Recruiting 101: Navigating Job Market Frustrations: Solutions for International Job Seekers in Germany

Jan 1 / Thomas Bartelsen
Many international job seekers experience frustration when embarking on a job search in Germany. This article aims to prevent such frustration and guide you away from the common mistakes that can occur when starting without proper knowledge or understanding. It seeks solutions for the everyday challenges international jobseekers face during their application process in Germany and provides practical strategies to overcome these obstacles. 

The language barrier: working in Germany without speaking German

A typical situation is that highly skilled international job seekers come to Germany and do not speak German or speak it to the necessary extent. Often, international candidates face the situation that companies ask for at least B1 or B2 German in their job advertisements. 
So, let's say you are in this spot and want to find out what you can do and how to find English-speaking jobs. Here are some tips on how to work on that

1. Utilize online job portals and their filters upfront: Look for job websites that cater to English-speaking job seekers in Germany. Some popular ones include LinkedIn, Indeed, englishjobs.de, iamexpat.de, and Xing. Likewise, you can look for department-specific job boards. For example, within IT, you can look for ictjobs.de, Honeypot, wearedevelopers.com, devjobs.de, or germantechjobs.de. When you go onto these websites, select filters such as "English" as the language of the job ad.

2. Network online and offline: Join professional groups and forums on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to connect with professionals working in Germany. They may be able to provide insights and job opportunities. Additionally, you can use offline meetup (name of the app) groups. For example, if you are an IT professional, there might be an AWS meetup group in your city. Another excellent way to mingle is to find associations of your profession within the country. 

3. Attend job fairs: Watch for job fairs and career events focusing on international or English-speaking job opportunities. These events may have recruiters from companies willing to hire English speakers.

4. Join expat communities: Find and join online communities or forums for expats in Germany. These communities often share job opportunities, advice, and tips for finding English-speaking jobs.
Lastly, an excellent page is Make it in Germany, built up by the federal government and providing clear and holistic guidance.

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One size fits it all: the spam trap of sending out applications.

Do research HOW the company wants to receive your application

Typically, companies post their preferred way in their job advertisements or websites. Stick to it. The same is valid if you want to send in an unsolicited application. Check out their career website for terms such as talent pool, Initiativbewerbung, or Speculative application and apply there.

Do not use the old CV or resume you've used before.

In Germany, there are specific standards for CVs and resumes. To clarify, a CV (Curriculum Vitae) is a detailed document that includes one's academic and professional history. At the same time, a resume summarizes relevant skills and experience customized for a particular job application. CV templates are abundant; you can check them out on Canva or Lebenslauf.com. Please note that the "Europass" template is a very outdated document that is not commonplace.

Individualize your CV/resume based on the job ad you are applying to

Suppose you have found your dream job. Review the job description's prerequisites, tasks, and language, and tailor your CV accordingly. Highlight every experience or skill that matches these requirements. In Germany, you can state that sending out three top individualized applications is better than sending out 30 applications that are not personalized. That sometimes can be very easy. 

Suppose you are a DevOps Engineer looking for a full-time job in Germany and are checking out Stepstone. You select only the job ads written in English to avoid seeing the jobs where German is likely required. Now, you scroll down the list and can see the competencies listed in the filter as the most common ones. These are your default ones (in case you match them), and when you go to a specific job ad, you check out what they ask for, and if you have that skill, you match it.

One job ad you specifically like requires you to have "Prior software development experience in large software applications, preferably in typical enterprise software frameworks based on .NET, C# or Java."

Well then, obviously, you highlight any software development experience in the above languages and put them down in this structure when you write them down in the relevant job where you did it:

"Software development of project X based on framework Y (in this case .NET, for example) with result Y in the role as (YOUR ROLE).

Applying to multiple jobs at one company


When applying for multiple job positions within the same company, being cautious is essential. This is because there is a possibility that the same recruiter may review all of your applications. To avoid conflicts, ensure that each application you submit, including any accompanying cover letters if requested, is consistent and does not contradict any previous applications. For instance, if you apply for roles in totally different fields, such as finance and sales or other hierarchy levels, you might come off as needy or unsure of where your focus is. Therefore, limiting your applications to a maximum of two per company is recommended, and the jobs should be similar in nature.

In a nutshell


In conclusion, international job seekers in Germany face significant challenges related to language barriers and navigating the formal application process. Overcoming these hurdles requires strategic approaches, such as leveraging English-friendly job portals, online and offline networking, attending targeted job fairs, and joining expat communities. Additionally, understanding and adhering to Germany's formal application processes, including tailoring CVs to job ads and being cautious about applying to multiple positions within the same company, are crucial for success. By implementing these solutions, job seekers can enhance their chances of securing employment in the competitive German job market.

Readers also ask

What are the best cities for expats? Find our article here 
Find a full article here and here on how to find your ideal company (with workplace insights) in Germany. 
How to find remote jobs in Germany: Find our article here.
Is Germany the correct country for me? Find our article here.
How do recruitment processes work? Find our article here.
How can it be found passively by companies in Germany? Find our article here
How do I leverage LinkedIn for my job search? Find our article here.
How does professional networking work in Germany? Find our article here.

From almost immediate one hour coaching, to a self-paced e-learning course, all the way to a six-week guided program, we've got you covered!

These coachings are tailor-made to tackle your unique challenges based on the above obstacles you encounter.

Write your awesome label here.

Quick support

Individual one-hour career coaching

This option provides immediate career coaching assistance such as mock interviews, answering pressing career questions, and CV/LinkedIn profile assistance.

Write your awesome label here.

E-Learning

Transformative Action Process

This is our signature eLearning course.

This is right for you if you have 28 days for change, prefer to work by yourself and commit to your quests.
Write your awesome label here.

Guided
Individual six-week career coaching

This is right for you if you want constant sparring, guided assistance and back-up, and a go-to person along the path for answers to all arising questions.
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