How to find a job in Germany: Tips from an expat
Finding a job as a foreigner in Germany requires a lot of persistence and determination. Emily Rasch writes from experience.
Many people go the route of being sent over with their company, which enables them to have extra help in facilitating the move, as well as a job once they arrive. For trailing spouses, or those who simply want to live abroad, it's often more of a struggle.
First, there is often the issue of needing a visa. Those without prior connections to Germany from marriage, job transfers, or dual citizenships are required to hash through the red tape of whatever visa they are eligible for. People who come from a country participating in the visa waiver program have an advantage, because they can move here for up to three months and have their visa changed after their arrival. This can be beneficial in providing a bit of time to find a job that may sponsor the necessary work visa.
The second issue is the language barrier. Learning the language will help immensely in increasing the quality of life for anyone. Not only does it make visiting the grocery, pharmacy, and doctor much easier, but it also helps when reading those classified listings for housing and jobs. To be competitive in this foreign market it's essential to have unique skills that help you stand out. Having a strong grasp of the language is an instant way to become more marketable, because many Germans also speak English.
Oftentimes it's difficult to know exactly where your foreign credentials, training, and education fit into the German workforce. The style of schooling here is quite unique and may include: an Ausbildung (vocational training), Apprenticeship, or Arbitur (a qualification for university entrance) with further university degrees. It's often said that Germans are perpetual students due to the heavily subsidized education and university courses.
Rather than feeling disgruntled, it helps to get creative. Consider making a list of things you are good at, your skills, qualifications, and strong points. Beginning with things that you know helps you to figure out industries and companies that employ people with similar skill sets. Initially many English speakers consider positions that utilize their English language expertise by teaching business English or working at a kindergarten. The local Volkshochschule offers courses in a variety of topics which can be confidence and knowledge boosters. It also helps to get involved with networking events often hosted by Toytown Germany and Internations. Another option is to upload your CV to the Expatica job search site.
With no minimum wage in Germany, there are EUR 400 basis 'mini-jobs', which are tax-free. Various shops and restaurants often have signs in the window when they are in need of employees. Depending on the type of job and city location, that could mean earning EUR 400 monthly after working 20 hours, 40 hours, or more.
While mastering German one source to go to for help during the job search is Jobbörse, which is the Federal Employment Agency. They even offer counseling services to help those who are out of work to figure out the best niche for their background. Having a consistent work schedule will not only help to improve your German skills, but is also a fantastic way to build a social network.
Emily Rasch is an American expat from Ohio who loves to travel. Visit her blog at http://munichbavaria.blogspot.com/
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