Part One: A Guide to Finding a Job in German Europe
or with a German firm anywhere
With resources and links, plus
Five Questions you need to ask yourself!
German careers or jobs fall into several categories. First, there are positions that require strong ability in German with a company in Germany, Austria or Switzerland. This category may also include a job requiring good German and/or bilingual skills within a company doing business in the US, Canada, Mexico or elsewhere.
Secondly, there are jobs that can be done in English in German Europe. This category would include teaching at Berlitz or a US Department of Defense school in Germany (an ever-shrinking opportunity) or working for a company whose primary business language is English, even in Germany, such as Hewlett-Packard.
Then there are German companies abroad. One should also not forget that German, Austrian and Swiss companies are found all over the world, not just in Germany. You could work for Volkswagen in France, the US, Mexico or many other places around the globe. However, if one of your goals is to experience the German language and culture, then obviously a position in Germany is preferable to one in the US.
Location, Location, Location
There are jobs and there are jobs. Most minor and many major positions are filled by recruiting German, Austrian or Swiss nationals, or at least people who are already where the job is. It is sometimes possible to find a German job from the US or elsewhere outside of German Europe and even have your travel expenses paid, but this is a rarity. If you are already in German Europe, you may have a better chance of landing a job. (But "know before you go" - see the embassy and consular links on our links page for work permit and other info.) In any case, it is best if your company can handle all the red tape and legalities involved when a foreign national takes a job in Germany. There are also relocation services that can help with this if you don't know the ropes yourself. (Yes, we have links for that, too.)
The German unemployment rate (Arbeitslosigkeit) has remained at a fairly high level over the last decade. It is almost impossible for a non-German to get a job in Germany unless s/he can prove that it can't be done by a German national. In certain fields, such as computer science or information systems (Informatik), "green card" foreign workers have been imported, but this practice is still uncommon.
The reality of searching for and finding a suitable position in German Europe or with a German firm means two main things: knowledge and planning. Too many times, job seekers have unrealistic expectations. Often they overestimate their language skills and underestimate the level of competition. Certain jobs require a high degree of language mastery, while others allow for more leeway. Another danger is ignoring culture shock. That's why we also offer links to culture-related sites.
For getting most German jobs, it is your ability in a field computers, teaching, advertising, etc. rather than your German skills that will be the biggest factor in a successful search. But all other things being equal between you and another candidate, it is the person with the best language skills who usually gets the job.
What do I need to know? On the next page we summarize the items you need to get answers for, and show you where to find those answers.
Also see: Business German (Contents)
German for Beginners
Our free online German course.