An application is a written document with which you can introduce yourself to a company and apply for a job. As a rule, the application consists of a cover letter, a CV, an application photo and attachments.

Typical application formats

It is best to choose a format for your application that matches the company's specifications. The most common formats are:

Online application
The online application is a special form of application that is sent by an applicant to a future employee via the Internet. Online applications can be used for both unsolicited applications and to apply for an advertised job.

E-mail application
The application documents are sent by e-mail as a PDF file, possibly with the covering letter in the text of the e-mail.

Written application
Here, an application folder in print format is sent by post. However, this format is increasingly being replaced by online applications.

Unsolicited application
Speculative or unsolicited applications are a special form of application in which you do not apply for a specific advertised position but apply to a company on your own initiative.

Anonymous application
In an anonymous application, you do not include any personal details in your application documents.

Online applications in detail

Distinctions are drawn between online applications submitted by e-mail, via job portals, via company websites and in the form of videos.

E-mail applications: The entire application – i.e. the cover letter, CV, letter of motivation and references etc. – is preferably sent by e-mail as a PDF.

Online forms on websites: These are company-internal job portals that ask the applicant to upload his or her applicant data as well as any accompanying documents in specially designed forms.

Video applications: By means of a self-recorded video, the applicant can present himself or herself in front of a running camera and answer crucial questions about his or her CV. Depending on the company, it may also be necessary to submit a written CV.

Hints on creating and sending an online application

  • Combine all documents – including attachments – in a single PDF
  • Give transparent and full (not abbreviated) names to all documents.
  • Make sure that your application photo has a high resolution.
  • Keep to a maximum file size of 5 MB.
  • Make sure that scanned references and certificates are clearly legible.
  • After sending your application, also check your spam folder for a reply from the company.


How do you insert a signature in an online application?

To insert a handwritten signature in a digital application, it makes sense to first sign on a white sheet of paper. In the second step, scan or photograph the sheet with the signature and save it as an image file. The signature can then be inserted in the digital application.


Where does the application photo go in an online application?

The application photo should be put in the same place in the online application as in a classic paper-based application. It can either appear in the top right-hand corner of the CV or be integrated in the center of the cover page for your application.


Online applications: PDF or Word?

Online applications can be written in Microsoft Word and then converted into a PDF. This has the advantage that the content of the application cannot be modified by outsiders. It also eliminates the risk that the recipient might not be able to open a Word file, or that the formatting changes.

What should be in the subject line of the online application?

Since the subject line of the e-mail is the first thing the recruiter sees, it should be as meaningful as possible and reference the advertised position, the name of the applicant, the keyword "application"/"unsolicited application" and, if available, the reference number of the job advertisement. An example of a formulation could be: [Application as XY]_[Reference number: XY]_[Applicant's first and last name].

What should be in the online application e-mail?

The purpose of the online application e-mail is to introduce your application in a few sentences. It makes sense to briefly describe your motivation for the advertised job, refer to the application documents in the attachment and include your contact details. The cover letter should never be copied into the e-mail.