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Hello lovely readers!
First of all, I would like to wish a happy valentine’s day for couples, an incredible day for everyone who is single and a day full of determination for those who are mending a broken heart!
But today’s post has nothing to do with that… I received some questions about what the job market is like in Germany and if I had tips for people who are looking for jobs. So, I decided to write about it!
I put together a list of ‘frequently asked questions’ and separated them in topics because I thought it would be easier to explain everything in this format. #Let’sGo
1) Diploma validation & profession recognition
Everything I am sharing here refers to my personal experience and therefore might not apply to your case. How you position yourself professionally once moving to a different country is something personal and which requires thinking through because some diplomas are easier to validate and others not so much. This also varies according to where you are coming from and where are you moving to, because of differences in the educational systems of these countries.
In my perception diplomas like Engineering and Computer Science not often require validation and even when they do, the process is simple. This happens because there’s a shortage of these professionals in Germany.
I wanted to clarify that since both my husband and I have diplomas in electrical engineering, acquired in Brazil. And to be completely honest, unless you studied in a world-wide renowned university, no one really cares about where you went to school. Your work experiences will tell more about you than your diploma.
When we decided to move to Germany, both of us intended to work for companies
and not as freelancers. In this case, it is not mandatory to validate your diploma, because your employer will be responsible for your work.
A lot of people ask me if we validated our diplomas before moving and the answer is no. The process for that is quite expensive and in our case it is multiplied by two. When looking for jobs in Germany we used digital copies of our original diplomas, which were written in Portuguese. If yours is written in English you have that in your favor. 😊
Despite this, I can briefly tell you how this process works and give some suggestions if you are interested. If this is not your case, skip the next paragraphs and head straight to item number 2.
The diploma re-validation process consists of: translating, “apostilling”, presenting and paying. I will explain what that means below.
What should be translated to German?
Your diploma, your academical transcript and your curriculum. You also have to present a copy of your residence permit (either a copy of your passport if you are an EU citizen or a visa). Important: make sure these are translated by a certified translator.
What is ‘The Hague Apostille Convention’?
The Apostille guarantees that a document issued in another country is valid. Even if your diploma is translated, it still needs this stamp.
Where to present these documents ?
The office responsible for the diploma validation process is called “Dezernat für gewerbliche Wirtschaft und Förderung, arbeitsmarktpolitische Förderprogramme” in German, which means something like “Department of Business and Labor Market Policy Support Programs”. It is s state office that regulates the job market here. As Germany is composed of several federal states – each state is autonomous and has its own government – each state has its own Dezernat. We live in North Rhine-Westphalia and here, the process is done at Dezernat 34. If you are looking for a job in other states and do not know if the process is the same or where to find this office, Google “Genehmigung zur Führung der Berufsbezeichnung „Ingenieur ” + the name of the state where you will live.
How much does it cost ?
In NRW it costs € 200 to get an engineering diploma re-validated and this amount must be paid once you deliver your documents at the at the Dezernat for evaluation.
Addendum: this only applies to engineers who want to work in Germany. If you need to validate your diploma because you are applying for a masters or doctorate, you also need to validade your degree but the process is different. If that’s your case, you can find everything you need here.
Another very common question I am asked is if we both speak German and the answer is no. I speak Portuguese and English, my husband speaks Portuguese, English and German. By “speak” I mean “being fluent” and “communicate perfectly in this language”.
One of the reasons that led us to look for a job in the region of Cologne, Aachen, Dusseldorf and such, is that most international and technology companies are here. This means that not only engineering opportunities are here, but also companies that do not require knowledge in the German language.
This was especially important for me, as I have no command of the local language. Being fluent in the language of the place where you will live is always better, but for Germany I say that it is not mandatory. What is mandatory is to be fluent in at least one of the two: German or English.
Despite this, I think it is important to draw attention to two things. First: you need to reflect on the activities of your profession, because if you need to deal with customers or suppliers and they are German, this language will be essential for your day to day. If your role involves only internal procedures, it is possible to work in English.
Second, Germany receives immigrants from around the world and some of these people will be your competitors in the search for jobs. Depending on the origin of these professionals, they are likely to have studied English at an early age or to have English as their mother tongue. Therefore, it is essential that your resume or cover letter
I will talk about this in a minute make it clear what are your other differentials.
3) Tools to look for jobs
Linkedin is your main ally. If you don’t have a profile yet, create one. If you already have it, make sure it is up to date, with an appropriate photo, qualifications and certificates that you have. Another service that is widely used in Germany is Xing. It’s purpose is the same as Linkedin: having a CV online. Whenever you apply for a job, be sure to include your profile link for one of these two networks because HR will look for it.
Some companies advertise their vacancies through Linkedin and Xing, but there are three other job search tools that I recommend: Monster, Stepstone and Indeed. These three allow you to create a digital CV but you can also upload it.
In my experience, there’s such tool as the best tool to find job opportunities. The question is which one will work best for your type of search.
The three websites allow you to search by job title, field, city, all of these together or a combination of them. As you use it, these tools will also track your search pattern and suggest vacancies based on that.
My order of preference is: Indeed, Stepstone and Monster. Although Monster has a lot of cool articles on how to put together a resume and how to write a cover letter, most vacancies listed on Monster are for German speakers, which is not my case. Among the other two, I prefer Indeed because I often research on my phone and I find their app better than Stepstone’s. But you may have a different experience.
When you find a job ad that is interesting, it is possible that the portal will direct you to the company’s website and you will have to fill out a form there. It may also be that there is an option to apply through the portal itself or through Linkedin, Xing or by email. There is no rule. So, my suggestion is to have all these tools at hand.
4) CV and cover letter
Once you have found a job ad you are interested at, you will need to apply and for that you will need to submit your CV and a cover letter
in addition to your diploma.
The CV standard used in Germany has all the information arranged in a table, like this model here.
Two pieces of information that I recommend writing in your CV are: work permits and hobbies. If you have a European passport os a visamake sure to write that in your CV.
Inserting hobbies is a personal recommendation. In my opinion, it helps to establish a little bit of your personality and can help the hiring party to decide if you fit the profile the company is looking for, but this is not mandatory.
One thing that is mandatory is to sign the CV. So, sign a piece of paper, take a photo with your phone and paste that photo at the bottom of your resume. Oh, having a picture of yourself in your CV is also essential!
Another thing you need when applying is a cover letter. This document will tell who you are, why you deserve the job and talk a little about your professional and personal experiences.
Please make sure not to write a draft of the bible! Both the CV and the cover letter must have a maximum of one sheet each, ok?
5) Stages of the application process
Finally, I would like to describe the hiring process here in Germany. There are four main steps you will go through: a test, an interview with Human Resources, an interview with your manager-to-be and an interview to discuss the employment contract. Some companies will have these four stages, others less and others more. The waiting time between one stage and another is between 2 and 3 weeks, which means that each application process can take up to 3 months. Consider this in your planning!
The test is common in multinational companies. The purpose of this step is to verify that you meet the minimum requirements for the position and how aligned you are with the company’s values. The test may have logic questions, technical questions regarding your field of expertise, a set of questions about your preferences or all of that mixed up.
Depending on the result of this step, someone from HR will send an email, making an appointment for the next step, which is an interview. This email will explain whether the interview will be in person, via Skype or phone. In this interview, you will talk about your CV, explain your skills and activities from your past jobs. Some common questions in this step include: “how do you deal with criticism”, “do you prefer to work alone or in a team”, “tell me one of your qualities and a flaw” and “how would your friends describe you”.
There are several articles on Monster about these questions and what each answer says about you. I suggest that you practice these responses, as the interview might not be in your mother tongue. If the job ad does not detail any salary information, the interviewer may ask what your salary expectation is. You can answer that you prefer to receive a proposal, but it is always better if the number comes from you. Feel free to offer a range instead of a fixed amount.
By the way, when talking about salaries, it is important to know that, in Germany, we speak of annual salary instead of monthly and that this amount is before taxes. So, if the offer is € 42000, it means that you will receive € 3500 per month and that taxes will be deducted from this amount.
The next step is an interview with a manager, either your team lead, a department director or even the president of the company, depending on the size of the company. My husband works in a small company and his interview was with the owner himself. Just like in the previous phase, this interview can be in person, by phone or Skype and you will also receive an email with instructions.
At this stage, the interviewer will have information about you, because HR will have presented your profile by now, so the questions will be focused on the activities of the job itself. These questions may involve how much you know about industry-specific regulations, whether you have worked with certain tools and what were your past jobs like.
You can ask Goolge-the-wise for help and search what are the most common interview questions of your field. But again, it is essential that you practice how to answer these questions since the vocabulary is very specific. If you take forever to get to your point or if the interviewer can not understand your argument, this is likely to disqualify you from the process. Considering your might be nervous, practicing beforehand is a big help.
If none of the interviews so far have been in person, the last one will be: presentation and discussion of the employment contract. You will receive a contract that can be “open end” or be due in one or two years. At this stage, the employer will present the working conditions such as start date, salary, working hours, how many vacation days you will have per year and so on.
That’s it for today!
I tried to summarize it, but I guess it’s just a lot of information. If something is not very clear, leave your questions in the comment section!
I hope this gave you useful insights & I will see you on my next post 😘