The good news is that YES, it IS POSSIBLE to find English speaking jobs in Germany.
There are quite a lot of them, especially if you consider how few jobs are available in the UK, US or Australia without fluent English skills.
That’s the good news.
If you want to search for them, why not try out our jobs widget, brought to you in collaboration with one of the world’s leading job aggregation websites.
The not-so-good-news is that your chances of finding an English-speaking position are highly dependent on a number of factors. Before you invest a lot of time into this, it’s vitally important that you also have realistic expectations.
English Speaking Jobs in Germany: This isn’t Dubai or Singapore…
The language of industry and commerce in Germany is overwhelmingly German.
If you’re in a client-facing role, then unless your job is with the export market or international customer, you’ll need to be business fluent in German unless you’re WAY better qualified and experienced than local candidates.
My best advice would be to approach this pragmatically. Why should a German employer hire you? What makes you special?
There is certainly no shortage of English-speaking HR Managers, or Digital Marketing Executives, or Sales Professionals.
However, look towards the more STEM-related professions (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and the situation is very different.
Looking for opportunities which are “off the beaten track” is also more likely to net you success than applying speculatively to well-known companies which openly have a hiring in English policy.
For the gentlemen reading this, we all know how hard it was to date the most popular girl at school. The same logic applies to finding English speaking jobs in Germany!
Don’t chase what everyone else is chasing. You need to be more creative, strategic and cunning to bag that perfect job in a competitive market.
- What do you bring to the table?
- How are you unique?
- Why should an employer hire you?
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It Depends On The Seniority Of The Position
This is arguably the most critical factor.
The rule of thumb is: The more senior the role, the less important it is to be fluent in German, especially in multinational, foreign-owned companies.
Why is this?
First and foremost, more senior level positions tend to play in a more international environment. If the company is multinational, these positions will interact with their peers in many different countries rather than in a single production facility or local headquarters.
Secondly, senior management and executive roles may enjoy the services of a Personal Assistant, or at least a team admin or fixer, who can deal with any office-related bureaucracy which requires proficiency in German language.
Entry-level positions and jobs which require a lot of day-to-day interaction with blue collar workers are much more likely to require German language out of necessity.
It Depends On The Role And The Industry
Some industries and job types are by nature less dependent upon language skills.
You’re less likely to need fluent German if you work as a programmer or software engineer than if you work in a client or customer-facing role such as Sales & Marketing or Project Management, dealing primarily with German-speaking clients.
It goes without saying that any position requiring communication skills or interaction with clients, customers, and external suppliers is going to be trickier if you don’t speak the native language.
Outside of the private sector, academia, international charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are also good hunting ground for English speaking jobs in Germany. These are liberal and multicultural organisations which often have to search further afield than the local candidate pool to recruit real experts in their field.
It Depends On The Size Of The Company
Larger multinationals are more likely to adopt English as the international language of business. This not only applies to foreign corporations but also some larger German firms too.
Some of the largest German multinationals, such as the recent well-documented example of Volkswagen, are officially English speaking. Many more, such as Adidas and BASF, may not be officially but have certain departments or job functions which work primarily in English.
Medium sized, family owned businesses are much less likely to offer jobs in English, although ironically, these are the very companies that are most struggling with a skills gap for essential vacancies.
You need a STRATEGY…. and a stellar CV & Cover Letter!
- Are you prepared to put some thought and effort into your job search strategy?
- Do you have personal accountability?
- Great, then read on!
It Depends On Your Experience
Perhaps I’m stating the obvious here but it’s going to be easier for an experienced candidate to bag an English speaking job than a fresh university graduate.
This is a “buyer’s market”.
There are way more candidates than there are well paid English speaking roles. English speaking jobs in Germany are in high demand because there are plenty of well-educated international jobseekers seeking work in Germany who don’t (yet) speak fluent German.
You do see a reasonable amount of entry-level positions advertised, especially in industries which require English-speakers to deal with the international market or which may operate in an English speaking environment. The key here though is that employers will usually want to see some relevant qualifications and work experience, so the market is tough for recent graduates with little practical experience on their CVs.
It goes without saying that the stronger the candidate’s experience, the more likely they are to get hired.
To get a visa, perhaps consider teaching English on a freelancer to gain some practical work experience and give yourself time to learn German up to B1/B2 level. This will give yourself a head-start on more experienced candidates.