Select Page
Looking for a job in Germany as a foreigner: 3 secrets you don’t know

Looking for a job in Germany as a foreigner: 3 secrets you don’t know

Looking for a job in Germany as a foreigner: 3 secrets you don’t know

Looking for a job in Germany as a foreigner: 3 secrets you don’t know

by Talentese Team 28/03/2019

Looking for a job in Germany might seem really similar to looking for a job in any other country: at least the main steps like writing CV, applying, interviewing etc. are exactly the same. Though there are some “typisch Deutsch” things on every stage that tend to be underestimated by foreigners: keeping in mind these “unspoken” rules might actually make the process of looking for a job in Germany as a foreigner much easier for you.


1. CV: your picture matters

Though you’ll never see in the job description a formal requirement to include your picture in the CV, that’s what all HRs are looking for and something that will increase the chances that your application won’t be left unnoticed. In every photo studio in Germany you’ll find a special service called “Bewerbungsfoto” and you should probably spend 15 minutes of your time to actually use it. Traditional “Bewerbungsfoto” that is German headhunters expect to see is slightly less formal than the one you would make for a passport though it should be much more official than just your face cut out from a blurry group party picture.

“Dress for the role” is an expression applicable to your CV picture – if you’re looking for a senior position in a corporate, don’t hesitate to put your best suit and tie on, and if you’re applying for a job in a startup, some business casual outfit would be a perfect compromise.


 2. Cover letter is not just a formality

In some countries it might be common to just write a couple of standard sentences “Dear Sirs, My name is X, I am applying for Y, please find the CV attached”, but Germany isn’t one of them, especially if you’re looking for a job in a “traditional” German company. Cover letters matter much more as well as all the other documents you’re sending – for example, your certificates, recommendation letter etc. Traditionally all documents should be signed by you or the person that has given you the recommendation.

In addition to your motivation to apply, cover letter should also include the detailed description of the relevant qualities/experience that allow you to justify why you might be the perfect fit for the job. Try to actually profit from this seemingly boring writing – maybe HR doesn’t know much about your previous employer (especially if you have been working for a local firm in another country), so you should both describe your job responsibilities and mention company specifics. 


3. Your German is important only if it’s really good

If you’re considering Germany as a country to work and live in, you have most probably started learning German at some point (or at least have tried to). Would it be seen as a competitive advantage if you have A1-A2 level? Unfortunately, any German that is not a nearly perfect German is basically “no German”.

Of course you can mention a basic German level in your CV, which might be seen as your willingness to integrate and learn. But as long as your German is not good enough to actually use it as a main communication language, don’t try to impress an HR and translate your whole CV to German (while you can actually only say “Hallo, ich heiße John, ich bin 30”). CV in German clearly signalises that you have professional fluency and if you don’t, better submit a CV in English (proofread and without any spelling mistakes).


Do you have chances to find the job if your German is far from perfect? Sure!

At Talentese we offer a lot of English-speaking jobs in companies willing to employ foreigners!

Get started here.


You Might Also Like

What is the best time to look for a job? And 4 more Q&A from a career coach

What is the best time to look for a job? And 4 more Q&A from a career coach

What is the best time to look for a job? And 4 more Q&A from a career coach

What is the best time to look for a job? And 4 more Q&A from a career coach

Marlene Chism

by Marlene Chism 04/03/2019

You’ve asked – we’ve answered! Talentese team of HR experts & partner coaches is at your serve to help you solve career puzzles and to answer to all kinds of questions you have about career development and job search. Do you want your question to appear here? Ask it in Twitter @talentesejobs!


Jan H., Germany

Hi! When it is the best time/season to look for a job?


the best time to look for a job is when you don’t really need the job. The point being, that when you are in a state of “need” or you are nervous because you are struggling to find employment you aren’t able to present your most valuable self to the employer. So, the best time to look for a job is when you already feel successful. However, whether you need the job or not, it’s all about mindset and preparation. The mindset is this: I have something valuable to offer this company. The preparation part is to know about the company. Study their culture and know their core values. Determine what you bring to the table. Come to the interview wanting to be of service.


Felipe F., Colombia

My friend is really upset because he’s sent tons of CVs and got no job offers he would like to accept. How can I keep him motivated and make him try further because he’s seeing no results of his efforts and is really frustrated. Thank you for the answer!


You have to let your friend experience his own journey. You can encourage him, but chances are he might need some expert help with a career counselor who can give him honest feedback about why he is experiencing struggles. Try to remember that even though you feel his pain, it’s not really your job to keep your friend motivated. Just lend an ear, be supportive and encourage him to find the expert help he needs to move forward.


Markus S., Germany

I’ve been working in my company for 1,5 years now. I don’t see a lot of opportunities here, because I’m basically doing the same things I’ve been doing when I just started, but I don’t know if I should look for a new job now or wait longer to create some “consistency” in the CV – in the Uni and after graduation I’ve had only short internships (3, 4,6 months). Would it mean in my future job search how long have I stayed on your first job?


I’d like to challenge you to ask a different question. Instead of worrying about whether you should stay until you find another opportunity, ask yourself how you can create opportunity right where you are. Put together a plan and then go ask your boss for new opportunities. Get crystal clear on what kind of experience you desire. It’s easier to get opportunity if you know exactly what you are wanting. Once you can truly articulate what you want, then you can make a game out of it and start designing your own opportunities. You may ask for mentoring. You may ask to cross train. You may even have to do some volunteer work that doesn’t pay much. In other words don’t ask what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company. See the bigger picture. Make yourself valuable right where you are, then you won’t have to worry about whether or not to leave. You will either attract the right opportunities there, or you will be recruited.


Rafael H., Brazil

What are the best tools to keep my skills updated?


If you were a dentist, I would say attend dental conferences. If you were a carpenter I would say apprentice with a master carpenter. Whatever industry you are in, there are associations you can belong to that will keep you updated and there are always mentors with more experience who are willing to share their knowledge. With that said, the one skill set that will elevate you in every single area of your life is what I call critical skills. Critical skills are often referred to as “soft skills.” The reason I call them critical skills is because the one skill everyone needs is to learn how to communicate effectively. Nothing happens without communication. You need communication to sell, to negotiate, to manage conflict, and to manage others. A great affordable resource is Linked In Learning Global Platform. You can learn both hard and soft skills for a monthly fee.


Marlene Chism is a consultant, executive educator, and international speaker. She is the author of three books: Stop Workplace Drama (Wiley 2011); No-Drama Leadership (Bibliomotion 2015); and 7 Ways to Stop Drama in Your Healthcare Practice (Greenbranch 2018). Marlene is an expert offering two courses on the Linked In Learning Global Platform.

Marlene works with corporate executives and leaders of high-growth organizations that want to stop workplace drama, elevate leadership, and significantly improve strategic relationships. From corporate retreats, to association meetings Marlene’s message of empowerment and personal responsibility is making its way around the globe. For more information visit

Marlene Chism

You Might Also Like

Life as a big playground, with Galina Bankova

Life as a big playground, with Galina Bankova

In this episode of The Culture Voice podcast, we had the privilege to have a great conversation with Galina Bankova, a great entrepreneur on a mission to build something great. Galina defines herself as a “woman on a mission”; the mission to help people find their playground in life.

Communicating your company purpose, with Carolina Fonseca

Communicating your company purpose, with Carolina Fonseca

In this episode Carolina Fonseca explains how important is for a company that its employees are truly aligned with its Culture and Values. She provides very good tips to achieve this, starting by how to communicate your company purpose in a meaningful and authentic way.

Understanding Expats, with Lucyna Bolin

Understanding Expats, with Lucyna Bolin

Being an expat is something really interesting but it implies a lot of challenges too, not only related with the fact of moving to a new country, learning a new language, etc, but also with the intrinsic pressure that expats have to do just well outside of their country.

True motivation at work, with Rico Fernando

True motivation at work, with Rico Fernando

Rico Fernando is co-founder at Bonrepublic, a great tool that helps organizations to increase motivation through a culture of challenge, collective achievements and peer-to-peer recognition. In this great interview Rico shares his great experience as HR Leader and...

Changing your career path? Job hunting techniques and resume tips for career shifters

Changing your career path? Job hunting techniques and resume tips for career shifters

Changing your career path? Job hunting techniques and resume tips for career shifters

Changing your career path? Job hunting techniques and resume tips for career shifters

What should I write? Will they find this interesting? Is this important to them? Maybe I shouldn’t submit this. Maybe this is not for me. Maybe I’m stuck here.

Questions turn to doubts as we try to come up with the perfect resume.

This is true for anybody, but most especially for those who have zero experience or, worst, an unrelated work-experience – those in a middle of a career shift.

Fresh graduates often get the advantage of starting with a clean slate. That they can be groomed into the role.

Career shifters do not.

So, what can you do? Should you just scratch the experience off your resume and pretend it didn’t happen. Come up with some crazy story to make up for that lost time.

NO! You can still make that experience still to your advantage.

It is a case of improving your branding as an employee.


What you did does not matter

…as much as how you did them and the lessons you took away.

The key, I believe, is to focus on the skills and behaviours, not simply on the tasks.

I’ve reviewed so many resumes that focused too much on the actual tasks:

  • I did so-and-so task
  • I prepared a monthly report for my manager
  • I operated the cash register and took orders from customers

Don’t get me wrong, these are wonderful things but they may not necessarily translate to anything in that new role you are applying for.


Transferrable Skills

You need to highlight the transferrable skills you have acquired from your past experience.

A transferable skill is expertise that you can use across a wide range of industries. These are skills and abilities that are relevant and helpful across different areas of life: socially, professionally and at school.

Some call these ‘portable skills’.

There’s a long list of transferrable skills out there but my favourites are:


Effective communication skills are vital in almost every industry. The ability to articulate your ideas and explain them to other stakeholders in the company. This includes being a good listener as well.


Attending and learning from trainings is great, but this can only take you so far. The ability to come up with new solutions by solving different problems that clients face daily is more useful than any training out there. The ability to think analytically and critically is certainly essential in any role.


Although not everyone will be in leadership positions, most roles often have require some aspect of leadership. The ability to take responsibility, delegate tasks effectively as well as set priorities or yourself and other team members is clearly beneficial for any team / company.


How do I let recruiters know this?

Let’s go back to our example earlier but, this time, go beyond the tasks.

  • I did so-and-so task that helped our counterparts so-and-so.

This shows an awareness of the purpose of the task, not just its completion

  • I compiled and analyzed monthly data that allowed me to prepare recommendations for my manager

This shows both analytical as well as communication skills

  • I communicated directly with customers, helping them with their orders and making sure that they have a great experience at our store

This shows both communication skills and some leadership skills – taking responsibility for the customer’s experience


One final tip: Good managers love people who always look for ways to improve on things. identifying concrete ways you have helped improve your team’s current process is always a plus.

Use these job hunting techniques and make sure your resume is designed in a smart way – that’s your shortcut in the career path!

Best of Luck!

Ryan Salvanera is the co-founder and chief tech guy of Wissen Solomon, a consulting firm that aims to create abundance through the empowerment and growth of MSMEs. Ryan is also a personal coach at Coach Rye and specializes in coaching high-performing leaders and entrepreneurs.

Ryan Salvanera

You Might Also Like

Pin It on Pinterest