A job interview in progress at a German company

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“How to get a job in Germany” is a question asked by many looking to either start or advance their careers in the country. Whether you want to join Frankfurt’s financial sector, make it big in the national capital’s marketing sector, or lend a hand in the research and innovation in Munich’s car manufacturing industry, you are sure to get ample opportunities.

But you will need a plan to speed up your job search and be prepared to grab one when a suitable opening comes up in your chosen sector or preferred company. If you are considering a move to Germany from a foreign land, you must know a few things before you start applying for a job. But there’s nothing to be worried about.

Like many things in life, Germany’s job market has its own special nuances. Additionally, there are certain bureaucratic issues to work around before you accept a job. This could include securing visa sponsorship, getting a work permit and health insurance, and having all the necessary documents to pay taxes, among others.

If finding a job in Germany is high up on your agenda, we have got a 5-step actionable guide to make your job a little bit easier.

Ready to begin? Let’s dive in!    

1.     Take Stock of the Job Scenario in Germany

  • Can a foreigner get a job in Germany?
  • I dream of getting a job in Germany as an American. How tough will it be?
  • Can you tell me how to get a job in Germany from India?

These are some common questions our headhunters have to face often. If you too have the same questions and want answers to them, you should take a look at the Make it in Germany website.

With a quick check on the website, where you will have to answer questions regarding your goal (to work, study, start up a business, etc), citizenship, qualification, country of graduation, and if you have a binding job offer or not, you will be shown your chances of working in Germany.

When it comes to industries with open positions for foreigners, some like IT, engineering, healthcare, and finance usually have a high demand for English-speaking professionals. As a result, companies in these domains actively seek global candidates. You could even try looking up international companies having branches in Germany as they could be more likely to hire overseas employees.

If you speak German, you will have an edge in certain professions, especially where interactions with the locals happen. German proficiency will also help you qualify for diverse and more professional roles, unlike speaking just French or English. For instance, healthcare roles in the country need you to possess a reasonable level of proficiency in German.

Before you move to Germany, learning German will be a wise thing to do. But even if you don’t speak or read German but can understand, read, and write English and French well, specialist jobs in high demand, such as IT specialists, engineers, and mechatronic technicians, among others, will be good avenues to focus upon. However, learning German will definitely pay you rich dividends.  

A word of caution though: Before you start putting in the effort to find a job in Germany, you would do well to know if you will require a visa to work in the country.

2.     Get Your Qualifications Recognised, If It’s Necessary

Certifications and university degrees or diplomas from certain countries and regions are considered equivalent to German ones. If you fall in this category, prospective employers can easily recognise your qualifications and consider you for a role. However, some professions will need you to complete additional requirements or get your existing qualifications recognised for you to become eligible for getting a job in Germany.

You can conduct some research on your own or speak with a potential employer to decide if your qualifications are valid in Germany and whether you will need any additional qualifications to make them valid.

For several jobs in Germany, it can be useful and for some, even necessary, that your educational or vocational qualifications from your home country are recognised in Germany. You can visit the Recognition in Germany website to check if this is applicable to you.

If all these sound like an uphill task to handle on your own, you can work with an experienced headhunter to ensure your journey to finding a job in Germany proceeds without a hitch and comes to fruition fast.             

3.     Begin Your Job Search

Make it in Germany is a good place to start your job search. The job listings on this website give details of vacancies where employers explicitly seek global specialists.

Other places worth visiting for a job search in Germany are the Federal Employment Agency website, websites of companies you want to work for, and reputed employment exchanges like Indeed, StepStone, Arbeitnow, Xing, and Monster. If you prefer niche job boards, Berlin Startup Jobs and Startup Sucht could be right up your alley.

If you are from the EEA, EU, or Switzerland, you could visit the European Employment Services website to look for a job in Germany.

You could even browse LinkedIn to find suitable vacancies or ask your network on the platform to refer you for one in their company or organisation, if they have any or are likely to have a vacancy sometime soon in the future.

If you are already in Germany, you could even visit career fairs or job fairs to submit your CV directly to the participants looking for suitable candidates, either to build and populate their talent pipeline or to fill an existing vacancy.

When looking for a job in Germany, you should consider the city you prefer to work in and live in. The country offers diverse opportunities to match a wide array of interests and skill levels. But as certain cities offer more prospects for specific industries than others, taking your pick wisely and after adequate research will help.

For instance, if you plan to strike a fine balance between a science career and your artistic interests, choosing Berlin would be good. For a career in investment, banking, or finance, you could head to Frankfurt. Apart from researching a particular city’s work options, you should also take into account how well it could satisfy your personal needs related to housing, transportation, and the cost of living.

4.     Get a Visa and Work Permit

If you are a citizen of any one of the EU countries, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland, or Norway, you won’t need a visa to work in Germany.

If you are a citizen of Canada, the USA, Australia, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, or South Korea, you can enter Germany without a visa and stay for a maximum period of 3 months. However, if you want to work during your sojourn, you will have to apply for a residence permit, which allows you to get engaged in gainful employment.

It’s mandatory for citizens of all other countries to get a visa. You can apply for one only when you already have an employment contract in Germany. It would be wise on your part to make an appointment at your country’s German Embassy and tell your future employer that it could take some time before you complete all visa formalities.

If you possess a higher education qualification recognised in Germany, you can get a 6-month visa to search for a job.

Before you apply for work permits, it pays to know the different categories you can apply for under the German Residence Act:

1.      Germany Work Visa

It’s available to foreign employees who are highly qualified with skills that will benefit the German economy. In other words, the goal of this work visa is to accommodate qualified people in roles or industries where EU nationals have skill gaps.

Apart from individuals possessing some training in a vocation, this work visa is also applicable to people with an existing job offer in Germany. If you have a university degree equivalent or evidence of vocational training, it’s adequate to apply for this work permit.

2.      Chancenkarte

Approved in November 2022, this ‘opportunity card’ is Germany’s answer to fight the shortage of skilled workers by attracting foreign professionals and helping them come to Germany easily and work.

The points-based system of the ‘chancenkarte’ will consider your age, qualifications, language skills, and professional experience, among other things.

Annually, quotas will be established based on which industries require skilled workers. Three out of four of the criteria mentioned below must also be met to apply for the scheme:

  • A vocational training certificate or a degree recognised by Germany
  • 3 years’ professional experience
  • Age – 35 years or younger
  • Language skills or an earlier stay in Germany

At present, most non-EU citizens must have a job offer before they can relocate to Germany. Though job seekers planning to work in Germany can already get a visa for the purpose, it’s expected that the ‘chancenkarte’ will accelerate the process and make it easier for skilled people looking to find work in Germany.

3.      Highly Skilled Worker Permit

If you possess a university degree or a German certificate of equivalence (Gleichwertigkeitsbescheinigung), you can qualify for this permit.

This permit applies to extremely skilled professionals like university lecturers entrusted with executive functions and scientists. It can also extend to experts like pharmacists, managers, physicians, engineers, and software developers.

4.      EU Blue Card

If you are a non-EU national possessing a university education and occupy a skilled position, you can apply for the Blaue Karte, or the German EU Blue Card.

A key criterion to qualify for this work permit is to have a salary at least 1.5X the national average. Since Germany suffers from labour shortages in certain fields like medicine, architecture, science, mathematics, IT, and engineering, you can work with an EU Blue Card in these fields for a salary equal to or slightly above the national average.

5.      Youth Mobility Visa (YMV)

This work permit is solely available to Canadian citizens between 18 and 35 years, who possess a valid passport. It’s available through a bilateral agreement between the Canadian and German governments. With it, you – as a qualified individual, can further your education in Germany and interact with the nation’s culture.

Young professionals keen to improve their knowledge of the German language and culture should select category A.

Category B applies to individuals looking for internships.

Category C is applicable to post-secondary students seeking to maximize their academic vacations for work, while category D is for travellers planning to work to finance their trip.

There are other categories too, such as a freelancer work permit and business visa but since they don’t apply to job seekers, we won’t be discussing them here.

In brief, if you are a non-EU country national (which means you stay outside Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Japan, or Israel), you must:

  • Find a job.
  • Apply to the German Embassy for getting an entry visa for employment purposes.
  • Travel to Germany and apply at the Ausländerbehörde for the work and residence permit.

There’s an alternative where you can:

  • Apply for a German Job Seeker Visa.
  • Find employment.
  • Submit your application for work residence permit to the Ausländerbehörde.

A word of caution though: You can’t enter Germany through the visa-free agreement or with a Schengen Visa and subsequently apply for the work permit. If you do this, your application will be rejected right away. You must prove to the German Immigration Authority that you have entered the country with the purpose of employment, not tourism.

5.     Start Applying to Suitable Open Positions and Be Prepared for Job Interviews

There’s no shortcut or easy way to find a job in Germany. So, instead of trying to find answers to “how to get a job in Germany easily?” you should focus on finding a job in Germany that suits your qualifications, skill-sets, and/or experience.

After you have got your qualifications recognised, shortlisted open positions or companies that you want to work with, and obtained the necessary work permits, start sending your job applications with a cover letter.

Don’t miss the cover letter because 39% of all recruiting managers in Germany pay no attention to an application that’s not accompanied by a cover letter. Since a cover letter communicates your professionalism, research capabilities, and how well you can sell yourself for the open position, it pays to plan and write it well to land your coveted job in Germany.

If you aren’t sure what to wear for your job interview, we have got you covered. From a teenager to a man and a woman, our interview attire tips are sure to help. You can even get specific advice about what not to wear and the ideal clothes to wear for a Zoom interview.

Final Words

Perhaps you now have an answer to “can a foreigner get a job in Germany?” However, you will need to follow the steps mentioned above meticulously to find a suitable job and make it big in Germany. Though there’s no easy way to do it, it’s not impossible either.

And if all these sound like too much to handle by yourself, you can always count on experienced headhunters to help you get a job in Germany while covering all the legal and other requisite bases.

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