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Application trends 2020: how do I apply correctly?

When it comes to getting the dream job, there is no way to overlook any opportunity to be convincing at every stage of the application process. In this article, we will show you application trends for 2020 and explain what you need to consider when it comes to creating professional application documents and what HR managers attach particular importance to.

Application trends 2020

There are always trends and news in the application world, including in 2020. Candidates should be informed about these innovations in order to apply correctly and to increase their chances of getting the job. Together with our cooperation partner we have summarized the top 5 application trends from this year:

1. Personal branding

If you are lucky enough to have certain qualifications that are in great demand in times of Corona, you have an advantage when looking for a job. Instead of having to actively apply, you have to "simply" be found. But what is important for this: Be visibly active, on online channels and in analog professional networks.

You can be sure that this year many recruiters will (also) rely on active sourcing, i.e. direct contact with suitable specialists. The more visible and convincing you are as a specialist, the greater the chance that your new job will find you and not the other way around. How do you establish yourself as a personal brand? You can find out here.

2. Social media

The professional networks mentioned above certainly play the most important role when it comes to being found by potential employers. But also social media channels like Twitter or Facebook are increasingly being scoured by the recruiters.

Innovative talent search engines are available for this purpose, which can find suitable candidates in social networks. Here, too, it is important to create a convincing profile that contains the most important keywords for your skills, qualifications and experience.

3. Mobile recruiting

The classic online application is on the decline and mobile recruiting is now playing an important role. Nowadays, employees and employers can find each other on certain channels, including smartphones.

Whenever you are looking for a new job or in the coming months, pull out your phone and download the appropriate apps or visit the company's mobile careers pages. Here you can find job advertisements or opportunities for an unsolicited application that are not accessible in traditional ways.

Some companies have even developed special apps that you can use to apply directly. Others have so far only used mobile recruiting for initial contact, after which you still have to send a classic application. What you will have to prove as an applicant in 2020 is flexibility and technical know-how.

4. Soft skills

Today's working world is characterized by ongoing change. Job profiles are changing and knowledge that was urgently needed five years ago has lost its importance or, as things stand today, are no longer decisive for a qualification in a certain area. For this reason, recruiters need to rely on more than the applicant's expertise.

As a candidate, this means for you that you need certain characteristics and soft skills in order to be able to convince HR managers of you. Characteristics such as adaptability, innovative strength or curiosity for emerging topics are becoming more and more important. Therefore, try to highlight these competencies and other strengths in your application and, if possible, give examples that underline them.

5. Video advertising

Due to social distancing in times of Corona, another trend is towards video advertising. Job seekers are often encouraged to make a convincing short film of themselves and submit it to the company.

Why all this? The aim is to get to know the candidate as best as possible without seeing him or her in person - application videos are perfect for this. You can find out how to create the perfect video here.

This is how you create a professional application portfolio

When a position is advertised, companies usually receive numerous applications. Due to the high number of interested parties, HR managers often do not have time to carefully examine each individual application. For this reason, a first, rough selection usually takes place at the beginning. It is important to attract attention already in this phase.

You can find a guide to the perfect application portfolio here. In advance: It is up to you whether you convert all documents into a uniform PDF or whether you combine the cover sheet, cover letter and CV into one document and then send the attachment either in a PDF or separately.

1. The cover sheet

A cover sheet is not absolutely necessary, but it helps to make your application portfolio look more professional and orderly. When the recruiter opens your documents, the cover sheet is the first thing he sees. For this reason, it should also be designed in an appealing way.

2. The cover letter

The application letter is the perfect opportunity to communicate a convincing and individual presentation of your own qualifications and skills. This is about putting into words why you are exactly the right person for the position and why the HR manager should get to know you. We explain here how to write your application correctly:

It works with these tips:

  • For your cover letter, try to find out who the recipient of your application is in order to cite them.
  • In the body of the text, it is important that you justify why you are the right person for the position and that you substantiate your arguments with previous professional experience and skills.
  • Avoid too much information that is not relevant for the recruiter and do not use familiar clichés and phrases.
  • Use a maximum of one A4 page for the cover letter.
  • Add a scanned or digital signature after the greeting.
  • Avoid spelling mistakes: They are an absolute no-go and usually an exclusion criterion for HR managers.
  • Do not send out standard cover letters to multiple companies.

3. The curriculum vitae

The curriculum vitae is sometimes the most important document in your application, because the HR manager can tell what knowledge you have, how much work experience you have already gained and what your skills are. Trained HR managers can quickly see whether you are qualified for the position based on your résumé.

It works with these tips:

  • Keep your resume neat and tidy so that HR can find your way around while reading it.
  • Always stick to the truth in the individual stations and in the abilities you have mentioned.
  • Always state the duration of your employment.
  • Choose a suitable font that is easy to read and choose a maximum of two different fonts.
  • Use a suitable photo of yourself.
  • Avoid spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Make sure that your contact details are correct.

4. The appendix

The appendix contains relevant documents that prove that you have acquired certain qualifications and skills. This includes training certificates and job references. Pay attention to a chronological order when you send the documents together in a PDF. If this is not the case, name your document accordingly so that the HR staff does not have to waste time looking for the individual documents.

Your checklist

cover sheet

  • sender (with name, address, e-mail, telephone number)
  • intended position
  • photo (optional)
  • List of the contents of the application portfolio

Cover letter

  • sender (with name, address, e-mail, telephone number)
  • date (optional with location)
  • receiver (including company name, title and name of the contact person and address)
  • Subject (be sure to state the title of the advertisement)
  • Salutation (including title and name of the contact person)
  • Creative introductionthat arouses the recruiter's interest
  • Clarify question, why you want to apply to this company
  • Brief presentation of your own profile (possibly with additions to the curriculum vitae)
  • Reference to relevant skills, work experience and recommendations
  • graduation (Including notice that you are looking forward to a conversation / feedback)
  • Greeting and signature

curriculum vitae

  • personal data (Name, birthday, address)
  • Application photo (not mandatory, but recommended)
  • citizenship
  • Professional career (starting with the current position)
  • Education and training
  • special qualifications (Certificates, languages, training)
  • Interests (Hobbies, involvement in clubs and co.)
  • Date and signature


  • Completeness and Chronological order of Testimonies
  • Professional form of the documents (proper scans)
  • Summary to a PDF or naming of the individual documents

Recruiters pay attention to this when applying

How much time does a recruiter take for my application? Which is more important: a complete résumé or a striking design? Questions that every applicant has dealt with more than once. The Recruiting Trends study by the Staufenbiel Institute and Kienbaum provides the answers.[1]

This is how you collect plus points

Applicants do not have much time to make a first impression. Around 40 percent of recruiters invest a maximum of five minutes for the first applicant check. Clarity and structure are the key to attracting attention. A uniform structure is probably one of the reasons why the trend of online applications is continuing: Over half of HR professionals prefer to apply using online forms or career websites. Almost a fifth now accept one-click applications, and the trend is rising.

For 99 percent of recruiters, the résumé is the alpha and omega of an application. It is important to recognize as quickly as possible whether an applicant is technically suitable for the position. It is essential to include in the résumé: training, professional experience and - very important - other qualifications that make you indispensable for the advertised position. 87 percent attach great importance to a clear overview and the structure of an application. So design the core part of your application according to the principle: compact and clear. Certificates and the cover letter are very important for a good two thirds.

If you want to score points with your application, you should make sure that the documents are free of errors. A fancy design or work samples cannot eradicate incorrect spelling.


Better to avoid that

The most common mistake when making an application: incorrect spelling. For 60 percent of HR managers, an incorrect application goes straight to the trash.

HR managers can see at a glance where there are gaps in the résumé. For almost half of the recruiters, an unfounded gap is even a knock-out criterion. So explain what you did during your time off. You should also have a suitable answer ready before a possible interview. Tips on how to best deal with the gap in your CV can be found here.

The study also shows how important the individual note of the cover letter is. A standard letter means the end for 42 percent of HR managers. If the wrong contact person or company is named, 54 percent of the recruiters even cause a rejection to be sent.

Applicant check on the net

The “profile check” in social media is nothing new for HR managers and applicants. So that the digital cat-and-mouse game does not end badly for the latter, the profiles should be maintained accordingly. The first point of contact for recruiters is Google. 6 percent state that they “google” every applicant at least once. 3 percent use Facebook for information. More than a tenth of these checks will result in a rejection.