Since 2013 I help international professionals to get English jobs in Germany. Over the years I guided hundreds of expats in their job hunt in Germany. Thousands participated in my yearly Expats Career Survey.
The number one feedback that I get: “They say I need to speak German to get a job.”
But is language really what keeps you from being successful? In my analysis of the German jobmarket I realised that the majority of all job openings do not require language.
Sure, there are jobs like medical doctors and nurses where German language is a legal requirement. A lawyer or an accountant won’t get anywhere without reading German law – which is confusing enough for native speakers, let alone foreigners.
But these jobs make up a very small percentage of the available job offers. The majority of all jobs that demand a University degree are software developer, consultants, analysts, sales people, project manager, engineers and manager.
I regulary interview companies that hire professionals for all these positions – and they do a great job in English. The challenge: Only 1% of German companies are so forward thinking that they hire in English.
Most HR departments still insist on fluent German language skills.
Over the years I talked easily to over 800 HR managers. There are the extreme cases where an HR manager insists on “fluent German” – for a sales position that focuses on cold calling corporate clients in France. And the not so seldom case when international candidates were told “German required” by HR – just to discover that the whole department works in English after they talked directly to the manager with my help.
What makes me really sad: I analyse the German job market for six years already. I speak to hundreds of HR managers and department heads. Thousands of expatriates share their story with me – and I don’t see progress.
Here is the thing: In way to many cases it is not “German language”, that holds you back. It’s racism:
Jobs for foreigners in Germany
The German “Institut für die Zukunft der Arbeit” is a government agency. It tested how many job applications the average candidate needs to send in order to secure one job interview.
Here are the results – and my advice on how to deal with this situation.