisive: in the case of inadmissible questions about religion, party affiliation or in the case of women the desire for children. These somewhat unpleasant questions are usually not asked because of the content, but because of the reaction – so always stay calm and don’t get nervous…