Germany is relatively healthy economically compared to many other countries. According to the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit), job vacancies rose and unemployment fell from 2010 to 2011. In February 2011 there were significant increases in jobs in many areas over February of 2010. The logistics sector and export industries had large increases in job vacancies as did the automobile and machinery construction industries. There is also a continuing demand for doctors and healthcare personnel as well as experts in other service sectors that include the hotel and gastronomy industries. This doesn’t mean that other sectors aren’t hiring. There are thousands of vacancies in academics, trades, administration and other areas.
If you want to work in Germany, and think you will be allowed to, there are a number of steps you can take either before or after entering the country. If you are in Germany the search is naturally less strenuous because you can network more easily. However, whether here or not, the process is about the same. There are numerous websites that can be searched for jobs. Another option is checking the help wanted ads in the newspapers, or placing a job wanted ad yourself. Most such ads are found in the Saturday editions of big-city newspapers. The Saturday Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is particularly rich in this type of advertising.
For executives and specialists with sought-after skills, probably the best way to start your job search is with an executive search firm (Personalberatung). The service is usually at no cost for those candidates who are searching for a position. Another of the many advantages of turning to an executive search firm is that you don’t necessarily have to be in Germany when you begin your search.
A third option is the Bundesagentur für Arbeit. It has extensive listings of vacancies, which you can examine without charge even regardless of your current status. They have very good information in English on their website. They even have International Placement Services offices throughout Germany to assist foreigners.
Another option is work with one or more the many temporary employment agencies in Germany. These companies are playing an increasingly important role in supplying workers to many companies throughout the country. If you work with one of these agencies be sure to fully check out all the legalities regarding residence permits, employment contracts, taxes and benefits such as health insurance. (See our article on Temporary Work Agencies)
If a company is interested in you, then you may be required to fill out a job application and submit a resumé (C.V.). German resumés are customarily very detailed and include a complete education and work experience summary. It’s also a good idea to include copies of citations, letters of recommendation and other documents you think will impress the potential employer; and a recent photograph.
The next step is most likely an interview. Prospective employers are permitted under the law to ask questions as to an applicant’s health and criminal record, if any, but they may not ask a woman whether she is pregnant. Employment interviews are formal in Germany. Dress accordingly and don’t get too friendly or familiar with the interviewer.
Though knowledge of English is often a “plus” in today’s German labor market, a reasonable knowledge of German is also often necessary for a supervisory, clerical or sales job.
It is sometimes possible for an American with a tourist passport to find a job with the U.S. military forces in Germany, though the prospects aren't terribly bright. Both local nationals and family members of military people have priority over tourists. Check with the Civilian Personnel Office that is located in just about any community with a substantial U.S. military presence. If you find such a job you can take it without having a residence/work permit.