How to find a job in Germany as a foreigner: Expert tips


Updated on Sep 06 • 5 minute read

If you're a foreigner looking to work in Germany, this guide is for you. We'll help you with the steps to find an English-speaking job in Germany. You'll learn how to search for jobs, get your qualifications recognized, write tailored job applications, and get the right work visa and residence permit. This guide simplifies the process, so you can achieve your dream of working in Germany.

Benefits of Working in Germany

Working in Germany comes with a host of advantages:

  1. Strong economy: Germany is the largest economy in Europe and ranks fourth globally. The country maintains a steady job market with low unemployment rates, around 4%.

  2. High salaries: Germany offers competitive salaries, with average gross monthly earnings exceeding €4,000, ensuring financial well-being.

  3. Skilled workforce: Germany's reputation for a highly skilled labour force is well-deserved, thanks to its vocational education system. Collaborating with such professionals enhances your own expertise.

  4. Quality education: Germany provides world-class education that is either free or affordable. Many of its universities are globally renowned, making it a great place for your children's education. International schools are also available for expatriate families.

  5. Healthcare: Germany's universal healthcare system ensures comprehensive medical services for all residents. Mandatory health insurance guarantees access to quality healthcare.

  6. Work-life balance: Germans value a healthy work-life balance, with a typical workweek limited to 35-40 hours. Generous paid leave and family-friendly policies make it easier to achieve this balance.

  7. Travel opportunities: Germany's central European location grants you easy access to neighbouring countries. Efficient transportation options like high-speed trains and airports facilitate your travels.

  8. Job security: Strong labour laws, collective bargaining agreements, and robust worker protections contribute to job security. Dismissals are strictly regulated, ensuring legal safeguards for employees.

  9. Cultural richness: Immerse yourself in Germany's rich cultural heritage, which includes diverse traditions, festivals, and historical landmarks. The country's welcoming environment embraces multiculturalism.

  10. Career advancement: Germany is home to multinational corporations and innovative industries, providing ample opportunities for career growth. The encouragement of continuous vocational training and professional development means your career can thrive.

Is it hard for English speakers to find a job in Germany?

While finding a job in Germany as an English speaker may have challenges, it's possible with some proactive steps:

  • Explore English-friendly sectors: Look for job opportunities in sectors like IT, finance, and international companies, where English is commonly used.

  • Learn basic German: Consider learning basic German to improve communication and integration, which can enhance your job prospects.

  • Networking is key: Attend industry events, join professional networks, and use online job platforms to expand your network and discover job opportunities.

  • Highlight specialized skills: Emphasize any specialized skills or qualifications you possess to stand out in the competitive job market.

What jobs are in demand in Germany?

Germany is currently experiencing a significant labour shortage, affecting various sectors nationwide. In-demand jobs span a wide range of professions, including:

  1. Transport and logistics: Train drivers and professionals responsible for traffic control and rail monitoring are highly sought after due to the country's extensive railway network.

  2. Social sector: The social sector faces a shortage of education workers, social workers, preschool teachers, and especially elderly and nursing care workers.

  3. Engineering: The engineering sector consistently requires electrical, civil and mechanical engineers to support Germany's robust manufacturing industry.

  4. Information technology: IT professionals, particularly software developers and data analysts, are needed to drive innovation in the tech industry.

  5. Healthcare: Ongoing demand for healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, and medical specialists reflects the country's ageing population.

This labour shortage is no longer limited to specific industries; it affects various professions across Germany. The situation underscores the country's need for qualified workers from various backgrounds to fill these crucial roles.

Top job sites in Germany

When it comes to finding your dream job, job sites are a great place to start. Here are some of the most popular job portals in Germany:

1. Social media

  • LinkedIn
  • Xing

Pro Tip: Reach out to key contacts in your preferred companies on LinkedIn to learn more about your dream job and make a lasting impression!

2. Job sites

3. English-speaking job websites in Germany

  • Craiglist
  • The Local
  • Top Language Jobs

4. Directly on company websites

If you already have a specific company in mind where you'd like to work, check out their career pages on the company's website for job openings.

Preparing your job application in Germany

Ready to apply for a job in Germany? Here's what you need to do:

1. CV (Curriculum Vitae):

  • Make your CV neat and organized, including your name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile.
  • Detail your work experience, internships, education, volunteering, scholarships, awards, and skills.
  • If you include a photo, make sure it looks professional.
  • Tailor your CV to match the job you're applying for, and try to keep it concise, ideally fitting on 2 pages.
  • Save it as a PDF file with the name "Surname_Firstname_CV.pdf."

2. Letter of application:

  • Personalize your cover letter for the specific company and job you're interested in.
  • Use a structured format with the date, a clear headline, and 3-4 brief paragraphs highlighting your qualifications for the position.

3. Preparing for the job interview:

  • Arrive on time, dress professionally, and aim to be a little early.
  • Research the company's background, culture, and products or services.
  • Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to prepare for competency questions.
  • Prepare thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer about the company and the role.

Supercharge your job hunt! Learn how to make a lasting impression and master the art of salary negotiation in Germany with insider tips from a German recruiter:

Requirements to work in Germany

Here are the key requirements to work in Germany:

  1. Work visa and residence permit: Depending on your nationality, you may need a work visa and/or resident permit to work legally in Germany. EU citizens are exempt from this requirement.

  2. Diploma recognition: Ensure your diploma is officially recognized if you studied at a non-recognized institution. This is crucial, especially for regulated professions like architects, health professionals, or teachers.

  3. Tax identification number: Obtain your tax identification number, a lifelong reference for tax-related matters.

  4. Health insurance: Choose a health insurance provider, as it's mandatory in Germany. Your employer will cover half of your health insurance contributions once you find a job.

  5. Bank account: Open a German bank account, especially if you're from a country with a different currency. This makes it easier for your employer to pay your salary.

  6. Police clearance certificate: Depending on your job, you may need a police clearance certificate, which you can obtain from the Bürgeramt. This is common in security-sensitive industries or roles involving children.

  7. Red card (only food sector): If you work in the food sector as a barista or baker, you'll require a red card, essentially a health certificate. You must undergo a hygiene test at the local health or district office.

Don't forget, successful relocation involves more than just finding a job. For a comprehensive guide on moving to Germany, including visa information, housing tips, and more, be sure to check out our relocation checklist for Germany. Best of luck on your journey to a rewarding career in Germany!

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