Some people may already have a job secured before moving to Germany, while others will be seeking employment. If the latter is the case then it is important to know the right ways to navigate the bureaucracy behind applying for that perfect position.
Even if you have a good level of German language understanding there may be some specialist phrases associated with job applications that you didn't previously know.
· Vollständige bewerbung – job application
· Aussagefähige bewerbung – an application including a portfolio
· Lebenslauf – curriculum vitae
· Kurzbewerbung – cover letter
· Persönliche daten – personal details
· Berufserfahrung – professional experience
· Ausbildung – education
· Studium – university
· Schulausbildung – schooling
· Sprachkenntnisse – language skills
· Sonstiges – additional information
It is always a good idea to translate your application into German. If you are not up to the task, then hire a translator to do it for you. If you have done so yourself, then have a native speaker check it over, as they will be able to identify any areas that mark you out as an expatriate with German as a second language.
Most CVs in Germany are around two pages long, giving you plenty of scope to add details, but do not exceed this length.
Despite not including a photo on CVs in the UK, it is a common practice in many parts of Europe to place a passport photo in the top right-hand corner and Germany is no exception. It is worthwhile having it taken professionally as this helps to convey that you have high standards.
Personal details should be found to the left of the photo and these must include: your name; address; telephone number; email address; date and place of birth; age; marital status; and the number of children you have.
This is followed by sections for professional experience, education, language skills and additional information. These areas should be outlined in reverse chronological order, with the most recent events first. Try to include months as well as years for dates.
On top of the company name and position held, it is a good idea to say what sector the firm is in and outline the things you achieved while in the job.
When providing an overview of your education it is a good idea to go into some detail, including your final grade average, as well as the institutions and cities where you studied. It is important to research an equivalent degree or qualification in Germany and state this alongside the original form, as this will help a prospective employer to understand what level you have achieved.
Add any additional information that you think is relevant into the final section. Be sure to include some hobbies, but make sure they are active, such as playing sports or being involved in music or theatre.
The CV should then be signed and dated at the bottom.
Due to the large volume of applications any firm is likely to receive for a position, it is important to keep your cover letter brief and to the point. Make sure the reader will be struck by your appropriateness for the job immediately.
Avoid clichéd phrases and state your reasons for being interested in the job and how you are qualified for it. Match these to the job description to ensure you have covered all the points.
Applications can be quite long and should include photocopies of the certificates for each qualification listed on your CV. It is therefore a good idea to have these bound together for an overall quality appearance and to prevent pages going astray.
Hopefully your application will lead to an interview, which is likely to be conducted in German. If your language skills are not up to the challenge, get in touch beforehand to organise a translator. Even so, it is a good idea to learn some polite phrases to show willing.
Never be late and arrive looking smart. Handshakes and the exchanging of business cards can usually be expected, followed by a small amount of casual conversation, and then the formal interview will start.
Do not interrupt when the interviewer is speaking. Prior research on the company will come in useful and intelligent questions are welcomed. More personal information tends to be requested than you might expect than in a selection process in the UK, so be prepared for this.
Depending on the sector, you may have to wait a number of weeks before you know whether you have been offered the position. This is often done with a letter as opposed to a phone call.