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Applying for a Job in Germany

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Have you found an exciting job offer? Then it’s the time to start applying. Your first step is to send your application documents to the company. After that, the company would, hopefully, invite you for an interview. You could find out the best way for applying and present yourself here.

Application documents

In Germany, the most known way of doing things is to send your own application documents – printed – in a special application folder by post. However, even more companies also signalize in their job offers that they will be glad to receive applications online. In this case, you could send your own documents in a PDF file. However, regardless of whether you apply by post or online, the documents and information that go to build up your application are the same:



  • Covering letter: In your covering letter, you should give the company a first impression of yourself. You can explain why you are interested in the post and you can describe your own strengths. In your covering letter, try to express yourself convincingly to set yourself apart from the other applicants.
  • Curriculum vitae: In your CV, you can describe your personal and professional career so far. A CV does not have to be written out in full: you could list the most salient information in the form of a table. Previously in Germany, applicants were expected to include a picture of themselves in their CV. However, depending on the company this is no longer necessarily the case.As a rule, CVs in Germany are not written in strict chronological order. However, the most newest professional experiences are usually placed at the beginning right under your photo. Divide your CV up into these categories:
    • Personal information: name, address, contact details
    • Professional experience: in which companies have you already worked for? What does your work there consist of? You should list that information in chronological order. Start with your most newest professional experience.
    • Education: which universities and schools did you attend? What were your final degree? What subjects did you study? Have you ever completed a vocational training course? Or, have you done any continuous high education courses? You should list this section chronologically also, with the most newest qualification first and your highest school education at the end.
    • Language skills: what languages you can speak? How fluent do you speak them? In Germany, the following terms are very often used to describe this: “Muttersprache”, or mother tongue; “verhandlungssicher” or on business fluent (excellent skills); fließend, is meant that you speak the language currently (sound knowledge of this language); and “Grundkenntnisse”, or basic skills (beginner). However, it is more recommendable to refer to the norm of the Common European Reference Framework for Languages (CEFR).
    • Special interests and aptitudes: For example, do you have any special computer experience that are important for your work? And what are your hobbies.



  • Certificates: Finally, you can include your most important certificates in your application. Examples of these include certificates received during your vocational training, as well as your school-leaving and university degree. If you have any references from your previous employers, you can include those too. Do not send any originals, only copies. This is because very often, the documents aren’t returned. In normal circumstances, an ordinary photocopy will do. You only need the officially certified copies if the company asks for this explicitly. Important: it is advisable to have your certificates translated into English or German so that the company can understand your qualifications.Please note: The Europass website will give you with helpful information on the formal design of your CV and cover letter.The Europass documents will help you to present a clear picture of your skills and qualifications to enhance your chances in the market labour. Companies in Germany, however, like your documents to be personalised. Therefore, your best bet is to use the Europass CV as a beginning point and adapt it to your personal requirements
    • Download a Europass CV template here (Word format)
    • Europass will also give you with filled-in CV templates in 26 languages.
    • You can also download a Europass application guide book with the five most important instructions for composing a good-quality CV.
    • On Europass you could directly compose your CV online in a uniform format in English or German.
    • The Europass skills passport will let you provide a comprehensive picture of your qualifications and skills. You can include explanations regarding certificates and reports, photocopies of evidence of work and documents you have done. The skills passport would also let you indicate your knowledge of foreign languages. Using the online editor, you could compile your skills passport and link it with your Europass CV, for example.

In your application process, a convincing cover letter is as important as your CV. On the Europass pages, you could find out about formal requirements for a cover letter, too.




 

Getting your qualifications recognized

What occupational qualifications do you have? This is often a key question for companies in Germany. You are no doubt able of answering the question. However, the qualifications obtained in your home country are often not comparable with German qualifications, or they are called something else. In that case, German companies will find it difficult to judge your application. This could be an opportunity for you to score points: find out for yourself whether your qualification could be or must be checked for equivalence, and to which German reference profession it corresponds. You could then include the information in your application right away. You can find out more about “Getting your professional qualifications recognised” here.



The Interview

The company is interested of your application and may has invited you to an interview – congratulations, you have got one important step forward. The job interview offers you and the company a chance to make acquaintance with one another. In most cases, you will meet up the personnel manager and the line manager. They will probably ask you questions about your CV, your expectations of the salary and job, as well as about your aptitudes and interests. The interviewers may also want to see how well you speak English or German. In many cases, they will ask why you want to work in Germany and what you expect from living and working in Germany.

There are lots of things you can do to prepare for these interviews. For example, find out about the company you want to work for, in advance. Also, prepare a couple of answers about your aptitudes, weaknesses and strengths. You can do this by reading your CV through again and writing a couple of keywords by every point, for example. You can also think about the questions that your interlocutors might put. This is the way of showing that you are interested.




Besides what you say during the interview, a couple of other criteria are important too – no question the same all over the world. Be punctual. Your mobile phone or smartphone should be in that case switched off during a job interview. Also, you can come along wearing appropriate clothing: women should simply wear a trouser or dress suit, men a suit together with a shirt and tie. However, you need to take the particular circumstances of specific sectors into account.

Not living in Germany

In Germany, the companies usually pays the costs of job interviews. If you are travelling from abroad, ask whether all your costs would be paid in this case too. Also, ask the company whether you can be interviewed over the phone or by video-conference. If the company still rather get to know you personally, ask whether you have to pay the travel costs yourself or whether the company will take them.

Non-EU citizens should also find out what entry requirements apply to them. A visa is available that permits you coming to Germany for 6 months to search for employment. All related costs are your personal responsibility. more



Assessment centre

For highest-ranking positions – management jobs, for example – companies often use assessment centres. This is a special kind of selection process. Here, the proposer is asked to perform certain tasks with other applicants. For example, you might be asked to discuss themes as a group, do role play or give a presentation. This is a way for the company to find out how you approach problems, cope with stressful situations and use your soft skills.

To conclude: the final decision

Some time later, the company would let you know whether or not you have got the job. Many companies will notify you after just a few days, others just after a few weeks. If the company wants to recruit you, once you have accepted its offer it would send you a work contract. If you agree with the work contract, sign it and return it to the company. You can find out what to look out for in your work contract here.




See Also: Visa, Your Ticket to work in Germany

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