Apr 8, 2014

Getting a job in Germany

Here's an article I wrote for The Explorer with my inputs for spouses/ dependents/ students and who ever comes to Germany without an offer and has to do the job search in Germany

Much has been said about the sacrifices of the trailing spouse. I agree with all of them. No questions asked. And I also agree it is none of our fault as the trailing spouse that Germany made it tough to integrate. For a trailing spouse, it is the toughest thing to come to terms with the career left behind. I faced this problem when I moved to Germany last summer. I was confident of get- ting back to work just like I had in the other first world countries I had moved to in the past. But I was terribly wrong. For starters I was thrown an Integration Course to complete in the first year which I had no interest for. But after my five stages if grief, I decided to move on with life after all. The suggestions I have for spouses moving to Germany and wanting to go back to work:

Job pays bills! It makes you feel worthy!
1. Learn German. There is no substitute, sorry! Everyone who starts gets somewhere. I have known people who land a job in their field right after a A1 and some who struggle all the way to C1. It is how you snap the language and use it.

2. Complete the integration course if that’s a mandate. The reason is simple. You learn not only German but also get updated with current affairs, government policies, social and basic rights of a German resident. You are in a position to tell a prospective employer why you need Sozialversicherung  (insurance) if they happen to not cover you.

3. Get acquainted with the Agentur für Arbeit. The job center is not just for hopeless immigrants who aim to live off unemployment benefits. The Agentur gave me a reference which I used in my interviews. You can have your educational qualification recognized by the Agentur, which makes a great difference to employers. Unless you interview for an American corporate, most German compa- nies are very old school and stick to the German education system they understand. A reference from Agentur fur Arbeit can work in your favor in building credibility.

4. Format that CV. It is not called resume here. It might even be called bio data like in the olden days but that’s how it is. Sometimes it is easier to accept a system without fighting it too much. For a long time I had my CV in English and in an international format. Two big mistakes. It needs to be in German. So get professional help to translate. And it needs to follow the only format. There is no scope for creativity in your CV format and it won’t be appreciated either . So might as well get the German format and be done.

5. Coming to professional help, I was referred to BFZ, a professional training institute by Agentur für Arbeit. These guys helped me format my CV, write worthwhile cover letters and send applications (which btw, still go out in an old fashioned folder with copies of all your certificates). They gave me industry contacts and referrals for my field as well. This is what you need when it comes to credibility.

6. Offer free Praktikum. It is a German thing that companies test you with either a probationary work day or an internship after they interview you. Mostly both are unpaid. But I encourage you to go for it if it is ever offered to you. And probably even offer a free Praktikum in your cover letter, if you feel you are well out of an internship stage in your career, it doesn’t matter. Still offer it for a day or week. 


  1. Replies
    1. praktikum is like a apprenticeship. learn on job. it is not too different from probationary job or internship with work. internships are strict about taking in only enrolled students. hence praktikum