How to find a job in Germany

As I get many questions around how to find a job in Germany quite often, I wanted to document and share my own experiences to support a bigger audience by making it easily accessible for anyone.

First of all, please keep in mind that this is a long journey. Please be patient and never lose faith in yourself. It also really depends on luck; so try to believe that if something doesn’t happen, it is because a better opportunity will come. Always remind yourself that it is not purely about your capabilities but about the mixture of luck, your experience, your/people’s moods, how you click with them, companies’ changing needs and expectations.

It takes time and energy to make it. Think of the entire process as a funnel, you need to go through all the steps to close the deal and there is definitely an average conversion rate in between each step of the funnel. So, maybe you need to apply for 1000 jobs to get “the one”.

Try to approach every application, interview, feedback and rejection as experiences which will help you to get closer to your goal.

So if you are ready, let’s start with some tips from my own experience which is based on tech and product space.

Before starting with the applications:

Please make sure that you have your CV up to date and that it clearly gives information about your background, previous experiences and achievements. Regarding the cover letter, I feel like it is more helpful to have one for applying for entry level/junior positions as at this point no one has much to offer but a cover letter is a great way to express your excitement and passion for the position and the company which is the most valuable thing you can put on the table. Regarding the cover letter’s content, mine had two parts in it:

  1. My journey so far (my background, experience and how I came to where I am right now)
  2. How I can contribute to the company and the product (why I think that I can create an added value)

So if you are looking for some insights regarding how to structure your cover letter, I can suggest using these two as the main subjects. Also formatting the highlights, most interesting and relevant things in bold in your cover letter helps a lot for the reviewer to see your main focus.

Application:

Which positions to look for:

The first thing is to decide on which positions you would like to apply for depending on your aspirations. This might also depend on your experience level to see what kind of jobs to apply for as you might be more open to a variety of jobs when you are a bit junior and you just want to start from somewhere (for example you might be into product and you can search for “product” jobs in general which might be a product management or a product support role) whereas you can use your expertise and domain knowledge in more senior positions to find the niche and be the perfect fit for it (for example you might already be a PM responsible for search and personalization and you can specifically search for “product search experience”).

In general, have a couple of positions and responsibilities you would like to take in mind and try to be as open as possible for new things as well, as some of the position names might differ from company to company and you might find something which you hadn’t had in your mind before but you liked the role description in the end.

As an addition to these, try to search for what you are passionate about as well. For example, I am really into design thinking and working at an environment which values design thinking was quite important for me, that’s why apart from searching for “product” roles I also searched for “design thinking” to find opportunities requiring design thinking knowledge.

Which platforms to use:

1. LinkedIn: As it aggregates nearly all the jobs available in the market, LinkedIn is the most convenient one to use for job search in Germany as it is in many others. It is also quite helpful as it has the option to set up and get regular alerts for new positions. I found all the jobs I had in Germany from LinkedIn. I don’t have a rationale behind whether one is better or the other, but what I mostly do is to find the job opportunity on LinkedIn but apply for the position directly from the company’s website.

One note regarding other aggregator platforms: I was also previously using AngelList, Indeed, Glassdoor and berlinstartupsjobs.com but they never worked that well for me. I would rather suggest using Glassdoor and Kununu for getting insights about the company culture and salaries. Also note that Xing is more focused on German speaking jobs, so if you are looking for English speaking jobs Xing might not be the most helpful platform.

2. Manual search: By manual search, I mean finding the companies you might want to work for and checking their career websites directly for open positions. This might seem a bit more energy draining but in the end it might increase your chances as not everyone is doing this and you can find some really interesting positions which are not posted on aggregators. For this I have a couple of suggestions for Germany specifically but I am sure that similar things exist for other countries as well.

I would suggest using lists like the below which list for example top tech startups/companies in Germany. Then what I do is basically going directly to the company websites from these lists and checking the open positions to see if there are some I can apply for.

In general try to apply for as many positions as you can and also apply for those that you really liked even if you are not fulfilling the requirements 100% because most of the times requirements are quite flexible and you can get the job if you can be brave and excited enough to apply. As the saying goes “a dumb priest never got a parish” :)

Little hint for keeping track of the applications: It really helped me to create a space called “Work” in my mailbox to keep them separate from all the other emails to keep track of progress.

After the application:

Congrats if you got some interview requests after your applications! And if not please again remember that it is all about the funnel and you are getting closer to your offer with every rejection you get, so don’t be sad or mad.

The first calls are mostly with the HR or hiring manager (who will be your manager if you get this job) depending on the company you are applying for. In general the first interview is quite straightforward where both parties introduce themselves, you tell more about your experience and why you are looking for a new job. It is more like a friendly conversation to explain the position a bit better to see if the expectations of the both sides match and if there might be a good fit for the position and the company culture. If the initial interview is positive, then you’ll probably proceed with a case study and then a meeting with other team members again depending on each company’s hiring process.

In general regarding the interviews, please make sure that you check what the company is doing, what kind of products they offer, their tech & product blog posts if they have any together with the job description beforehand so that you have an idea about the company which is quite important to show your excitement and that you did your homework.

I hope that these tips will help you land your next big opportunity. Wishing everyone resilience and great luck!

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Product Operations | Design Thinking

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Aybala Coskun

Aybala Coskun

Product Operations | Design Thinking

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