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Finding the right job for you in Germany

Despite a low number of expats in the country, the good news is there are excellent opportunities for the right kind of person in Germany.

The government is actively requesting applications from professionals in medicine and caregiving, with a particular demand for those experienced in the geriatric and nursing professions. In hospitals, in fact, there are reportedly only 3 applicants per 10 jobs. Similarly, there are shortages in the areas of IT, engineering, and STEM subjects, (namely science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Despite an overall lower rate of unemployment than most of the other European countries, traditional industries such as mining, construction, and shipbuilding have suffered in recent years. In contrast, jobs in the service industries are on the rise.

If you think you have the right qualifications and professional experience in one of Germany’s skills shortage areas, it’s also worth thinking about where you would like to live. There are regional differences that are worth exploring, and urban areas more prosperous places to find work.

The right qualifications

Since April 2012, Germany’s rules on equivalent professional accreditation mean that if any training you received in your home country matches those in Germany, you’re allowed to practice your profession without further bridging qualifications being required.  And if you completed your medical education outside of Germany, but your training is equivalent to that in Germany, you're eligible to receive a medical license in Germany regardless of where you're from.

This is achieved through Germany’s qualification recognition scheme, which is mandatory for some restricted professions such as medical and legal and for some manual trades too. Skilled workers in other areas may choose to get their qualifications formally recognised in order to improve their chances of gaining the right employment and achieving a higher salary. The process will cost between 300 and 600 Euros. The application process varies according to your profession and level of qualification. For more information and an application portal, see the government sponsored Making it in Germany page.

Matching jobs and people

This government sponsored website is also a valuable resource for those looking for employment, with links to companies seeking to hire. Divided by industry area, it lists over 25,000 vacancies and there is a hotline for prospective applicants. It’s also worth looking at the German Federal Employment Agency (BA) website for listings and further help.

If you don’t fancy going it alone, many expats seeking a job in Germany register with an international employment agency such as the EURES network, so it’s worth doing your research. 

If you don't wish to apply for a traditional salaried position, but would prefer to set up a business in Germany, you can apply for a residence permit for self-employed business purposes. This visa is valid for three years and can be extended if the business is successful. You need to prove that the company will fulfil a need in Germany, benefit the country economically, and contribute to innovation and research. Finally, it must be entirely financed by a bank loan or your capital. When you apply, you’ll have to provide evidence of all this, plus details of your pension provision if you're over 45. And bear in mind that the mandatory health insurance regulations in the country dictate that if you have no employer, you will need private cover.

Of course, one of the best ways of moving to Germany to work is starting employment for a large multinational company with offices in the country and then applying for a transfer. This means that the company does the leg work and the paperwork for you.

Permission to work

The rules for visas and working permits vary according to which country you’re relocating from. Those coming from the EU and the EFTA, are free to live and work in Germany as are those from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Further afield, Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and USA nationals don’t need a visa to enter Germany but will need to apply for a residence permit before starting work.

If you’re relocating to Germany from another country outside of those listed, you’ll need to apply for the necessary visas beforehand, and there are many types available. Being a graduate, having skills in particular areas of need such as mathematics and science, a high level of competence in the German language, and a salary over a set level will put you in good stance for applying for an EU Blue Card. This will allow you permanent residence after 33 months, or even sooner if you meet certain criteria. There are also visas for other kinds of jobs, studying, and being self-employed.

Again, the Make it in Germany website is an excellent source of information about the types of visa available and how to apply.  

Applying for a job

Similar to job applications in most countries, you may be able to apply for certain roles online or could need to send a full CV with a covering letter.

So prospective employers can view your details in a way they’re familiar with, it may be worth researching and writing your CV in the Europass format. There are handy templates and tools on the Europass website and there's even a language passport which may be helpful in reassuring a prospective employer that you're just the person for the job, even if you've come from overseas.

Other employers may prefer to see a Lebenslauf. A formally structured type of CV, it is widely used in Germany.

Whatever format you choose to use, be sure to include details of your most recent roles and achievements (with examples, if necessary). Be prepared to send copies of your formal qualification certificates (but keep the originals). If you have any particular aptitude outside of your standard skill set, for example with IT, include information about this too.

If your application is successful, you will be invited to interview. If you’re not in the country, you may like to suggest a phone or Skype interview in your covering letter. If an offer is made, the company will help you obtain your visa, if needed.

If you're moving to Germany, make sure that the insurance you choose covers all your family's present and future needs. If you’re still growing your family, your needs may change each year, from maternity cover to paediatric care. Call our country advisors for expert answers on the most appropriate solutions for you and your family.

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