Starting a career in Germany – 12 steps for a successful start
The following 12 steps given by the Career Service of Hochschule Bremen (HSB) are a guide for international students to successfully start a career in Germany.
- Learn German. More and more international companies are hiring graduates without any knowledge of German if they have a very good command of English. However, your chances of finding a job in Germany are much better if you learn German and work continuously to improve your German skills. Take advantage of the German language courses offered in Bremen.
- Develop your career profile. Do you know what you want to achieve, what makes you stand out, what topics fascinate you, how meaningful work should be for you, and what working conditions are good for you? These are the questions you should be asking yourself. Based on your answers to these questions, you can create a career profile that will help you choose the right job for you (7 guiding questions).
- Research potential employers. Get an overview of the economic development in the region and in the individual sectors (e.g. in the business section of the local daily newspapers or at the Chambers of Industry and Commerce). Once you know more precisely which industry is right for you, it is worthwhile researching directly at the respective companies or using databases such as REGISonline or the Great Place to Work and Make it in Germany portals. Career Gate, HSB's central job and career portal for students, is also helpful. Companies, public institutions and independent organizations present themselves there and publish job offers.
- Find out more about Germany's medium-sized businesses. Medium-sized companies are the economic engine of Germany and provide about 70% of all jobs in Germany – a good starting point for your job search. Their structure is characterized by fast decision-making, customer proximity and a hands-on mentality. The advantage for employees compared to large companies is often that they have a broader range of responsibilities and more freedom to make decisions.
- Don't forget networking. 60 to 70% of all jobs are placed through networking. So it can be very important to know people who know the right people or who can give you the right hint about a job. It is therefore especially important for international students to make contacts in their new environment – this makes life easier both professionally and privately. For example, sports clubs and career platforms in social media (e.g. LinkedIn) are good places to start outside of IGC and HSB.
- Write job applications. In Germany there are relatively formalized guidelines for a job application. It usually includes a cover letter, a curriculum vitae (CV) in table form, transcripts, internships, long-term part-time jobs, and, at the beginning of your career, your last school report card. In contrast to many other countries, a professional application photo is common and usually desired in Germany (more tips for the application process).
- Prepare your curriculum vitae (CV). This is perhaps the most important part of your application, as it provides information about your work history, education, and skills. It is especially important that it is well organized, as the potential employer will want to get an overview of you as quickly as possible (CV checklist).
- Prepare for the job interview. You have been invited to the job interview – congratulations, you have successfully passed the first hurdle! Now you should prepare thoroughly for the interview by researching the company and reviewing your CV so that you can deliver it in a smooth narrative flow. Also, be authentic, friendly, punctual, and dress appropriately.
- Familiarize yourself with the working conditions in Germany. To avoid unpleasant surprises, it is best to find out about the general conditions for working in Germany as early as possible.
- Become self-employed? Would you like to start your own business in Germany? In principle, this is possible, but depending on your country of origin (EU or non-EU), different qualifications and permits are required to start a business. International students can find a detailed overview with all the important information at wir-gruenden-in-deutschland.de.
- Apply for a visa. Visa support for international students who wish to work in Bremen is provided by the bsu (Bremen Service University), which is unique in Germany: The bsu is a joint institution of the University of Bremen and the Bremen Immigration Office and offers advice and support on residence issues to international scholars and students on the University campus.
- Share your experiences. Exchange experiences with your fellow students, other students and graduates. You can benefit from each other's experiences, learn from them and give each other tips.
We wish you a successful start to your career in Germany!