If you find yourself looking for a job in Germany, you should be aware of several factors which will shorten the entire process and in the end lead to more success. As a general rule, citizens of the EU countries can work freely in Germany and do not require a work permit. However, things are more complicated for non-EU citizens, who will require both a residency permit (Auftenthaltstitel) and a work permit (Arbeitserlaubnis). Both of these documents are obtained from the Foreigner's Office (Ausländerbehörde).
If your company works together with a relocation service or has a working relationship with the Foreigner's Office, consider yourself lucky, because the entire process can then take just a matter of days. But if you have to secure a residency and a work permit on your own, then the process can take up to three months (or longer) and involve a maze of paperwork and a considerable amount of frustration and conflicting information. But don't become disheartened. If you are qualified for the job on offer, you will receive the work permit. Of course, before you apply for a work permit, you must first have a job offer. And the actual process of job hunting in Germany may be quite different from that in your home country.
The first place to look for jobs is in the local and nationally distributed newspapers on Saturday - in particular the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Online job postings are also very popular, and the major job boards in Germany are www.monster.de and www.jobscout24.de Another option may be to check with the local employment office (Arbeitsagentur). This government-run facility has listings of job vacancies which can be accessed for free.
Once you find an appealing offer, the next step is to apply for a job. German employers have specific expectations when it comes to job applications.
Resume: The German style resume contains quite a bit of personal information, including marital status, age, number of children and a photo. The last item has come under discussion in recent years, particularly since the adoption of a new set of anti-discrimination laws. But it is still the norm in Germany to include a personal photo on your resume (invest in a professional photograph and not something from a machine at the train station). In addition, your work experience and education details should be organized in chronological order, starting with your oldest job and ending with your more recent employment.
Other Documents: In addition to your resume you are also expected to include other relevant documents, such as educational diplomas, certificates and transcripts, letters of recommendation and anything else which will support your application. All of this should go into a nice German-style folder which you can buy at the local stationary store. Cover Letter: This should be clear, concise and make specific reference to how you found out about the job opening.
Recognition of Qualifications: If you are seeking employment in a technical profession (engineering, medical, care worker, etc.) you will likely need to have your educational qualifications officially recognized in Germany. Depending on your profession, this can be done by the chamber of commerce or a professional trade association. An excellent website which provides more details on this complicated topic is www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de
Recruitment of International Candidates: In contrast to many other European countries, the German economy is strong and the unemployment rate is low. Combined with the traditionally low birth rate in Germany, many experts are predicting a shortfall of qualified workers over the coming years. This trend can already be seen in technical professions, such as engineering, where there is an acute shortage of qualified candidates. As a result, many German companies are now actively recruiting qualified professionals from other countries. For more information about this national initiative, consult www.make-it-in-germany.com