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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.


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