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Tips for career orientation and application

You'll soon have your graduation under your belt and would now like to see where your journey will take you after school? Then our tips on career orientation and the application phase are the perfect toolbox for you. Our HR experts will tell you all about it and give you valuable tips to help you on your way.

Career orientation

You've been to school enough and now you're wondering what path you'll take after this time? The final year of school often goes by faster than you think. The final exams are coming up soon. After that, it's time to celebrate and mark the end of school. But what then? Apprenticeship, full-time studies or in the dual system, FSJ or internships? There are so many options that you often can't see the wood for the trees.

Tip 1: Push the pedal to the metal at the end of your time at school!

You don't feel like going to school anymore and you would like to be free right away, start your professional life, finally earn money or just stand on your own two feet? We would like to encourage you to kick your heels in and get going. A good graduation certificate can open many doors for you and is nowadays one of the most important prerequisites for getting your dream apprenticeship or university place. Which qualification you need for which training program can vary from company to company and is specified in the job advertisement.

What is it like at Testo Industrial Services?
At Testo Industrial Services, all apprenticeships require at least a "mittlere Reife" (Secondary school leaving certificate) or a good "Werkrealschulabschluss" (“Werkrealschule” diploma). For the various dual courses of study, you can apply with either the general university entrance qualification or the advanced technical college entrance qualification. You have acquired the entrance qualification for studies at universities of applied sciences? Then you must have successfully passed the DHBW's aptitude test. 


To ensure that you can seamlessly forge ahead with your future plans after graduation, you need a plan as early as possible. That's why good preparation is the be-all and end-all. If you are already sure that you want to do a particular apprenticeship or dual study program, then don't hesitate and find out about it about 18 months before you want to start. In most cases, it is usual to apply about 9 to 18 months before the start of the training.

What is it like at Testo Industrial Services?
At Testo Industrial Services, you should submit your application about one year before the start of your training or studies. In some cases, training positions are available even later, so we recommend paying attention to the current vacancies on our homepage.

Finding the perfect degree or apprenticeship - that's not an easy decision, if not impossible. Like everything in life, every job has its advantages and disadvantages. But you must always be aware that you should enjoy your work, because we spend a large part of the day at work. Therefore, you should never make your career choice solely dependent on financial aspects.

We recommend that you explore your strengths and interests and consider which tasks you enjoy doing. Are you more the communicative type or do you prefer to work alone? Do you like to work creatively or according to fixed structures? Do you like to work with people or with technology, physics or other natural sciences? To answer these questions, you can also take a look at your timetable. Which classes do you like to go to or which subjects would you even be willing to work on in your free time?

To help you identify your strengths and weaknesses during your career orientation phase, the following tools are also useful:

  • Discussions with friends, family members and acquaintances and teachers
  • A counseling interview at the vocational information center of the employment agency
  • A vocational aptitude test at www.interesse-beruf.de
  • Information on career guidance at the IHK

Once you have narrowed down your strengths and interests, it's worth thinking about your favorite type of training. Are you ready to really cram and hit the books at a university or university of cooperative education? Or have you had enough of plain theory and would prefer to get started directly in practice? The answers to these questions will determine which type of training you should choose. A basic distinction can be made between the following common types:

Dual training:
Dual training, in which theory and practice alternate, is probably the best-known type of training in Germany. You work in your training company and are released from work to attend vocational school. The vocational school takes place either on one or two fixed days a week or as block instruction. The training period lasts between two and three and a half years, although a reduction is possible under certain conditions. The training allowance you receive depends on the company, the training occupation and the apprenticeship year.

Dual study:
In this form of training, the theoretical fundamentals are taught at the dual university, while the practical experience is gained in the company. The practical and theoretical phases usually alternate in blocks of three or six months. As a rule, the general (technical) university entrance qualification is required for a dual course of study. The duration of the dual study program depends on the course of study and is between six and eight semesters (this corresponds to three to four years). The Cooperative State University has a total of nine locations throughout Baden-Württemberg.

Full-time study:
In this type of study, apart from one or two excursions, you are at the college/university and learn the theoretical content in lectures and seminars. The standard period of study for bachelor's degree programs is six to eight semesters, but can be extended at will, e.g. due to a stay abroad. This form of education is usually financed by parental support, income from part-time jobs or state support (such as BAföG).

By the way: Salary information is always given as gross earnings. The net salary is the amount that is actually transferred to your account. The following therefore applies: gross salary minus taxes and social insurance contributions = net salary.

What are the advantages of a dual study program?

  • You gain professional experience directly during your studies
  • You will definitely learn structured work and self-organization here
  • You have a fixed salary throughout your studies
  • You have the opportunity to be taken on by the training company after graduation

What are the arguments in favor of full-time study?

  • You are independent of an industry
  • You have more freedom in choosing your specialization subjects during your studies

You've already followed the last tips and now have a rough idea of where your journey will take you after school? Regardless of whether it's an apprenticeship or a dual study program - in both types of training, you will sooner or later be employed by a company or institution. That's why it's worth getting a taste of a company of your choice as part of an internship.

During this internship period, you can usually go through different departments of a company, get to know the people and their ways of working, and thus quickly find out whether the profession or a course of study in this field suits you. Usually, schools offer one-week periods during which you can do an internship. Alternatively, you can also use a week during the summer vacations to gain new experience. This will not only help you personally, but will also help you later in the application process and can increase your chances of finding an apprenticeship or university place. The only important thing here is to check with the companies for an internship as early as possible.

You now know exactly what career path you want to take? Then it's important to find the training company that suits you. It depends on many factors whether you feel comfortable in a company. How the work, the team and the feeling of togetherness is in a company - that is difficult or impossible to judge in advance. Nevertheless, you can consciously ask yourself the following questions and thus narrow down the selection of training companies:

Do you prefer a larger or smaller company?
Whether a small or large company - both have their advantages and disadvantages. It is often easier to integrate in small companies, but in large companies you often have the opportunity to learn more and later also versatile development opportunities. However, this usually depends on your personality and any experience you may already have gained during internships.

How important is the journey to the training company to you?
You will have to travel to the training facility for your entire training period of about three years. Therefore, consider carefully and early on how much free time you are willing to invest for the duration of the journey. If you do not have a car, it is important to check the public transport connections.

Do you attach importance to the opportunities for further development after the training?
You should also ask yourself: What are the development opportunities in the company? Do you already have a major goal in mind and does the company in question offer you a future? Nowadays, initial training is followed by numerous further training courses in order to adapt professional skills to the rapid changes in everyday working life. Therefore, you should consider these topics.

Have you already heard good things about the company?
You can learn a lot about a company's reputation from online research or conversations with acquaintances and family. But you should be sure to get different opinions, because there are always complainers. Make a conscious effort to also find out something about the corporate culture and the working atmosphere. Because a pleasant working atmosphere is absolutely essential.

Eine Bewerberin schreibt ihren Lebenslauf und blickt in die Kamera.

Application tips

You are already dreaming of your apprenticeship at a company of your choice, but you still have to apply? We support you with valuable tips and tricks for the entire application process.

Eine Bewerberin schreibt eine Checkliste

Your application

Hardly any letter is as important for your professional future as the letter of application. Because these lines can be the first step to an interview and thus to a training or study place. It is important that your application reflects your personality and fits the professional field. At the end, you should have your application proofread again to avoid unnecessary mistakes.

The following components belong in your application:

  • Cover page
  • Cover letter 
  • Resume  / CV
  • Testimonials / School certificates
  • Certificates of internships, part-time jobs, voluntary work, etc.

The application photo - that's how people like to see you!

Nowadays, it is no longer mandatory to include a photo with the application, but it is still recommended. The photo is classically placed in the top right corner of the resume or on the cover page. You should observe the following Dos & Don'ts:


  • Neat hairstyle and appropriate clothing adapted to the company and the industry
  • A straight look into the camera
  • Photos from a professional photographer - the investment is worth it


  • Too much jewelry, excessive make-up and inappropriate clothing
  • A biometric passport photo - a photo with a friendly smile is better
  • Casual snapshots, party pictures, and outdated photos
  • An exaggerated, artificial smile
  • Full body shots

The cover letter is the center of every application. Here you can present your current situation, your skills and your motivation for the advertised position. Many people place a cover sheet with the key data of the application (job title, address, content of the application) in front of the cover letter. This is not mandatory, but can be added individually by you.


  • A clear subject with the exact job title
  • Individual cover letter for the respective job profile
  • Back up your statements with references and evidence
  • Tell the company exactly why you are applying to them


  • Spelling or formal errors
  • "Dear Sir or Madam": You should always find out the contact person in the company
  • No clear statements

The resume in your application should provide an overview of the stages in your life to date. There you enter personal data such as name, contact details, date and place of birth and write down your school career. You can also mention professional experience (e.g. part-time or vacation jobs), voluntary work, honorary activities and other skills such as language skills. The standard format is the tabular CV, with the chronological information on the left and the related information on the right (the most recent information comes first).


  • Clear and understandable listing
  • Orientation to the job advertisement
  • Presentation of the most important skills and qualifications - visually and in terms of content
  • On the last page of the resume the date and your signature


  • Formal errors and mistakes in the data provided 
  • Too much information (max. 2 pages)
  • Gaps in the curriculum vitae, if there are, add the explanation

Certificates are very important for employers because they show what qualifications you have and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. You should include your most recent school report (annual report, interim report or final report) with your application.

Make sure you only send copies and keep the original. Special qualifications or knowledge that you mention in your resume should also be proven by certificates, such as internship certificates or language certificates. You should only include certificates that are relevant to the job or training position.

The trend is clearly moving in the direction of online applications. This not only protects the environment, but also your wallet. You don't have to pay for application folders, printouts or postage. In addition, it arrives quickly at the recipient and can be processed as quickly as possible. In most cases, you even get an immediate confirmation of receipt by mail when applying online. There are usually two options offered by companies: either by mail or by online form. When applying by e-mail, you should combine all documents into one PDF file. Make sure to name the file with the content and your name, e.g. "Application Max Mustermann".

However, many companies nowadays also use online forms. There you enter your data and attach your documents to the appropriate position. Whether you submit your application by mail, e-mail or online form always depends on what the company requires. Therefore, always pay attention to how it is requested, so that your application arrives as quickly as possible.


  • Meaningful subject line with indication of the job title
  • Short form of the cover letter in the text of the e-mail
  • Do not forget contact details and list of attachments
  • Use a serious e-mail address, in case of emergency create a new one free of charge (e.g. firstname.lastname@t-online.de).


  • Wrong recipient. If you are applying to more than one company, be sure to match the application and recipient
  • Forgotten attachment. This actually happens faster than you think
  • Incomplete attachments. Create a PDF in which all required files and attachments are integrated.

An application without a specific job advertisement from the company can also lead to success - this is then referred to as an initiative application. It may be, for example, that all training positions have already been filled or that the company has not yet provided training. In order to get a chance from the company, it is particularly important to stand out positively. 

It is best to obtain information from the company in advance, e.g. the right contact person. Then you have to describe particularly well in the cover letter why you would like to work in this company and what your motivation is for this particular position, e.g. the product or the image of the employer. You should take special care not to send the same initiative application to several companies, but to respond individually to each position and each employer. 

Assessment center and job interview

In order to test the skills and qualities of an applicant, more and more companies are organizing so-called assessment centers. In these procedures, individual or group tests are used to simulate real-life situations in which you can demonstrate your personality and working methods. If you are invited to an assessment center, look out for the following:


  • Proving that you can approach a task in a structured way. This also includes handling equipment carefully and leaving a tidy workplace
  • Gathering information and considering questions at home and during the assessment center in order to make a good overall impression later on
  • Good manners and a polite demeanor, also when dealing with other applicants, to show that you are a team player


  • Appear too reserved or too dominant, otherwise you will not be noticed at all or will be noticed negatively.
  • Arriving too late. This is often a knock-out criterion.
  • Playing a role. This inevitably attracts attention at some point and makes you appear untrustworthy.

What is it like at Testo Industrial Services?
At Testo Industrial Services, the assessment center is used to select dual students. They are invited to test personal and professional characteristics. For example, a short self-presentation is required, group discussions are encouraged or individual or group work is carried out. At the same time, of course, we offer you the opportunity to get to know us as a company.

Finally happened what you've been working towards for weeks? Congratulations on your job interview! But after the joy often comes a little pang of panic: Who and what can I expect? What if I have a blackout? How can I prepare myself? The most important thing is that you prepare well for the upcoming interview. You should know a lot about your desired training occupation, but also about the company. This includes, for example, the products or services, structures and areas of responsibility. You can find information in brochures and on the company's website. If you know someone who works there, it's even better to get first-hand information and experience. No two interviews are the same. The process is always dependent on the answers you give and what the focus is. In the case of apprenticeships, it is difficult to verify technical competencies because there is usually no work experience. Therefore, the main thing is to get to know the applicant and his attitude.

Your questions in the job interview - that's what counts!

At the end of the interview, the question often comes up whether you as an applicant still have questions. Here it is important to ask a few appropriate questions in order not to appear disinterested and unprepared. Ideally, you should write down your questions beforehand, but be careful not to ask what has already been clarified in the interview or what you could have found out by researching on the Internet. It is recommended to ask about two to four open-ended questions to get more detailed answers. Here are a few ideas for typical questions:

  • Which departments will I get to know? 
  • What is the introduction period like? 
  • How does vocational school or university instruction take place? 
  • What are the chances of being offered a job after the apprenticeship? 
  • How many other trainees and students are there in the company? 
  • When can I expect feedback? 
  • What are the general conditions (training salary, vacation days, working hours)? (It is absolutely okay to ask this question, even though it used to be said that it should never be asked. This way you show that you are independent and realistic. However, it shouldn't be asked first, so it doesn't seem like that's all it's about). 


  • Think about the clothing at an early stage. This should fit the profession and company
  • Prepare application documents and questions and take them with you to the interview.
  • Arrive early enough to avoid stress and be on time.
  • Inform yourself early: Where do I have to go and who is my contact person?
  • Accept the drink at the beginning of the interview. If you talk a lot, a drink helps for a dry throat
  • Don't be afraid and be authentic - your interview partners want to get to know you as a person.


  • Interrupt the conversation partners
  • Turn your eyes away or just fixate on one of the interviewers 
  • Exaggerate or lie - this will be noticed at some point anyway
  • Answer without thinking, rather think about it for a moment

An interview with our HR Manager

We interviewed our HR Manager at Testo Industrial Services in person. See for yourself what David Guy can tell you with his years of experience. This is what really matters in the application and the interview!

To the interview