If you are looking for a great place to get a job as an expat, Germany is an exciting choice. It represents the largest economy in Europe and offers an excellent quality of life for singles and families alike. Stable government and low crime are further pluses.
However, only a fraction of the available positions in Germany are open to expats. If you don’t speak German, your chances are even slimmer. But that doesn’t mean you should let go of your dream to live there. You just have to work a bit harder.
Following are some helpful tips for navigating the process of landing a job in Germany.
Target an Industry
As in many other countries, Germany is open to hiring foreigners in industries where the country is experiencing a shortage of qualified personnel. In this case, that includes engineers of all kinds (electrical, mechanical, automotive, and building), IT specialists, and even some manufacturing roles.
Thanks to a robust health care system, Germany also has an increasingly older population. As a result, workers in health and nursing professions are in short supply. Teachers, especially English teachers, are always needed. Expats also gravitate toward the hospitality industry for both long term and casual work.
Once you choose an industry that matches up with your education and experience, you’ll want to position yourself as one of the best in that field. The more qualified you are, the better your chances of landing a job quickly.
Review and Improve Professional Skills
If you intend to live and work in Germany for a long time, it’s recommended that you have earned at least a Bachelor’s degree. Some casual jobs don’t require formal education, but they also don’t offer much growth potential.
Obviously, knowing how to speak, read, and write in German is also a huge plus. Before heading to Germany, it’s worthwhile to take some time to brush up on your education by finishing that degree, taking additional certification courses, and learning the language.
Choose a Visa or Work Permit
German law makes it easy for foreigners to travel to Germany and look for a job. Citizens of the EU, European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland don’t need a visa or permit to live and work in Germany, but are required to register their German address with the government.
People from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan, Canada, and South Korea don’t need a visa to travel to Germany, but do need to apply for German residence and apply for a work permit. Citizens of other nations must apply for one of several types of visa before travel to Germany.
Rules surrounding immigration change all the time, so do your research before booking a ticket for Germany. However, chances are good that you’ll find an ideal visa or permit for your particular situation.
Naturally, German companies hire German workers first, so the number of positions available for foreigners is limited. That doesn’t mean they are non-existent, though. As we mentioned before, there are areas of distinct need in Germany, and the country as a whole welcomes the contribution of foreign-born workers.
The key is to look in the right place. Especially if you will need to be sponsored by your company for a work visa, explore job sites that are targeted to expats. Good choices include Expatica, Immigrant Spirit, and Just Landed.
Another strategy is to reach out to the German Federal Employment Agency, called Jobbörse. Not only does it have a jobs board, it also allows you to create an applicant profile with your CV, get job offers by email, and learn about self-employment opportunities. You can even seek out sources for job training.
Getting to Germany is relatively easy, and many job seekers can live there for up to six months while they search for employment. However, you’ll want to arrive with enough money to support yourself for that long, just in case.
Luckily, the cost of living in Germany is lower than in places like the United States and Britain, but you’ll still need to budget approximately 900 euros (just over $975 American) per month for living expenses.
It’s also important to practice cultural sensitivity when you arrive in Germany. Yes, your unique viewpoint is welcomed there, but expat job seekers will find better success when they understand the German work ethic and workplace culture.
Germans have a famously strong work ethic, but it really boils down to efficiency. You’ll be expected to show up on time AND leave on time, doing your work as efficiently as possible in the time allotted. Then, it’s time to relax.
Germany offers a high quality of life, relatively low cost of living, and a straightforward road to residency. It’s most definitely worth the effort to begin a new way of life in Germany. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll be there in no time.