Getting a job in germany

Germany has relatively high unemployment, strict working regulations, and getting a job without formal qualifications can be difficult in many areas of work.

Note: Good German language skills are a definite plus. It makes life a lot easier. If you don't know the language it can drive you verruckt, (crazy, mad) but after you get used to the grammar it's easy enough. Vocabulary is a bit easier for English speakers, because German and English are related by the Saxon dialect.


Nationalities not requiring a visa

EU citizens
New Zealand

Three months after entering Germany, you're required to get a residence permit.

For other countries, visas are handled by the local German embassy. For a full table of visa requirements for Germany the Federal Foreign office site has a complete information package.

CVTIps makes a point of advising people to get first hand advice and information from immigration authorities. The German consulate in your country can also help.

Make sure you understand what you're required to do, and what documentation is required.

Agencies can help, but the decisions are made by the immigration office.

Working in Germany: Preliminary visa and work permit requirements

To work in Germany you must first have a residence permit before you can get a work permit. These are obtained from the local Immigration Office (Auslanderamt) The complete details of the requirements, time frames and eligibility criteria are available here:

An electronic system is currently in the process of being introduced to increase efficiency and cut waiting times.

Job searching in Germany

The basic avenues of job search are:

Classifieds: Major local newspapers and magazines, listed here:

Internet: There are various sites, including English language job sites like Xpat and categorized sites like's (Note: There's no shortage of sites advertising jobs in Germany, but you need to find sites which suit your needs.)

EURES European Economic Area employment services network. Available to EEA citizens.

Labour offices: These are local job centres, (Arbeitsamt) catering mainly for lower end, unskilled or semi skilled workers. There's also a special international department for foreigners called ZAV.(Zentralstelle für Auslandsvermittlung)

Recruitment agencies: Some of the international companies like Adecco and Manpower are present in Germany, and may be of some use in lodging local applications.

Career fairs These are the same thing as the US and elsewhere. Bear in mind Germany has a lot of major corporations, and there are some significant career opportunities for those with the right skills and qualifications.

Chambers of Commerce: Because of inter-organizational links, foreign national chambers of commerce in Germany have contacts with foreign companies doing business in Germany. Helpful information, at least, is available.

For professionals, particularly in the sciences, finance and industry, there are also professional networks, contacts, and associations which are potentially very helpful in finding jobs in Germany.

The Federal Foreign Office has a very useful FAQ about working and living in Germany:

Germany- overview

Germany is still suffering the effects of the separation between East and West. The East is still in the process of reconstruction and modernization, and unemployment is significantly higher in the old East German regions, except Berlin.

(The reconstruction has created some job opportunities. But it's been a very slow, tortuous process, and relative to the population, the jobs are thin on the ground in relation to the population.)

German culture and society are also a bit different. Germany has a strong national identity, and the rebuilding of German culture in the postwar years has been a big issue. They rebuilt Dresden, almost brick by brick, to restore it to its pre-firebombing state. The culture is variable throughout the country, a mix of the old and the new. Berlin is the usual center for the modern culture, and Berliners are Germany's New Yorkers.

Socially, Germany is a middle class country, with its own etiquette and mannerisms, some of which are quite formal. (Even the use of the singular word du can be a faux pas, under some circumstances, being too familiar in the traditional usage.) It's a good idea to understand the social customs, and get a good understanding of the community life.

Economically, Germany is one of the powerhouses of the EU, in terms of industry, finance, technology and agriculture. It's an advanced economy, and the demand for people with the right skills is pretty constant. The employment market reflects Germany's expanding role as a major global economic entity. Despite the cost of rebuilding the East, Germany's trade horizons extend outside the EU, to China and Russia, and German technology and science are also big export businesses.

For job seekers, particularly skilled workers, Germany is potentially a very rewarding place to work, if you fit the areas of economic expansion.

There's a problem with unskilled workers, however. In the 80s, Germany had significant problems with issues arising from unskilled guest workers and illegal immigrants. That's one of the reasons for Germany's relatively tough immigrant worker policies, and another good reason to get your documentation done properly.

General advice

  • Start by checking out available jobs, and familiarizing yourself with how Germany's immigration process works.
  • Make direct contact with local information sources about jobs and related immigration processes.

When applying for a job:

  • Make sure you're applying for something where you have a reasonable chance of getting an interview. Do your research on the job as you would for a job in your home country. This is a job application, after all, and wasted time is still wasted time, even in another country.
  • Make sure your CV format is right for Germany. There are always some variations, and supplying the right information is an obvious need.

The job-related paperwork will occupy your time for a while. You really do need to get that done properly. Get advice with every step, or it could be a frustrating experience.

Working in Germany

Germany has high salaries by global standards, and a high standard of living. For foreigners working in Germany, the strong economy and strong euro are double blessings.

In career terms, because of the nature of Germany's economy, your career and experience is world class, and adds a lot to your CV's credentials.

The potential rewards of working in Germany are many. It's also a very interesting, not to say fascinating, place to just travel through, particularly if you know the history and the culture.

Check it out, see what's available, and have fun!