Monday, 11 February 2013

Finding a Job in Germany

...isn't easy at all. Really by no stretch of the imagination. Whereas in Britain, you could theoretically arrive on  Day 1 and - given you're not fussy, and are just looking for something to tie you over -  be clocking in for work on Day 2.  Granted, it would most likely be re-filling the shelves in Pret a Manger, or manning the flower stall outside the supermarket for 3 hours per day. But you would find something. Not so in Germany. An endless list of requirements stands in your every way. I just checked some ads for "Bürokraft" - an office help. Badly paid, and really a dogsbody (or more quaintly, A Girl Friday) mainly in charge of fetching more coffee. But in Germany you're required to have "at least 5 years experience in office work" (huh?) you need to have previous experience working for "a travel agency, shipping company or such like" (again huh?, the job was just about doing some online filing.) Every reasonably intelligent person can pick up the ropes for such a job in half a day. But no, without previous experience they wouldn't even be prepared to look at you.

If you're looking for a more highly qualified job (executive or management level) ... well, I'm tempted to say "forget it". You'd be practically required to have worked for the very same company you're applying for already. Well they might give you an interview if it was their direct competition. I'm exaggerating slightly, but the reality is uncomfortably close to this scenario.

Even a common default-idea like getting a job in a bookshop (something I did in London, and enjoyed a lot)  would not be possible in Gemany - unless you have completed an apprenticeship as a bookseller (German certificate required!).

The whole job market is so static, so lethargic, and unwieldy, it makes you despair. But if you're thinking of setting up your own business instead - beware! Bureaucratic requirements involving the Inland Revenue, considerable capital to set up a registered company, and arcane regulations will make you think twice about this option. And that's not to mention the sheer impossibility of finding clients. In a socially extremely conservative society, this is a battle in itself.

Sorry to be the harbinger of mainly negative information - but everybody here has at one stage or other been totally and utterly fed up with the organisation of the German job market. It often seems the only way to land a job is to by-pass all the official channels, and rely on personal information and recommendation. Not alas, the most reliable and quick way to get one into employment!

If you have specific questions about finding a job in Germany, feel free to contact me. I'm also in the process of setting up a network called "Opportunities Exchange Germany" - a forum for freelancers in the creative sector who're looking to find clients or work in Germany. (see here for more detail


  1. I totally concur with this blog, having lived and worked in Germany for over 20 years. One tip I would have: network like there's no tomorrow. Find out where the crowd you'd like to be part is hanging out - online, offline - and mingle heavily. Won't pay off overnight, but tends to throw things up more than you'd think.

  2. I've recommended this post to the readers of the blog at the Germany-USA Career Center, here:

    1. Thank you! Maybe you'd also like to pass on the 5 Tips How To Find a Job in Germany - my current post.

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