Germany - why work abroad?

Country: Germany
Official languages: German
Government: Federal parliamentary republic
Population: 82.5 million
Capital: Berlin
Currency: euro (EUR)
Member EU or EEA: EU
Phone code: +49
Internet code: .de

Why this country?

The largest EU member has it all, from world-class cities to pretty villages and fairy-tale castles, dramatic mountains, deep forests and sandy beaches - and a peerless train network to explore it all in style.

Germany is an industrial powerhouse, famous for the quality of its manufacture and design, especially in motor vehicles and electronics. The country has weathered the economic crisis well, registering a growth in jobs while other EU countries have seen job numbers decline. Jobseekers find work most easily in the south and south-west, while unemployment in the eastern Lander, although falling, is still almost double that in the west. In terms of sectors, there is demand for workers to fill skilled technical and engineering vacancies, as well as jobs in construction, care work and midwifery.

Looking for work?

Jobseekers can get a general idea of the Ger­man labour market from the website of the national public employment service (see the Links section on the EURES portal).

In addition, the website of the Ministry of Eco­nomics and Technology, the Labour Ministry and the national public employment service has helpful information about living and work­ing in Germany:

Other jobs sites may cater to specific profes­sions or regions. If you have a definite idea of where you want to live, look at the website of the regional newspaper.

Tips for job applications?

For written applications, make sure that you create a complete file containing your appli­cation letter, CV, a photo and some letters of recommendation. Make sure that there are no spelling mistakes in any of your documents and that your file looks perfect.

The application letter should comprise not more than one page and the CV should be limited to two pages and include the job contents - or you can add a job profile with your skills and exper­tise. The folder style should be appropriate to the function.

If you send your application by e-mail, you are advised to send your covering letter, CV, photo and letters of recommendation all in one document.

Is it standard to include a photo on the CV?

To enclose a photo with the CV is not compulsory. Nevertheless most employers like to have it in an application.

Is there a preference for handwritten applications?

There’s no preference for handwritten CVs, unless clearly specified.

Is the Europass format CV widely used and accepted?

The Europass CV is often used - besides other personal data sheets. In some cases or some professions, it is more beneficial to create an individual format, to set oneself apart from the other CVs.

A collaboration between EURES Spain and the association of engineers of Zaragoza resulted, in just a few months, in job placements for more than 20 engineers in small- and medium-sized enterprises in Germany and the Nor­dic countries. We also provided sup­port and practical information to those workers - and to the companies where they were engaged - in order to facili­tate the transition. '

Teresa Vieitez Carrazoni,

EURES Adviser, Spain

Making contact by phone

If you make telephone calls to the employer or the HR department, make sure you are always polite and give your full name (first name and surname). Prepare your answers in advance and answer to the point.

If you are considering a spontaneous applica­tion, prepare what you want to say and be sure that you can explain why you are applying in this way

Do I need to send diplomas with my application?

Yes, especially if it/they relate closely to the job profile or the skills required. There is no need to attach every diploma (e. g. from a computer course 10 years ago).

Should I supply references, letters of recommendation or proof of good conduct?

Testimonials that prove that you are an efficient, hard-working employee are a must to convince your potential employer that you should be hired for the job. (The testimonial is a certificate that every employee in Germany has the right to receive from their employer. The simple testimonial contains personal data and information about the type and duration of the employment, with no evaluation. The qualified testimonial also includes the output, qualification and official behaviour of the employee.) You must send testimonials and copies of your diplomas with your covering letter and your CV.

References and letters of recommendation are not widely used. Only in exceptional cases will a new employer contact your existing or previous employer.

For a job in the public sector, you will need proof of good conduct, available from your local police station. For other jobs, you will usu¬ally not know in advance if you need this. The employer may ask for it when you sign your contract.

Usual length of time between publication of the vacancy and start of the job

For jobs without training or skilled crafts and trades, it can be up to a month. For highly qualified jobs, it can be up to 3 months

Preparing for the interview

The employer pays a great deal of attention to the way you present yourself, including your clothing, hairstyle and jewellery, your attitude, body language, eye contact and the way you express yourself Be prepared to persuade the interviewer that you are very motivated to get the job and prove this by asking questions dur­ing the interview.

Always try to find out in advance what the company specialises in and what products it makes, an estimate of the number of employ­ees and their national and foreign locations, in case the interviewers test your knowledge of their company.

In exceptional cases and depending on the job, it may be possible to conduct a first interview by phone. Very few companies use Skype or other VoIP tools.

Dress-code tips

Dress in line with the business and function that you are applying for. For example, bankers or bank employees need to wear a tie. Avoid eye-catching jewellery.

Who will be there?

On average, the interview is conducted by between two and six people. The following may take part in the interview: the company owner or general manager, people in management functions, HR staff and peer colleagues.

Do we shake hands?

Yes, interviewers expect you to shake hands when you enter the interview room.

Is there a typical interview structure?

Yes, the interview is usually very well structured. It starts with introductions to present the representatives of the company and the company itself Then it is the applicant's turn. From this point on, a company representative will ask all kinds of questions.

Towards the end of the interview, the applicant has the opportunity to ask further questions. At the end, the applicant is given more informa­tion about the application procedure and when the employer will let them know the decision. The interview usually takes about an hour, but it may vary.

Bear in mind that some questions can be tricky. Questions about strengths and weaknesses or about inappropriate qualifications need to be answered carefully and diplomatically. Try to present your weaknesses as strengths. For example, if you know that one of your
weaknesses is that you are impatient with your colleagues, tell the employer that you are used to getting your colleagues to meet deadlines or frequently asking for their results.

If you are asked whether you are over-qual­ified for the job, you might answer that it is quite possible that this is the case at the moment, but that you are sure that after you have become integrated in the company, the employer will no doubt find a job or task that is a more suitable match for your qualifications.

When is a question out of bounds?

Germany has anti-discrimination law known as the Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz (AGGs) (general equal treatment law). This law states that questions about strictly private situations that have nothing to do with the job are not permissible. Questions about your general health, a planned pregnancy, financial situation, religion, sexuality, etc. are considered to be strictly private matters

Negotiating your pay and benefits

Contract negotiations depend on the com­pany and the sector in which it operates. Apart from fixed payment jobs, pay can be taken to be negotiable. When you start to negotiate, remember that in Germany pay is expressed in hourly or monthly rates. Questions of pay are negotiated by the executive responsible (zustandige Fuhrungskraft).

Besides your pay, you can negotiate extra ben­efits, such as holiday pay and annual bonuses, provided they are not already included in the company's contract.

Is a trial period likely?

Some companies may ask for a 1-day trial period. It is recommended not to refuse.

How long is the standard probationary period?

There is no general duration fixed in the German civil code, but it is limited to a maximum of 6 months. This should not be confused with employment on probation, which is by nature a temporary working contract (with the probation as a factual reason for the limitation).

Will the employer cover my costs for attending an interview?

Some companies might cover the costs you incur in attending the interview, but there is no rule on this. You can only wait and see if they offer to reimburse your expenses.

When will I hear the result?

If a company decides to offer you the job, it will normally let you know by phone.

Getting feedback and further follow-up

At the end of the interview, the employer should explain the next steps of the procedure and how long this will take. If the period that you agreed on has elapsed without you hearing anything, you can contact them for more information.

How early should I arrive for the interview?

Punctuality is very important to German employers.

last modification: 2014-09-01
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