Qualifications: What can I do for a living?

Your qualifications - whether a degree or job experience from your home country - need to be recognised in Germany before you start job hunting. Find out more about the recognition of foreign certificates in the chapter "Certified copies". If you do not have a formal degree but have extensive experience in a profession, you can have your qualifications checked. You will find qualification tests in English for various jobs at www.meine-berufserfahrung.de.

These tests reveal where you stand professionally. You can take your test result to the Jobcentre and do another longer, more comprehensive test (in German, English, Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, French and Russian) at www.myskills.de. This second test enables the Jobcentre and potential employers to better assess your skills and experience and helps you find a job that matches your qualifications. You can also start advanced training ("Weiterbildung") based on your current knowledge and skills. You can seek advice from the Job centre or the Employment Agency.

Job market: Which professions exist in Germany?

If you do not have a vocational qualification and do not know what career path you should follow, contact a Vocational Information Center ("Berufsinformationszentrum" or BIZ) in your area or seek advice online at Berufenet. There you can read about many different professions, learn more about the typical activities they encompass and the qualifications required for them. The employees in the BIS or the Employment Agency can also tell you in which profession you have a better chance of finding a job in Germany. There is a list of occupations for which there is currently a shortage of personnel in Germany available online- this list is updated as the situation changes in the job merket. You can learn more about studying in Germany in our chapter on the University System.

Job Search: How to find a Job?

There are various ways for finding a job position:
  • Employment Agency

The first point of contact for job hunting is your local Employment Agency in your area. There, you can register as a job seeker and benefit from their assistance and advice. On the website of the Employment Agency, you will also find a job search engine ("Jobbörse") where you can search for your ideal job.


  • Internet

There are a handful of other employment websites on the internet. There you can register and often create a profile to describe your qualifications and experience for the potential employers. Then, these employment websites automatically send you any new job offer that suits your profile, so you do not have to search for new vacancies every day. The potential employers may also view your profile and consider you for a relevant position. Some of the significants job platforms out there are, for instance, ww.monster.de, www.stepstone.de, www.jobbörse.de, www.adzuna.de and the the job search engine of Make-it-in-Germany.de. There are also some job platforms that are specifically set up for refugees, for instance, www.workeer.de, www.jobs4refugees.de, www.jobbörse.de/refugees, www.work-for-refugees.de, www.careers4refugees.dewww.welcome2work.de and social-bee.de (for Munich and Stuttgart). On these platforms, you can find vocational training positions as well as jobs. Some of these platforms will also help you with your application.

Important: Sometimes, one can use different titles to refer to the same activity. So, while searching for jobs on the Internet, remember to try different titles used for the profession you seek. On berufenet.arbeitsagentur.de you will also find a list of synonyms for different job titles.


  • Specific Companies' Website

If you already know which companies you are interested in, you can search for possible vacancies directly on their websites, usually under headlines such as "Jobs" or "Career".


  • Social Networks

Having an account on social networks like Xing or Linkedin can also help you in your job hunting. You can create a profile for free and list your qualifications and professional experience and connect with people from the same field.


  • Newspapers

You can also find job advertisements in local and national newspapers in Germany. There are nationwide job ads on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Frankfurter Rundschau, as well as Die Zeit daily. You can read these newspapers in your local library every day, so there is no need to purchase them.


  • Job Fairs

You can also get to know about interesting companies and job vacancies at job fairs or companies' so-called “open-door days”. There, you have the opportunity to get in direct contact with the companies. You can find some relevant tips on absolventa.de and a list of various job fairs and the date they take place on berufsstart.de. In larger cities, regular job fairs are specifically held for refugees.


  • Counselling Centers

There are plenty of counselling centres where you can seek support in your job hunting. You can find counselling services in your area, for example, at the Youth Migration Service ("Jugendmigrationsdienste" or JMD) and Migration Counselling for Adults ("Migrationsberatungen für Erwachsene "). The staff there speak many languages. You can also contact the "Working and Living in Germany Hotline". The experts there can answer your questions about looking for a job via chat, email and phone in German and English.


  • Internship

If you are not sure which occupation you would like to follow or in case your job applications have been rejected, you can do an internship first. An internship usually lasts several weeks or months. During an internship, you will get to know and try the profession in question and the company- after the internship, you may be able to continue working there. You can read more in our chapter “Internship”.

Application: Which documents do I need?

If you have found an interesting job advertisement, the first step is to apply for it. Most companies require a written application - to be sent either by email or per post. How and when to apply is often mentioned in the job advertisement. Generally, applications are not considered when submitted after the deadline. Sometimes, you can also apply directly online.

Writing a well-articulated application is very important. Usually, the application has to be written in German. In your application, you must describe your qualifications and experience and convince the employer that you are the ideal candidate for the job.

A perfect application consists of:

  • a cover letter (usually not longer than a page) in which you describe your experience and qualifications and explain why you would like this specific job.
  • a tabular CV with a signature and (in principle) a photo
  • your certificates
  • further evidence of skills and references, e.g. from your former employer

If you have obtained your certificates from abroad, you must have them translated in advance. The Jobcentre or the Employment Agency usually covers the costs of translation. Your adviser at Jobcentre can provide you with more tips on the subject.

You can find useful tips about job application on sueddeutsche.de, particularly if you need help organising your documents. You can also seek advice from various counselling centres. You can find counselling centres in your area, for example, at the Youth Migration Service ("Jugendmigrationsdienste" or JMD) and Migration Counselling for Adults ("Migrationsberatungen für Erwachsene"). The staff there speak many languages.

Interview: How do I convince the employer to hire me?

If the company likes your application, you will be invited for an interview. However, your application may also be rejected. If that is the case, don't worry, go ahead and apply for other positions at other companies. If you receive an invitation to a job interview, try to prepare for the interview beforehand. You should have some general ideas about the company and position and know how to answer relevant questions. You can find some handy tips on a successful job interview on sueddeutsche.de. You can also seek advice or apply for an "application training" ("Bewerbungstraining") at the Federal Employment Agency - ask your advisor for more information about this type of training. You can also find counselling centres in your area, for instance, at the Youth Migration Service ("Jugendmigrationsdienste" or JMD) and Migration Counselling for Adults ("Migrationsberatungen für Erwachsene"). The staff there speak many languages.

Application accepted/rejected: what's next?

A few days or weeks after the job interview, you will often receive a reply from the company to let you know whether you will get the job. If you are chosen for the job, It is important that you read your employment contract carefully before signing it. You can learn more in our chapters “Employment Contract” and “Labour Rights”.If it didn't work this time, do not give up! Just apply for other positions and companies. With some luck, next time you might just find the job you like.