It is possible to find a job in Germany without speaking German. They do have English speaking jobs in Germany. I am the best example for this. It is possible, but VERY DIFFICULT. In the end, it depends a lot on your field. If the German market is lacking of expertise in your field, then good for you! For example, Germany is always looking for engineers. There are not enough local people studying in the engineering field. Therefore, you can see a lot of foreign engineers who are working in Germany. Many of them are coming from India. I know many engineers who did not speak German when they started working here. So it is totally possible.
If you are in a general field like me, then it can be more difficult. My study was in accounting/ business major. The German market is not lacking people in this field. Actually there are a lot of German students who study in the business field, since it is considered relatively easier than studying in technical field like engineering. But it is still possible to find an English speaking job in the business field!
My job hunting process in Germany was EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING. I was only looking at jobs, which used English in the job description. Because I was not able to speak any German at that time, it made no sense for me to try to apply for a job which was written in German.
There are some English speaking jobs in Germany. Here are some ways how to find them:
=> Apply directly on the company’s website: This is where I applied most of the jobs. If you have the names of the companies in mind, go to their websites directly and look at the career section.
=> Look for jobs at universities’ websites: Many universities have jobs listed by different companies. Sometimes you can access this list even though you are not studying in that university. For example, I found my job from the TUM website.
=> If you study in Germany, you can ask your university to give you a list of where all your alumni are working at. I did that and got a list of all the companies and names of the positions. Then I googled each of the companies and looked if there were any English jobs listed on their websites.
Send out as many applications as you can
I was very crazy during my job hunting period. I was searching SO intensively at that time. Basically I spent almost 10 hours a day only searching for jobs. I was really stressed out. Because I was so afraid that I couldn’t find a job before my visa expired.
I sent out more than 100 applications in a couple of months. I applied to every job which had a job description in English and was relevant to my study. Even if the job description mentions that you need to know some German, I would recommend you to still try to apply for it if the job description is in English. (The final job I got also required German in the English job description, but they decided to take me in the end even I did not speak German).
The frustrating part of my job hunting process was that for most of my applications, I didn’t receive any response. For the other parts of them, I got many refusal emails. In the end, I got only 3 interview chances. I was so excited every time when I got an interview.
My first interview
The first interview I got was from a medium-sized company in Berlin. It was an accounting role. I was invited to the office for a personal interview. When I arrived in the office, I was arranged to meet with the boss. When I met him, he was so shocked that I could not speak German. Well, their job description was in English and it did not mention that German was required. My CV stated that I could speak Chinese and English. But obviously they just supposed that people could speak German when they came for the interview.
So the boss asked me how good my German was. My German was so bad that I couldn’t introduce myself. He told me that it would have been okay to give me a job which only required English reading and writing. However, I wouldn’t be happy working there if I could not speak German because all the colleagues were communicating in German and I would feel left out. Therefore, I did not get this job offer.
I was so sad and wanted to cry after this interview. That was my first interview in Germany and it took me long time to prepare for it. I had so much hope in it. I was desperate.
My second interview
It was a big international company with headquarter in Canada. I was applying for a finance role. The job description was in English. I got my first phone interview. The interview was in English and all went well. The HR seemed to be happy about me and told me that they would definitely inform me the next step latest in the following week.
However I had never heard back from her afterwards. I sent an email reminder. She told me she was still waiting for feedback. I waited for some more time and asked again for the status. And until now I have never heard back from them.
I was actually very mad about this. This was just really unprofessional from my point of view. It was okay if they did not want to employ me. But they would need to decline my application, not just completely ignored it. I had a lot of hope in this interview since I thought the interview went pretty good.
My third and last interview
I was applying for an internship in a supply chain role in an American company. This time I got first the phone interview with HR, then phone interview with the manager. Everything was in English. All went well and I got the internship offer. I was SO happy. This helped me so much financially. It was a six month internship. After that, I was able to stay in the same company for another six months to write my thesis. I got a permanent job offer afterwards, in my field “finance”. I wrote about my interview for the permanent job offer in another post.
Lessons learnt from all these:
(1) Apply for every job that you are eligible, not only the dream job in your field
For me, my ideal job would be in the finance/accounting field. Because this was the major in my study and I love working in this field. However, during my job hunting, I tried to apply for everything that I was eligible to apply. For example, supply chain, customer services, marketing, etc. These were not really my dream jobs. However, I applied to everything in order to increase my chance of getting a job. Those jobs required a general business degree, which I had and I was meeting the requirements.
The fact is that it is difficult to get employed at the first place. But if you are already employed, it is relatively easier to change job internally within your company. That was what I did. My internship was with the supply chain department. When I graduated, I applied to a finance job in the same company and in the end got the job. If I would have been very strict and only applied for a finance internship at the beginning, I might not be able to get my finance role now in this company.
Note also that when you send out applications to many different positions, do not use a generic application. You should always tailor-made your application to each job based on the job requirement.
(2) Job hunting and learn German at the same time!
Even though I was lucky enough to find an English job in Germany, it was one of the most challenging things I faced in my life. If you are able to speak German, you would have a MUCH better chance. Many American companies here do not require you to read and write in German at work. But to communicate with your colleagues, you would need to be able to speak and understand German. So you would need an intermediate level of German in order to get those jobs. Therefore, try to improve your German as much as you can. Even though you are not perfect, but just be able to communicate in German will increase your chance dramatically to find a job in Germany.
The best is actually to take some intensive German class before your study/ work really starts. I described this in my other article here. Once your study or work starts, it is much more difficult to find time to focus on learning German. I have tried countless methods to learn German. If you are interested, check out my 10 fun ways to learn German as well.
(3) Make good connection with your professors
If you study in Germany, your professors can help to write you a reference letter, which will be useful for job hunting. Some professors have connections with companies. They may be able to recommend you to companies which are hiring. With a recommendation, you will have a much better chance to be hired.
(4) Register in Linkedin and XING
(5) Don’t give up!
This is my last and most important point. During this painful job hunting process, you will feel extremely frustrated and desperate many times. You may think about giving up and going back to your home country. It is normal to feel that. I have a very good CV in my field and I am sure I will find a good job pretty easily when I am back to my home town Hong Kong.
In Germany, it was very frustrating that I received so many refusal even with my qualification. I was alone and many times I wanted to cry. I felt like I was never going to find a job here. I still remembered, once I talked with my professor, he asked me what my plan was after graduation. I told him that I really liked Germany and would like to find a job here.
Then he was like, “I wouldn’t say that it is impossible, but it is almost impossible. Why would any company want to employ you, but not just someone from Germany?” It was devastating. I was both angry and desperate. Why would my professor say that to me? Maybe he was just trying to make me face the reality. In my opinion, it was enough that he did not want to encourage me. But it was not necessary to discourage me like this!
And see, he was not right! I did find a job here. So do not listen to the others! Believe in yourself. If you also give up yourself, nobody can help you. You need to be confident that you can make it! Quitting my job in Hong Kong was really scary for me back then and I have struggled a lot before making this decision. But now I can surely say that this was the best decision in my life!
Are you currently looking for an English speaking job in Germany? What is your experience in searching jobs in Germany? Leave a comment here to share your experience!