How to nail your job search in Germany, according to a career coach

How to nail your job search in Germany, according to a career coach

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Looking for a job in Germany but not having any luck with your applications? Jessica Schüller from Germany Career Coach draws on her years of experience to put together some advice on crafting a winning job application for the German market. Her top tip is: it’s all about getting your labour market alignment right.

My inbox is always filled with messages that ask some version of the following question: “I’m looking for a job in Germany, but I do not speak German and am not getting any responses; what are my chances of getting a job there?”

Let me first say: this is a massive question to throw at someone via a LinkedIn message. That’s because job searches take place in an ever-changing market, and yes, it does depend on your application profile, language skills, and context. 

That’s not to say that there are no patterns or decent predictions that can be made about someone’s chances, but the range of influencing factors on an international job search deserves the attention of someone familiar with the German labour market and what it means to look for a job in Germany as an international applicant. 

The key to successful job applications: Labour market alignment

I’ve worked with thousands of international students and hundreds of private clients from across the globe - many have successfully found work in Germany, others have returned home, and yet others never managed to make the move. There's plenty of noise out there about how to scheme your way into a job in Germany, including people who advise flat-out lying on applications (please do not do that!). 

The reality of a successful job search in Germany rests on labour market alignment. Labour market alignment occurs when your education, skills and experience - otherwise referred to as an applicant profile - align with what the labour market needs are. This requires that you have an understanding of your applicant profile, but more importantly, how your applicant profile can be tailored to fit the German labour market needs. 

The three pillars of career alignment

For some people, alignment is not an issue, and others will need to spend a decent amount of time upskilling or, yes, learning German to be competitive in their field. My style of coaching international clients who want to find their first or next job in Germany includes three pillars: 

  1. A personal career development plan
  2. A Germany-focused job search strategy
  3. A tailored application strategy

Alignment touches all of these pillars and is the first element I review when working with a new client. However, much of the pre-work you can do on your own. 

Steps you can take to tailor your job search and improve your chances

If you are considering moving to Germany for work, are currently on a job seeker’s visa, or are actively looking for work, taking a few hours to go through these alignment exercises will help you gain clarity about your next steps.

When I teach students and clients about labour market alignment and how to use it in a job search, I break it down into three steps: applicant profile, labour market research, and identifying a match. Here’s how it works:

1. Update your applicant profile

The first step of labour market alignment is your applicant profile. You are likely able to list off the education, experience, and skills you bring to the job. Updating your resume and LinkedIn profile is a great starting point, but you will also need to engage deeply with what you are looking for in a job / country move. 

This may sound a bit fluffy, but completing this step with careful consideration will give you laser focus when later developing your application strategy. And in any case, if you are moving your entire life (and family!) across borders, it’s important to understand your “why” first. 

2. Consider the German labour market context

The second step of labour market alignment is understanding the labour market in Germany and within your specific field. There are plenty of online tools and information available to support country-focused labour market research, but much of it is in German. 

Focus on your field by conducting a gap analysis of positions you are interested in - where you compare the skills the job requires with your actual skill level - and speaking with people who are currently working in your field in Germany. I recommend you use LinkedIn to reach out to alumni from the universities you’ve attended who are currently working in Germany. 

3. Work out how you can bridge the gap

The third step of labour market alignment is bringing your profile and labour market research together to visualise how you can bridge the gap and enhance the connection between what you do well and what is needed by German employers. 

This is hard to do on your own, so this is the point at which I recommend you discuss with someone in Germany who knows your field well, or hire a Germany-focused career coach to analyse your profile alignment. 

Start your focused job search

Before you send out application upon application, work through these three steps to determine your labour market alignment. Once you are more aware of your alignment opportunities, you can better tailor your job search and application strategy. It’s not a numbers game in Germany - it’s quality over quantity, and quality starts with determining your labour market alignment. 

This alignment + strategy approach does not offer a flashy, five-minute TikTok transformation for finding a job in Germany and living your best life. What it does do, though, is help you garner insight into whether this is the right move for you, and if it is, how to achieve real results. 

Looking for some extra support in your job search? Germany Career Coach has helped over a thousand international students, young professionals and expats launch and grow their careers through actionable coaching, courses and workshops. Book a Germany Career Strategy Session, or download The Germany Career Start Kit™ for free to get started. 

Jessica Schüller


Jessica Schüller

Through Germany Career Coach, I empower internationals, ambitious expats, and global professionals who are serious about their career launch in Germany and want personalized strategy from a leading career development...

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