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The words and phrases you need to navigate the German job market

Embarking on a job search can be a daunting prospect even in your homeland, and even more difficult in Germany. Here are some words, phrases and tips to help you along the way.

A woman searches for job adverts on a job portal on her tablet.
A woman searches for job adverts on a job portal on her tablet. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The search

Luckily, there are various ways to look for a job in Germany.

The easiest starting point is looking at online portals, where employers advertise their current openings. These go by several names – including Stellenbörse or Jobbörse (job exchange), or Stellenmarkt (job market).

The best one, of course, is The Local’s very own, which gives you a great overview of the best English language jobs going in Germany, but there are also many others such as, and the jobs page of the federal employment agency website.

While searching for a job, you’ll need to filter your options according to which type of position you’re looking for.

If you want a full-time position, you should check the box for Vollzeit and Teilzeit for part-time work.

READ ALSO: Working in Germany: Which sectors currently have the most job openings?

If you’re looking for a freelance gig, then you should look for positions advertising for a freier Mitarbeiter, while if you’re seeking a salaried position – where your healthcare and tax contributions are taken care of by the employer – then you should look for jobs as a Festangestellter (permanent employee).

If the job advert you come across specifies Fachkräfte or Facharbeiter, this means that they are seeking a specialist, so if you are looking to learn on the job, these positions are probably not for you.

But if you do want to learn on the job, then you might want to consider positions for a Praktikant (intern) or if you’re doing a formal training course with a view to entering a specific occupation – you could look for positions as an Azubi (Auszubildende/r) – a trainee or an apprentice.

If you find an organisation that you would like to work for, but which doesn’t currently have any advertised vacancies, you can try sending them eine Initiativbewerbung – literally an “initiative application” – as an e-mail or even by post.

A handy opening phrase to keep in mind for such applications is:

Ich bin auf der Suche nach einer Stelle in…

“I am looking for a job in…”

If you’re not getting anywhere online, you can also try looking out our for a Jobmesse (job fair) in your local area.

A job fair for Ukrainian refugees organised by the Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Federal Employment Agency in June, 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Another option is to get a professional to help you with your job search. A recruitment agency – or eine Personalvermittlung, can put you in touch with a job agent – ein Personalvermittler – who can look for jobs and interviews on your behalf and who will usually be paid by commission from your eventual employer.

The application

A standard job application in Germany consists of der Lebenslauf (CV), das Anschreiben or der Bewerbungsbrief (cover letter) and important Unterlagen (documents) featuring the two Z’s: Zeugnisse and Zertifikate (both meaning “certificates”).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The 25 most in-demand jobs in Germany

As in most other countries, your German Lebenslauf should include a summary of your beruflicher Werdegang (professional background), Qualifakationen (qualifications), as well as Sprachen (language skills), Kenntnisse (relevant knowledge) and even Hobbys (hobbies).

An employer reviews a CV. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

Under German anti-discrimination law (AGG), you are allowed, but not obliged, to include such things as your religion, gender, date of birth, nationality and photo.

READ ALSO: Six things you should know about creating a cover letter and résumé

The second standard document to send along with your CV is the cover letter. As in the English-speaking world, this should be no more than a page of writing, describing your motivation and suitability for the job and telling the employer why you want to work for their organisation specifically. 

It’s best to try to find out the name of the person in HR or the head of the department who will be reviewing your application and address it directly to them. While a general Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren is a safe backup, it can sound a little old-fashioned and general. 

Most employers will want a reference or two along with your CV and cover letter, so make sure you include an Arbeitszeugnis and other relevant Zeugnisse and Zertifikate, such as Ausbildungszeugnisse (training certificates), Studienzeugnisse (study certificates) and Zertifikate über Fort- und Weiterbildungen (certificates of further education and training).

The Interview

If your written application is enough to impress your potential employer, you will be invited to a Vorstellungsgespräch which literally means “introductory conversation” – but is definitely an interview. 

READ ALSO: How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

This can be a nerve-wracking experience to have in German, but if you keep a few of these handy phrases in your pocket, you’ll sail through. 

Ich bin sehr zuverlässig

I am very reliable

Ich möchten mich beruflich weiterentwickeln
I would like to develop professionally

Ich habe schon viele Erfahrung in diesem Bereich gesammelt

I already have a lot of experience in this field

Ich lege viel Wert auf Kreativität in meiner Arbeit

I place great value on creativity in my work

Auch unter Druck kann ich gut arbeiten und ruhig bleiben

Even under pressure I can perform well and stay calm

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For members


Just how well does Britain’s King Charles III speak German?

On his first official state visit as British monarch, King Charles III impressed his German hosts by beginning not one, but two of his speeches in German. The gesture impressed both guests at Wednesday’s state dinner and parliamentarians during his Thursday address to the German Bundestag. But just how well does he speak it?

Just how well does Britain's King Charles III speak German?

Germans love a foreign guest who can speak German — even just a little bit.

Unlike some other countries, where it might take a lot more fluency to impress your hosts, a few words of greeting in German are often likely to go a long way with Germans. King Charles, known to speak German with some fluency, clearly understood this after arriving in Berlin for his first state visit as King.

“It’s very nice for you all to have come and not left me alone for a ‘Dinner for One,’” the King said to his laughing German hosts at Wednesday’s state dinner, referring to the German tradition of watching the British sketch of the same name on New Year’s Eve.

“I’ve established that I’ve actually been to Germany more than forty times,” he told his dinner guests, before demonstrating that he wasn’t done with the jokes. “That naturally shows how important I consider our relationship, but also, I fear, how long I’ve been around.”

READ ALSO: ‘New chapter’: Charles III in Germany for first foreign trip as king

Shortly after his second wisecrack, he continued his dinner speech in English. But German parliamentarians were treated to another display of King Charles’ German chops during his address to the Bundestag on Thursday — the first such address for a reigning British monarch.

This time though, he was more serious — and his vocabulary more advanced. More than giving the opening remarks in German, King Charles also switched back and forth between English and German several times throughout the speech.

During the first part of his speech — in which he spoke entirely in German for around four minutes, King Charles opened by saying “there is hardly a better place than this building to show the history of the 20th century. It demonstrates in itself what connects our two countries,” he said.

“In 1933, it was set on fire. In 1945, heavily damaged. In the 1990s, the parliament of a reunified, democratic Germany would be reconstructed by a British architect.”

Continuing in German, King Charles thanked his hosts for his previous invitation to speak before the Bundestag in 2020 — a speech which he also gave partially in German.

Charles speech

Charles III addressing the Bundestag on Thursday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

READ ALSO: Charles warns Europe’s security under threat in landmark speech in German

Not a beginner in the language

Beyond the lighthearted German greetings he gave during his state dinner, King Charles’ Bundestag address shows that he is at least familiar with advanced German vocabulary.

During the German parts of his speech, he referred to Germany and the UK’s common goal to support Ukraine, the inspiration the women’s football team in both countries had given to the next generation, and climate change.

A German learner’s knowledge of these topics would typically be tested in classes at the B2 or even C1 level, suggesting the British monarch’s vocabulary level is at least at an upper intermediate level—if not at an advanced level.

Of course, the speech itself was likely written — and certainly proofread — for him. He also likely had the chance to practice it beforehand. Even so, King Charles did stumble over a few words and speaks German with a noticeable English accent.

That said, he clearly understands what he’s saying.

The German vocabulary he uses when speaking also doesn’t always involve the simplest word choice a German speaker could use on some of the weightier topics he discussed.

He also has a certain sense of timing necessary to make jokes land — something even advanced German speakers can struggle with at times.

Obviously, reading a prepared speech — even one that uses a lot of advanced vocabulary—is easy compared to listening to an advanced lecture, reading a novel, or having a spontaneous conversation about politics or another advanced topic.

Whether King Charles is good enough to have a long impromptu chat with his German hosts isn’t so clear to us — the public.

But he’s certainly not a novice.

The German media is left impressed

German newspapers had a few complementary headlines about King Charles’ German. “Standing Ovations for Charles Bundestag speech in German” read one headline in Bild, Germany’s highest circulating tabloid newspaper.

“With an accent, but without mistakes: why King Charles can speak German so well,” read another piece in Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel.

As this piece notes, it’s not clear exactly where King Charles picked up German, noting that he took French and history during his UK A-Levels, rather than German. Some say that the King has a knack for languages, famously giving part of his 1969 inauguration speech as Prince of Wales in Welsh – a language even more difficult than German.

However, his father. Prince Philip, was known to speak German at or near a native level — and all of Prince Philip’s sisters married into German aristocracy.

King Charles thus has many German cousins on his father’s side, while his mother’s side also has many German relations. In 1947, Prince Philip’s sisters, just two years following WWII, were banned from his wedding to Britain’s then Princess Elizabeth.

As the state dinner Wednesday, many of King Charles’ German cousins accepted invitations to dine with him, in another symbolic sign of reconciliation.

READ ALSO: What are the German roots of the British royal family?