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Cover letters used to be printed and put into an envelope with a CV and other documents. Therefore, at least in Germany, they contained the senders name, postal address, the current date, subject, the recipients name and recipients address.

Should a cover letter in PDF format contain this information even if it will be uploaded on a website or sent via e-mail?

One the one hand the letter looks more formal this way and the potential employee could see that I know how to write a proper business letter. On the other hand this information is superfluous and only clutters the cover letter and from a UX perspective I want it to be as lean as possible.

Variant A with address information, date and visuals

                                                           Max Mustermann
                                                       Beispielstraße 123
                                                             54321 Astadt
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

employer company inc.
Straße 451
12346 Bstadt




                                                       26. Oktober 2017


Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,


lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, 
sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore
magna aliquyam erat, sed diam voluptua. At vero eos et accusam
et justo duo dolores et ea rebum. Stet clita kasd gubergren.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Max Mustermann

Variant B without address information

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,


lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, 
sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore
magna aliquyam erat, sed diam voluptua. At vero eos et accusam
et justo duo dolores et ea rebum. Stet clita kasd gubergren.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Max Mustermann

This is for a German language application in Germany for an IT job. I would render the cover letter in Latex.

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This question has no "right" answer...it's subjective based on who you are applying too.

The short answer is unless you know for a fact the company you are applying to hates cover letters that look traditional - you always make it look traditional. You risk looking lazy & unable to follow social rules (which are a precursor to workplace social rules).

This of course is modified by the position & the company you are applying for ...

The more traditional the company, the more important you provide them with everything they expect. If you do decide not too - you need to mirror this everywhere so they know you did this on purpose, not that you were ignorant of the standards everyone else followed.

Example, if you applying to be a designer - you might want to make your cover letter flashy instead of traditional & that might be the way to do it.

Another example, you are going theoretically going to work for some big name imaginary company that hates traditional values, they all wear street clothing, they have no formal offices, only a collection of art deco style huts on the roof of some skyscraper & they dance a 3 count instead of a 4 count (those heathens?!). Perhaps they forbid wasting ink on duplicate information - so in the place of the address you put a little note, "Thank you for considering me!"

That's pretty extreme, but I want to point out if you are applying to a technical position, a law firm, a government job etc - it would be a real mistake not to be precise & follow standards.

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Should a cover letter in PDF format contain this information even if it will be uploaded on a website or send via e-mail?

In this case I think that including those would be redundant. An email already contains such information when being sent (except postal address, but that is more for Postal Services use when physically delivering the letter).

Also, if uploaded from a website, that data can easily be obtained from the website's backend if needed (the date from a timestamp, recipient is implied, postal address unnecessary again, etc.).

Therefore, you could omit this information to make your cover letter more lean. Also, I think that writing formal business letters is not a necessary skill for an IT role (now days, if you don't know you can Google it anyways), so I would not worry of that being a really important factor for the job you are applying.

(In its core, I also think this is a matter of style preferences, so if you feel more comfortable sending a formal PDF letter go ahead. It is unlikely that doing so can put you in any sort of troubles.)

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    Germany can be very formal and structured departing from the norm will probably get you marked down sending an informal cover letter is a risk you don't have to take. – Neuromancer Oct 30 '17 at 23:24
  • @Neuromancer thanks for the feedback. However, it is also a known fact that Germans tend to be more practical, efficient and to-the-point in their communications. Therefore, including redundant details may not be something efficient and to the point to do. – DarkCygnus Oct 30 '17 at 23:28
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    I can only second @Neuromancer and would highly recommend writing the letter as Variant A. No one will refuse an interview for a letter too formal but people might do so for a letter too informal. – Wilbert Oct 31 '17 at 6:45
  • "An email already contains such information" - true, but note that "the e-mail" is often handled only as the "envelope" used to send the application documents in. It is well possible only the attachments of the e-mail reach whoever actually handles the application (either digitally, or maybe even printed out), while the e-mail itself will be discarded. – O. R. Mapper Nov 7 '17 at 12:56

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