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Looking for a job in a brand new country is never easy. Add a global pandemic to that mix and throw in a new language and it’s a whole other ballgame. I came to Germany from India in April 2021 and actively began applying for jobs almost immediately. I was fortunate to have received several opportunities to interview and ultimately land a dream job but getting there took a fair amount of strategy and this post is going to show you how!
Let’s start with the first question:
Over the last few years, Germany has increasingly become a popular destination for studying abroad because of its very low tuition fees, interesting culture, prestigious universities (in fact, 50 of its universities are considered to be amongst the best globally) and its central location in Europe.
Germany’s economy is also experiencing profound success right now in the international market, meaning there are good-paying jobs nearly everywhere around the country. On average, Germans work 35 hours per week, 20% less than the UK where full-time workers typically complete 44 hours. Every full-time worker is generally entitled to around 30 days holiday plus 9 public holiday days, ensuring that they are fully well-rested and enjoy a great work-life balance.
Additionally, there are several employee benefits that one gets by working in Germany. Some of these are social security, pension fund, unemployment insurance, long term nursing care, mandatory health insurance etc.
Even the cost of living in German cities is very low as compared to its neighbours (Berlin has a 16.27% lower cost of living than London). Expenses for a family of four excluding rent would be a shocking €2600 per month. You can use this City Rank guide to help define your priorities and make a decision about which city to live in. In addition, here’s some information about some of the best cities to live and work in Germany:
If you’re particularly interested in the startup ecosystem, then Berlin should be your top choice. According to this research, due to the advent of Brexit, Berlin has now overtaken London to be the most popular city in Europe for founders to start their companies. Not only Berlin, but even Munich ranks within the top 5 cities for startups on a list of 50 cities across Europe. Interestingly Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Hamburg are also on this list which makes it a total of 6 cities in Germany that are popular startup hubs across Europe.
If you’re interested in IT and technology, Munich would be a great place to start as it is one of the largest tech hubs in Europe. It comes 4th after London, Paris and Berlin. If you’re looking to work in the Finance and Banking sector, then Frankfurt is the place for you. Post-Brexit, Frankfurt has become the hub of Europe’s financial landscape and is a key centre of market stability. With over 200 banks and 7000 financial service companies and investment funds, it is second only to New York and London. In addition, it is also home to the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Deutsche Bundesbank, the central bank of Germany.
Germany is also a melting pot of cultures and lifestyles so there’s something in it for everyone – lush parks and cycle paths for the outdoors and fitness enthusiasts, rugged mountains and hikes for those who enjoy the countryside, beaches in the north and an efficient high-speed rail connection between all the major cities to help you commute easily.
Now coming to the all-important question:
Well, it depends on many factors. Here are some of them:
If you’re an EU member state citizen or part of the EEA region, you are already eligible to work in Germany. You can literally start applying right away. If you’re a citizen from a state outside of the EU/EEA region, there are several permits that allow you to work in Germany. Some of these are:
Since August 1st, 2012 university graduates with either a German university degree or a foreign degree that is acknowledged in Germany or a foreign university degree that is comparable to a German university degree may travel to Germany to search for a job. The job seeker visa allows a stay in Germany for up to 6 months. Visa applicants are required to provide proof of sufficient funds for the entire length of their intended stay in Germany. Once you have found adequate employment and signed a contract you may change the job seeker visa into a residence permit for employment directly with the competent alien authority.
This visa enables one to bring their family, partner, spouse and children to Germany. If you are joining your spouse/partner who is living and working in Germany, you must initially be over the age of 18 and have basic knowledge of the German language (level A1). You will be eligible to work in Germany if the relative you are joining fulfils the following requirements:
The EU Blue Card is the main residence permit for university graduates from abroad. It is a simple and unbureaucratic procedure geared to third-country nationals keen to put their talents to use in Germany. Applicants must furnish proof that they have a university degree and have been offered a job that would provide gross annual earnings for at least 55,200 euros (2020). The holder of an EU Blue Card is entitled to take up residence in the EU for the purpose of taking up gainful employment.
In Germany, the EU Blue Card can be obtained only from the foreigner’s offices. Third-country nationals who are eligible for the EU Blue Card and require a visa to enter Germany will be issued a national visa for the purpose of taking up gainful employment. Once in Germany, their local foreigner’s office will issue them the EU Blue Card.
For more information about the different types of visas and your eligibility, you must refer to the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Once you’ve checked your eligibility and you know what visa to apply for, you can start applying for jobs.
Here are the four things you need to do before you hit that apply button:
In order to ensure that recruiters can find you, your CV needs to be on top. Your Curriculum Vitae (or CV as it is popularly abbreviated) is the foot in the door you need and is the first impression that a recruiter or the hiring manager will have of you even before they meet you. And since the first impression is usually the most lasting one, you need to put your best foot forward. But don’t you worry – there are certain rules & tips for how your CV should be structured. You can also use our CV examples, and if you want to create a similarly cool CV, here is a list of the top 8 CV builders you should definitely check out.
After you have created the ultimate CV, it is also important to run a peer check and get multiple opinions on it because while you might think it is a great CV, getting a third person’s opinion will give you insight on how you’re being perceived in the eyes of the recruiter.
While the CV gives a great insight into your accomplishments, recruiters often also visit your social media profiles. The most famous one is Linkedin, therefore optimizing your Linkedin profile can make or break the deal! Your personal brand is a reflection of not just what you do, but also who you are – the mindset, values and opinions you represent. It gives them an early insight into your persona, something that will help them picture your contribution to the organization with clarity.
Customizing your cover letter for each job role is a given, and there are plenty of different sentences you can use to have a unique cover letter. Nevertheless, you also have to know to whom to address the cover letter, as this will help you tailor the content and create a relationship with the hiring manager even before you’ve spoken. You can use Linkedin effectively to research the kind of topics they are passionate about and using that, create a narrative to tell your story and how you will be a great fit for the organization. It will make you more relatable to the hiring manager and leave a lasting impression when it comes to shortlisting applicants.
At the end of the day, all businesses are people businesses and nothing helps you create a personal brand, enhance your own knowledge and find new opportunities faster than interacting with people from your industry. Join online groups and discussions on social platforms like Linkedin or Stack Overflow and start having conversations. More often than not, companies also post their job ads in such groups and you might also catch the eye of your future employer.
So this is a fairly comprehensive guide if you are an ex-pat and are exploring a move to Germany. It covers what some of the major cities have to offer in terms of career choices, the benefits of working here, and an overview of the different kinds of visas for which you might be eligible and lastly, how to navigate the application process.
While this might seem daunting (and I should know, as somebody who’s spent much of this year doing this) you mustn’t let it deter you. Simply start at the top, work through this guide step by step and you’ll have landed your dream job in no time. The effort is well worth it!