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Finding your first job in Germany

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Germany is a promising place for young expatriates. It offers a high standard of living and many job opportunities for skilled workers. In fact, Germany now ranks as the second most popular immigration destination in the world. It has the largest national economy in Europe, and is ranked fourth on a global scale.

Germany's unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the EU at 5.7% and it holds the lowest youth unemployment rate of all EU member states at 6.9%. The country has one of the highest labour productivity and a highly skilled labour force. Germany has regained its competitiveness and attractiveness.

The most promising fields of activity

Generally, there is a high demand for skilled workers in engineering, IT and the healthcare sector, with numerous job openings in education, sciences, research and development, as well as in medical services. Most job opportunities arise in the service sector. The automotive industry, export and agriculture have been flourishing working sectors in Germany, although the motor industry is expected to slow down. High technologies, especially regarding energy and environmental issues also contribute to foreign worker’s employment.

German companies recruit more and more foreign workers because of the population decline and the lack of sufficient labour force. Small and medium-sized companies are the driving forces of German industry and recruit more foreigners than the big companies.

The most promising profiles

In terms of recruiting, Germans are rather traditional. Specialization is highly valued and the labour market often favours skilled experts over generalists. The higher your level of qualifications and experience, the better your chances are to find a job. Holding a double degree or speaking several languages could be an asset in the German labour market.

You will have more opportunities to find a job in a trade if you come from one of Germany's main economic partners i.e. France, the United States, Italy and the United Kingdom.

If you graduated from a Business School, you can participate in the V.I.E International Internship Program, especially if you would like to work in the commercial sector.

Web developers and engineers are highly valued profiles in German companies.

Holding a Bachelor's degree is often sufficient and not necessarily a disadvantage compared to Master degree students. The salary gap between Bachelors and Master's degree holders only accounts for 6-10% at entry level, depending on the area of expertise.

It will be much easier to find a job when you speak German. Of course, German language prevails over English in the German business world and you will be able to compete with the local applicants if you speak German. The healthcare sector may be the most demanding concerning language requirements.

Some organizations offer the possibility to improve your German once arrived in the country, such as the Goethe-Institute which provides German courses to immigrants.

Important:

Meeting locals and talking with them is important to improve your German. By asking for information or by sharing your experience you will start to create your own network composed of people who will be likely to help you find the perfect job.

Apply for a job in Germany

As in most European countries, surfing the Internet for job ads and sending unsolicited applications are common ways to apply for a first job in Germany. You should send your CV in German and with a photo – most Germans get them done by professional photographers! Stick to a two-page format and attach a cover letter. You can also contact employment agencies that provide useful help.

Good to know:

Most job openings are in Baden Württemberg, Nordrhein-Westfalen and Bayern.

Wages

In Germany, minimum wages can differ depending on the job's nature, the type of contract, the size of the company, the area in which the company is based and the field of activity. The level of qualifications and experience also contributes to the amount of wages. Generally, wages are higher is west German regions. Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich are the fourGerman cities where wages are the highest.

The average entry-level salary of recently graduated university students is 45,000 Euros per annum. Engineering (with 42,000 to 58,000 euros), medicine (50,000 euros), mathematics and the IT sector (49,000 to 54,000 euros) offer the most promising jobs to young graduates.
You can also expect to earn a high salary if you are planning to work in retailing or in a consulting firm.

Most full-time positions are based on 40 hours per week. On average the Germans work 41,4 hours on a weekly basis.

Good to know:

Once you have been offered a job, you can negotiate your salary with your employer. Many companies offer a tariff wage (Tariflohn), which is the wage negotiated between the employer and the trade union. It indicates the minimum salary an employee can expect, to match his or her professional qualifications.

Useful links:

Jobborse jobboerse.arbeitsagentur.de
Make it in Germany www.make-it-in-germany.com
Toytowngermany www.toytowngermany.com
Jobpilot www.jobpilot.de
Monster www.monster.de
IAB - Institut für arbeitsmarkt- und berufsforschung - The Research Institute of the Federal Employment Agency www.iab.de

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See also

Munich, one of Germany's largest cities, offers many jobs prospects for foreigners in various fields due to its developed economy.
To find a job in Germany from abroad, you can start by visiting general and specialised job websites and register with online recruitment agencies.
Düsseldorf is an important financial and business hub in Germany. It provides various career prospects to qualified foreigners.
Skilled foreigners wishing to settle in Stuttgart, one of Germany's major cities, will likely find a wealth of opportunity when it comes to employment.
V.I.E, the International Internship Program in Germany: the most promising fields, conditions and procedures.

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