Boehringer Ingelheim
17 August 2016
Jana von Puttkamer

“Generate enthusiasm!”

“I’m absolutely certain that this job is just the one for me. And I applied for it – but I got turned down right away. I just don’t understand why I keep getting rejection letters. What am I doing wrong?”


I often meet people who are absolutely sure that they are the perfect fit for a job advertisement and would be a real asset to the company. But then they’re disappointed when they don’t get the job they want – or never even get invited to a job interview.

Section title

How you greatly improve your chances of landing a job interview

When I review their applications, it’s usually quite apparent what the reason might be: There is simply a divergence between the specific job description and requirements, and the language the applicants use in their cover letter. It’s essential to truly respond to the job posting, both in what you say and in how you say it.


The job posting holds the clues: “What do they really want from me?”


First of all, you need to learn what the company expects of YOU. The most important information about this is actually easy to find: It’s right there in the job description! My tip: Take this information seriously. Address it in the approach and content of your application – because the job posting specifically says “what they really want.”


It spells out what your responsibilities will be in your new position, as well as the qualifications, attitudes and conduct expected of you. And then you need to thoughtfully consider whether and to what extent you can meet these expectations. This requires critical self-examination.


What sets you apart as an individual?


Which of your personal qualities and skills does this job advertisement particularly call for? That is, how can you make yourself stand out from all the other applicants? My tip: Ask your friends and close acquaintances, or even family members, what they appreciate most about you. All these people know you very well. They might name qualities that you take for granted and would not regard as particularly worth mentioning. But these may be exactly what this specific advertisement is asking for, and they constitute your strengths.


Another way to identify your own personal strengths and passions is to turn to the Internet, where personality tests abound. Some of these can be quite helpful in suggesting ways to describe yourself that aren’t like all the formulaic applications.


Please, no clichés


Once you have a clear idea of your personal strengths and how you can describe them in terms of the advertised position, you can start to write your application.


The first sentence is often the hardest, and many applicants don’t know how to formulate it. They fall back on platitudes, such as “Boehringer Ingelheim is an innovative, diverse and renowned company where I would be happy to embark on my career,” or “I would be pleased to put my theoretical and practical experience to good use in your innovative and thriving company,” or “It would be a pleasure to contribute my knowledge and skills to support Boehringer Ingelheim on its successful course.” But these are all clichés that could be applied to any number of other companies. They don’t in any way point out the very specific nature of a particular company, or even say anything about the industry or the importance of the company within that industry.


The perfect match


But what does it mean for your cover letter to “match” the job description? At this point you’re no doubt wondering, “What else am I supposed to write?” I’ll try to explain by giving you an example. In order to do this, I have to ask you to change your point of view. Picture yourself not as an applicant, but as a manager or supervisor looking for someone to join your team. Let’s say that you want to hire someone for quality control in biopharmaceutical production at Boehringer Ingelheim.


Every application that you actually read to the end does more than simply recount and embellish the individual’s career. The ones that trigger your interest refer to the challenges that you and your team must meet. If you have the feeling that someone has thought seriously about what your department does every day, and can even identify with the tasks, you will want to meet that person.


No boilerplate


In this case, for example, you particularly notice an application in which the candidate has elaborated a bit, writing that currently only a third of known diseases can be adequately treated worldwide. Therefore, she would specifically like to work at a research pharmaceutical company such as Boehringer Ingelheim. She also makes a connection between the biopharmaceuticals that are solidly on the growth track at Boehringer Ingelheim and how these medicines open up new prospects for many patients, and then she mentions quality control, an area in which she has specialized.


You are impressed. This sounds good. It’s not a boilerplate application, where only the name of the company has been changed. This applicant has investigated Boehringer Ingelheim in some detail and is explicitly responding to particular aspects of the company.


The next hurdle for the candidate is to show that she also has the “soft skills” stated in the job description.


Make your personal soft skills come alive – as they relate to the job opening


When it comes to soft skills, it’s not enough to simply list personal attributes and assert that you have them; you have to back up the claim with examples. Furthermore, you should focus on the soft skills that are most relevant for the specific position advertised.


Let’s say that a job description states that you would be responsible for “designing and implementing target-group-specific training on occupational safety.” This involves two skills: Designing/teaching a course, and knowing about occupational safety.


In terms of soft skills, you should first consider what it takes to design and hold training sessions. With regard to course design, you might then list past activities that emphasize your strategic approach and planning skills. On the other hand, to indicate that you would be good at conducting training sessions, you could note that you have often received very positive feedback about your teaching ability and that you enjoy motivating other people with your presentations. Your knowledge of occupational safety would then be listed on a separate page.


Don’t just “copy and paste” – stay authentic


The point isn’t for you to copy these sentences and use them as they are. What matters is that the application reflects your personality, who you are as an individual. Find your own examples that demonstrate how you meet the requirements and expectations of the job. There aren’t any one-size-fits-all clichés that are appropriate for every job description, or even for every person.


Your goal is to use words to draw a connection between the formulated expectations and your highly individual profile. Granted, it takes a lot of work to write a really tailored job application. But the effort is definitely worth it, and you can be sure that this will set you apart from less succinct applications.


In short: Generate enthusiasm! I wish you all the best in applying for your dream job. If you have more questions, feel free to send me a quick note. Simply use the comment function, and I’ll be happy to respond.

"Your goal is to use words to draw a connection between the formulated expectations and your highly individual profile. "
Jana von Puttkamer

3 comment(s) for '“Generate enthusiasm!”'


I will keep for me "use words to draw a connection between the formulated expectations and your highly individual profile" avoiding Clichés. Thank you

Thank you for your point of view and advice on the dream job application. I will try to do my best on the next application for Medical scientific Liaison. Best regards

Dear Jana, both applications and HR replies should not sound like robot-written emails. regards. Paolo.

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