Job Seeking in Germany

Lost a job, retrenched? Find out where to start job seeking...

Vacancies in Germany may be for full-time, part-time, temporary or fixed-term contracts. For more information of the different types of contracts available in Germany visit Employment Contracts in Germany.

Jobseekers from outside the EU should first address the issue of residency and work permits - no employer will engage them without the necessary paperwork.

All job applicants need to have a CV (Lebenslauf), ideally in German. Applications are typically accompanied by a covering letter and a photograph, but it is wise to follow all guidelines in the job vacancy ad. Unsolicited applications are welcomed and usually kept on file. Look out for requests for tabellarischer Lebenslauf - which means preparing a CV in tabular form.

Interviews are formal and appropriate dress is required. This is especially important for "suit jobs" and "trendy" jobs, such as marketing and fashion related employment.

Registering with a job centre

If the initial job hunt proves to be unsuccessful, the next step is to register at one of the local job centres (Agentur für Arbeit or Arbeitsamt) which exist in most large towns and cities. This is a free service for job-hunters and employers. They are efficient, although it can take a long time to find work. It may be necessary to wait for an appointment. Those who do not speak German should take someone who can translate.

Anyone (whatever their nationality) may examine vacancies at the job centre, even before a work permit has been issued. The centre may also suggest and/or arrange training courses and, in particular, language courses for non-Germans. The costs for such courses are normally covered by the Arbeitsamt.

Companies frequently approach the job centre looking for candidates, as they too can make use of their services free of charge. The Arbeitsamt will also pay half the salary of their candidates for a certain time period making them very attractive to employers.

When registering at the Unemployment Office, the following documentation will be required:

  • Working status
  • Work permit
  • Residence permit (Anmeldungsschein)
  • Proof that there is no income being received
  • CV
  • References
  • Educational certificates and diplomas

Online jobseeking

Many vacancies are advertised online. The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) has an online site, JobBörse, which allows people looking for work to search for jobs, upload a personal profile and receive more information on finding a job in Germany.

Some other useful websites for jobseekers are:

  • The jobs section of the English-language newspaper in Germany, The Local

Or visit the local city website and follow the link to Stellenmarkt (job market).

Many other agencies also advertise vacancies online, but most of these sites are in German. Links to some of the better known sites are provided via the German Embassy London website.

Other sources of job-seeking assistance

  • The European Employment Service (EURES) has lots of useful information in English and its advisors are there to help EU nationals look for work in any of the member states.
  • Newspapers also advertise vacancies. Jobs are advertised in the classifieds' section of all daily and weekend newspapers and city guides. Jobseekers can also place a "job wanted" advertisement in many daily newspapers on payment of a fee.
  • The German Business Portal has lots of general information in English and a forum where job seekers can share their experiences
  • Jobseekers with specific skills can register with an agency (Personalberatung or Arbeitsvermittlung). Their services are usually free of charge for candidates.
  • Sometimes, civilian jobs with the military are a good start for employment in Germany. For example, the US has quite a substantial presence in Germany and will give employment to American passport holders without a work permit.