Sunday, 17 February 2013

How to Find a Job in Germany - 5 Tips

In my last post I emphasized how difficult it is to come to Germany with the expectation of finding a job. Regulations, certificates, a pretty inflexible attitude, and intransparent selection criteria make applying for a job a decidedly laborious process. But then again, every country has its own arcane procedures and preferences when it comes to employment. At least nobody will ask you to do one of those excruciating Myers-Briggs type of tests.

So, how DO you go about finding a job in Germany?

1. Learn the language
However despotic this may sound - there is no way round it. If your German isn't fluent, you won't get a look-in. Fact. Pick up conversational German even before you arrive here, and hone your skills in your particular area of expertise. Practice speaking under pressure, as you will have to do so in the interviewing process. No good being all fluent at home with your partner, and sitting there like a lemon when the HR person gives you a grilling.

2.  Establish Leads
From your home country, when you already know you want to live and work in Germany, try and establish some leads. It's unlikely (if not impossible) that you will have secured a proper job offer, but make sure  you're at least in contact (e.g. via Social Media) with companies in your chosen field. Once in Germany, you can then refer back to your previous communication and build stronger ties. Make sure you spread those leads as wide as possible, as most of them might not result directly in a job offer. However,

3.Contacts are important in Germany
Sometimes knowing "somebody" will get you round that pesky need for the right certificate double-quick. So the more people you've already established contact with, the better. Even if your contacts aren't in a postition to leverage you into a position, you will pick up industry gossip, tips, and some insider information. Vacancies often get announced internally first, so if you have advance information, you can apply before the job even gets advertised. A definite bonus!

4. Take the initiative!
It is quite common in Germany to just write off to a company asking whether there is a job going in your specific field. Make it a proper application (including your detailed c.v. and as many photocopied "certificates" you can rustle up). German companies will keep those applications on file, and contact you  if and when a vacancy arises. And last, but not least:

5. Don't go to Berlin!
Unless you want to be an "artist", or a "Social Media Consultant"(in other words, unemployed) Berlin is not the best place in Germany for finding a job. In fact with an unemployment rate of 12 percent, (by far the highest in the country) it may well be the worst. There simply aren't enough companies in Berlin, and there are by far too many people. Unless you're after having a fun time on the dole, avoid the capital, and do some smart exploring instead. The south-west (Stuttgart area) and the south (Munich etc) are the hotspots for well-paid jobs. And don't worry: Germany is very de-centralised, so just because you're not living in Berlin doesn't mean you won't be having any fun!

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