Tips on How to Find a Job in Germany (Checklist)


Updated on Nov 05 • 7 minute read

To find a job in Germany it's just a matter of a handful of tweaks to give your application a touch of German conformity. Ultimately, recruiters in Germany place enormous emphasis on accurately structured CVs (yes, Germans like to keep things neat and structured, even when applying for jobs!). And while cover photos tend to be dropped in most companies across the globe to prevent recruiters from being biased towards applicants, a professional photo remains essential in Germany.

To put it in a nutshell: to make sure that your job search in Germany closes with an offer in your pocket, add some extra polish to your application. Let us show you how to put a "German touch" to your application and how you can land a job with a confident appearance at the interview. What's more, with our checklist you won't forget any documents to start your job as an international!

Step by step, which websites are there for job searching in Germany? To give creativity room in your cover letter, you'll first have to find a job in Germany that suits you and your expectations.

Most international applicants won't immediately find the full picture of the job search website in Germany. So, you’re wondering where's the biggest pool of job offers? You’ll find them here:

1. Social Media

2. Job searching websites in Germany

  • Stepstone
  • Indeed
  • Monster
  • Kununu
  • MeineStellenboersen
  • Jobstairs
  • Jobooh (for startups)
  • Staufenbibel (Internships and entry-level positions)
  • Jobware (management und specialists)
  • Academic (academics and PhDs)

3. English speaking job websites in Germany

  • Craiglist
  • The Local
  • Toplanguage Jobs

4. Directly the company’s websites You've already got your eye on a company where you'd like to join? Check out their career pages on the company's website.

Find a job in Germany more easily following these three tips

Preparation is half the battle! There are three tips to ease the application process a bit before you spot a vacancy that catches your eye.

1. Be there: no matter if it's Berlin's start-up scene, Hamburg's media landscape, or Frankfurt's banking industry, once you have chosen the city you'd like to relocate to in Germany, it's much easier to drop off applications on the spot. This allows you to set up spontaneous coffee dates with responsible people in your favourite company and get in touch more easily.

2. Take a German course: to tell you the truth, German won't be a language barrier in Berlin's startups nor in Munich's multinationals, yet learning German is always a plus. Writing German on your CV shows effort, and also a sign of commitment and integration.

3. Pimp your CV "German proof": Are German CVs really that different? Oh yes, German CVs simply require you to add a dash of the bourgeoisie. See how that works in the next section.

Here's how to get your application file ready to find a job in Germany!

Time to land your job in Germany! Did you spot some exciting job offers on Stepstone or XING? Then the next step is to spice up your application file!

So, what should you actually include in your application in Germany? Keep these documents to hand:

  1. Curriculum vitae
  2. Letter of application
  3. Reference letters
  4. Copy of your diplomas (school, university)
  5. Job references
  6. Passport photos

Step 1: This is how you write a CV

Yes, it's true that a CV is not dealt with in the same manner across countries. And while some countries add a more personal touch with a casual photo on the CV, recruiters in Germany pay close attention to professional photos taken by photographers. You've heard right: a high-quality portrait with smart attire taken by a photographer.

Give your CV a clear structure and make sure that your milestones are listed chronologically:

  • Personal details
  • Photo (top left/top right)
  • Work experience and internships
  • Education
  • Volunteering, Scholarships, Awards
  • Skills

All of this should fit on a maximum of two pages! Once you've finished writing and proofread everything, save it as a PDF and best name it "Surname_Firstname_CV.pdf".

Step 2: Your letter of application

Time to shine! Tell me why exactly do you want to get this job in Germany? Take a moment to understand your aspirations and the reason for what makes you the right candidate for this job. Score points with your career achievements and picks out personal traits that make you an important asset to the company.

One more thing: just as in most countries, German recruiters put emphasis on a clearly structured cover letter that can easily be read down.

This is how you write a convincing cover letter in Germany: 1. Date 2. Headline (Application for [the position] at [company]) 3. Formal salutation (Make sure you find out the name of the person in charge!) 4. 3 - 4 paragraphs, explaining why you point out your personal and professional qualities required for this position

Unless you're applying to a hip startup in Berlin, you might want to keep your writing style formal and professional. Also try not to beat around the bush too much: get straight to the point on one page!

Step 3: Smart attire for your job interview

With a little preparation, you’ll easily master your job interview!

Be ready in ten steps:

1. Be punctual. This should go without saying. In case you've never been in the area of the interview before, plan your trip, calculate extra time and if things go wrong: take a taxi to get to the right place. There's this unwritten rule in Germany that you should arrive 10 minutes early.

2. Smart attire. When it comes to a job interview, it's always better to appear overdressed than underdressed in Germany. So grab your smart business attire to stun the interviewer with your professional attitude.

3. Be prepared. Dive into the "About us" page of the company, absorb its corporate culture and check out the product and service pages. To do so, use Google with the following: "company culture" so that Google shows you every page of the company that contains the word "company culture". Alternatively, try the German equivalent "Unternehmenskultur".

4. Know the state of affairs. Be up to date with the competition and how your company differentiates itself. Use Google News to keep track of the latest innovations in the company.

5. Prepare competence questions. Look again at the job posting to match your skills. Pro tip: Competence questions should always be answered following the "STAR" principle: Situation, task, action, result.

6. Have an idea of your salary expectations. The question comes up sooner or later: What are your salary expectations? Do a little research on how much one earns based on your experience in your job.

7. Ask, ask, ask. At the end of the day, the interviewer might ask you about your questions. Someone with questions shows far more interest. So try preparing one or two questions in advance, for example:

  • Why did this job advertisement become vacant?
  • What metrics do you use to measure the success of the position?
  • How would you describe the corporate culture and management style?
  • What do you expect most from your employees?

8. Eye contact! Be confident and look into their eyes.

9. Copies of your application folder: Even if the company has your application, you might want to take a copy with you. Beyond that, know your CV inside out. Get ready to dive deeper into a certain phase of your career or to explain gaps in your CV. Lost a job that left you with a gap? That can happen, just try to explain it.

10. Turn your mobile phone to silent! It can easily drown in nervousness, but it's a real mood killer. Be sure to turn your mobile phone to silent beforehand.

Checklist: 7 documents to get a job in Germany

You've got your CV polished, your professional photo in a smart attire attached and your letter of the application shows your strongest side, and yet you still can't land a job in Germany? Don't fret, the solution is probably at hand.

For international students from the EU and non-EU countries, there are a few bureaucratic hitches that you have to fix first.

So make sure you run through the checklist and see if you meet all the requirements:

1. Check whether your diploma is recognised: Not every university degree is recognised in Germany; your diploma only becomes effective in Germany if you gained your degree at a state or state-recognised institution. Especially in "regulated professions", primarily in the fields of health, safety or social services, or protected professions, such as engineers, your diploma must be recognised for you to be eligible to work in Germany. In other words, your diploma needs to be officially acknowledged before you can find a job in Germany as an architect, in a health profession or as a teacher.

2. Get your tax identification number: At birth in Germany, you are given the eleven digits of your tax ID, which will accompany you for the rest of your life. This number is, so to speak, your reference number for communicating with the tax office and also your employer needs this number for your wage slip. As an international resident, you receive your own tax ID upon registering at the Residents' Registration Office.

3. Pick a health insurance company: Each person in Germany is required to have health insurance. So it's time to find health insurance! In fact, as soon as you find a job in Germany, your employer covers half of your health insurance contributions.

4. Time to open a bank account! Especially as an international from a country with a different currency, you might want to open a German bank account. This will not only make your everyday life easier but also make it easier for an employer to pay your salary.

5. Police clearance certificate (Bürgeramt) If you want to work as an ethical hacker or in a kindergarten, you usually have to request a police clearance certificate from the Bürgeramt. No room to hide anything! In security-sensitive industries or areas involving children, it's common practice to run a background check.

6. Red card (for the food sector): Whether you help out as a barista in a café or bake bread at a bakery, you will need to present a red card (a health certificate, so to speak). You will then have to go to the local health office or district office for initial health instructions in order to undergo a hygiene test.

7. What about your visa? Internationals from other EU countries can breathe a sigh of relief here. Lucky for you, you don't need a visa! For everyone else: which visa are you currently holding and which visas will you need for work?

Ready to find a job in Germany?

The job search websites in Germany reveal the vast variety of career opportunities at your fingertips. Pick a fitting job, walk through your CV step by step and fill your cover letter with your motivation. Your job interview is next? Relax, with a little preparation you'll master the situation easily! Good luck.

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