British in Germany

Living in Germany



In this section I can only give you an overview of working here. Please ask your employer in Germany in good time about the details of your employment.

Here's a brief guide to employment law.

Here's a brief guide to income tax.


What's it like to work in Germany?

Management culture in Germany is characterised by hierarchy with strong management.

Germans work on well-thought-out plans, and make decisions based on hard facts to find the safest way in business.

They love meetings which are orderly and efficient and usually follow a tight schedule.

Discussions are held with the goal to reach compliance and a final decision in Germany.

Time is a well-defined concept therefore people are very punctual.

Practice your hand shaking you'll need it!

Set your alarm clock a bit earlier! Germans tend to start early and finish early. Something I still haven't got used to.

If you wish to have a more scientific analysis of German business Geert Hofstede's web site is very informative.


Looking for work in Germany

"I was looking for a job and then I found a job, and heaven knows I'm miserable now." - The Smiths.

There are nearly five million unemployed people in Germany! Obviously it is best if you have a job before you come. If you are looking for permanent skilled work the Overseas Placing Unit (OPU) can help you, they liase with the job centres and because of this your local job centre in the UK should be able to search for vacancies through NATVACS (The national vacancies database). Alternatively you can write to OPU giving details of the type of work you are looking for.

However, there is a local job centre (Arbeitsamt) in most large towns and cities, it is free for job-hunters and employers. They are efficient although it can take a long time to find work and you may have to wait for an appointment. Most importantly you will need to speak German or take someone with you who can translate. Be warned!

If you want to get a feel for the job market in Germany they do have a pretty nifty web site where you can search for vacancies in their SIS database and there are links to other job seeker sites.

Here are a couple of other good websites to help you in your search for that perfect job.


Applying for work in Germany

The German application procedure is extremely formal. Prepare yourself for questions regarding your current activities, expected wage and the activities of the company. Having relevant experience is one of the main selection criteria in Germany.


To apply for a job here you will obviouslay need an up to date CV (Lebenslauf). It might be worth paying someone to translate it into German.

Your CV can be in the form of a data sheet and does not have to be in full sentences. It should be between 1 -2 pages long on plain A4 paper.

The key focus of your CV should be to persuade the employer to invite you for an interview. Therefore, your CV is a marketing tool, which should be adapted to the market in which you intend to use it. The German CV is always in strict chronological order. The style of writing should be concise, to the point and clear. Make sure that there are no gaps, account for every period, even unemployment.

Your CV must be signed and dated!

In addition to your CV you will need to provide the following:-

1. Copies of all your school reports - special classes, results (photocopies!), college/university info (photocopies of individual classes taken - if applicable to the prospective job), most importanty a copy of your degree(s) higher education result(s).

2. Some prospective employees ask for a recent photograph. Write your name and address on the back of the photo and attach it to the upper left corner of your CV or covering letter (use a paper clip).

3. A business card

4. Copies of letters of recommendation (most German companies realise that as a Brit you may not have them).

Covering Letter

The covering letter should be typed (unless otherwise stated) and start with the name and title of the person who is supposed to be dealing with it. Give a complete and precise description of the position you previously held. Personal motivation for a job is less important in Germany. It must not exceed 1 page.

It should be formal and as brief as possible, but including ´highlights´ (i.e. qualifications) as to why you think you are suitable for the position offered. It should be written in German (unless otherwise stated). State the number of enclosures at the bottom. Make sure you include your address either in the header or footer along with your phone number/e-mail address.

The style should be polite, but to the point. Do not grovel. State that you are looking forward to a job interview and thank them for their time. Sign it and date it.

Overall: include a big self-addressed envelope with stamps or international money order, so that they will return your documents. Some companies are notoriously bad about returning such things.

For more information you can pick up the booklets Working Abroad and Working in Germany from your nearest job centre or the OPU. Their address is:-

Overseas Placing Unit
Rockingham House,
123 West Street,
S1 4ER
Tel: 01742 596051
Fax: 01742 59604



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