Do you want to work in Germany? Do you want to gain a unique working experience that will change your perspective? If your answer is yes, then you’ve come to the right place.
Germany is a land of opportunities. It has, in fact, the best economy in Europe, offering some of the highest-paid jobs, state-mandated protection and huge benefits for its workers. No wonder many people dream of starting their career in Germany.
But sometimes, finding out how to make your start in Germany all seems a bit overwhelming and you find yourself standing at a crossroads with no idea where to begin. Don’t worry, because here you have everything. Starting with the job market, the procedure for getting there, finding the perfect job for you, and a place to stay in, we’ll look into all of it. So, read on!
The job market in Germany
You’ll get different possibilities in different parts of the country. It’s how the German labor market is segmented. The west of Germany has higher employment rates than the eastern part. To be more precise, the cities of Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart, Dortmund, Bremen, Düsseldorf and Essen offer some of the best job opportunities for foreign nationals
As an expat looking for a job in Germany, consider the unique possibility to work at one of the many Internet start-ups in Germany. Especially in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and the Metropol Region Rhein-Ruhr, there are huge start-up scenes, mostly tech start-ups, that hire people from all over the world. In Berlin in particular, a brand new start-up is founded every 20 minutes, so you can imagine all the available jobs.
There are also many job opportunities offered in industries like construction, mining and shipbuilding.
Before trying to find work in Germany though, make sure you are qualified. You can find out your chances of realistically being able to immigrate to Germany to continue you career, using the following resources: Qualifications Quick Check »
Did you know that there’s actually a shortage of certain skilled workers in Germany? Specifically, there is a shortage of scientists, engineers, IT experts, mathematicians, hospital doctors and other health workers, professionals with vocational qualifications as well as English teachers.
Hunting for a job in Germany
If you are going to live in a country, you should make an effort to speak that country’s language. Before anything else, you need to understand that speaking the German language is very important if you want increase your chances of finding a job in Germany. Furthermore, if you want to gain the trust of German employers and convince them of your abilities, then make sure you improve your German speaking skills first. Here are some great resources for learning German:
The next step to working in Germany is finding the right job and employer for you. Today, with the growth of the Internet, the best job opportunities are usually found online. That’s why it’s a good idea to look for jobs at expatjobseeker.de – a site that helps foreigners find jobs in Germany by focusing on jobs posted by companies looking for native speakers of foreign languages.
Another useful ally in the hunt for jobs in Germany are newspapers and Yellow Pages. You can even use them to advertise yourself by placing an ad about your skills, qualifications and job preferences. View list of newspapers in Germany »
Face-to-face networking is also a good option. Meet employers at the job fairs and establish a personal contact or simply ask your friends and acquaintances if they know some free spots. Learn about upcoming jobs & careers trade shows in Germany »
Getting a Visa in Germany
Surely you’re wondering whether you need a visa to get jobs in Germany and what type it should be.
Citizens of the European Union can live and work in Germany without a visa or a resident permit. The same applies to Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein. If you live in one of these countries, then this is surely terrific news.
People from countries like the USA, Canada, Japan, Israel, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand can enter the country of Germany without German working visas, but if they want to stay and work in Germany they will need German residence permits and work permits.
All countries outside of those mentioned above can’t work without a visa. It’s as simple as that. But don’t let your hopes down, because the application process is quite simple. All you need to do is make an appointment at a German embassy in your country which is free. Then, you apply for a work visa and wait for it to be approved. See the application here: Application for a national visa »
Applying for a job in Germany
This is the part where you show off your skills and knowledge of the German way of doing things. The documents need to send with your application:
- Cover letter – the first impression you make. In this letter, you write your reasons for applying and why you think you’re suitable for the job.
- CV (Curriculum Vitae) – Germans don’t require a specific chronological order of the categories, yet make sure you include personal details, professional experience, language skills, education and special interests. Also, make sure to include a photo of yourself. Check out this resource that helps you with preparing your CV: Europass »
- Certificates – enclose your most important certificates such as your university degree or certificate from a vocational training, preferably in German.
Interviewing for a job in Germany
It’s the day you’ve been waiting for and you’re one step closer to accomplishing your target. You have been invited to an interview.
As in any country, the interview is nothing more than the employer’s assurance of your skills and qualifications. You may be asked to elaborate on the things in your CV as well as explain why you want the job and how you can contribute to it. Depending on the company, your interviewers may also be interested in your German or English language skills, so be prepared for this. Prepare as well for possible questions about your reasons for choosing Germany and how long you plan to remain in Germany.
If you’re not in Germany, some companies may request to interview you through a video call on Skype for example. And some companies may request that you travel to Germany to have the interview in person. In that case, you should ask whether the company will pay for the travel costs.
The actual working experience in Germany
After signing the contract, you’re ready to settle into your new career in Germany.
Your ordinary working week will be around 40 hours, and you can expect to be able to take off 18 to 30 days from work each year.
German companies are typically well-organized, strict in management, and expect employees to finish all tasks in a timely manner/efficiently (They love the word “efficiency.”) But like in most jobs in any country, all you have to do is just work hard and deliver results on time in order prove your worth and reach higher positions.
How about pay and benefits? The national minimum wage in Germany as of 2014 is EUR 8.50 an hour. In your job you should also receive social security, health insurance, pension insurance, and insurance in case of work accident or unemployment.
Staying in Germany
Since you’re building your life in Germany, having an accommodation is next on your list. While you look for an apartment, you might first stay in hotels, youth hostels or simply rent a flat. Some online resources for finding short-term rentals in Germany include:
To look for longer-term apartments check out these online resources:
Just note that before renting an apartment you’ll be asked to sign a lease which states how much you should pay monthly.
After that, it’s all up to you to order your life the way you want. Embrace Germany and all the cultural differences, make new friends, open a bank account and enjoy your stay.
What’s more, you have a chance to bring your family to you – read more about the steps you need to take here: Family reunification »
All in all, congratulations on making the right decision to live and work in Germany. It’s truly a place where all your dreams can come true. And you can start at making that happen yourself by following the tips provided in this guide that hopefully will get you ready for all the opportunities and memories that lie ahead in Germany.
Hear about the experiences of other expats in Germany
Want to hear stories of how other foreigners have successfully found work in Germany? Watch videos of expats sharing their Germany working experiences and tips here: Germany Job Experiences & Tips »
Want to share your experience or tips on finding work as an expat in Germany? Or do you think something is missing from this post or could be explained better? Then please give your input in a comment below, or submit a video about your experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org