For members


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

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


How German companies are getting creative in the search for skilled workers

From 'speed dating' to spontaneous careers counselling, companies are starting to think outside the box to find the workers they need amid Germany's worsening labour shortage. Here are some of the creative hiring practices going on.

How German companies are getting creative in the search for skilled workers

As trains arrive and depart from Frankfurt’s main station, anyone curious about a change of career can find out all about the positions at Deutsche Bahn without even leaving the platform. Elsewhere in Germany, recruiters are turning to a new interview format where hopeful applicants get to know companies in the space of just five minutes. 

To find new employees despite the tight labor market, more and more companies are using creative approaches to recruiting staff.

At DB, the company is eschewing the impersonal online world for an in-person drop-in centre conveniently located in stations in both Frankfurt and Leipzig. 

“In the DB Job World, interested parties can simply drop by without an appointment and inform themselves about the more than 500 professions at DB in a relaxed atmosphere,” Annamaria Dahlmann, head of recruitment at the company for Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland told DPA. 

Originally, the location in Frankfurt’s Hauptbahnhof (main train station) – which was formerly home to a travel agency – was opened as a careers counselling service for Ukrainian refugees, in cooperation with Germany’s Employment Agency. 

Within six months of opening in April 2022, the site had become exclusively dedicated to jobs at Germany’s national rail operator – for all nationalities. However, one of the original visitors from Ukraine now works there as a counsellor, giving multilingual advice on weekdays about opportunities to join DB.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: The German industries most desperate for skilled workers

The DB careers drop-in centre in Frankfurt am Main

The DB careers drop-in centre in Frankfurt am Main Hauptbahnhof. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

“We conduct 100 to 150 consultations here a month,” said Dahlmann. “About five to ten of them are hired every month.”

From managers to homeless people, apprenticeship seekers to career changers, the people who come to the centre have a range of backgrounds, explained Florian Brech, a project manager at Job World.

The spontaneous contact points in Frankfurt and Leipzig are among the many small building blocks the rail firm is using to recruit personnel. DB is hoping to hire around 5,000 new employees in Hesse each year, and more than 25,000 across Germany.

“As a company, we are also applying to people to some extent with the offer and approaching them with it,” Dahlmann said.

READ ALSO: INTERVIEW: How to get an English-speaking job in Germany

Skilled worker shortage

The state-owned rail operator is far from the only company trying to find new ways to source the workers it needs in Germany. 

According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, there are around 630,000 vacancies in Germany that can’t be filled with skilled workers due to severe labour shortages in the country.

This is largely to do with changing demographics: while swathes of workers from the baby boomer generation are entering retirement, fewer and fewer young people are joining the workforce, and those that do may not have the skills they need for the jobs available.

The ministry estimates that by 2060, one in three positions will go unfilled – but only if Germany doesn’t attract enough workers from abroad. 

This is the thinking behind the government’s new skilled worker immigration law, which is designed to encourage young people with skills or qualifications to move to Germany long-term. In the meantime, however, recruitment experts say that companies will need to be far more proactive in reaching out to potential job applicants.  


One example is the Stell Mich Ein (Hire Me) platform, which has been organising speed recruiting events in the communications industry throughout Germany since 2012. The events are based on the speed dating format and generally take place in major cities like Frankfurt, Hamburg and Berlin as well as online, giving recruiters from design, PR and marketing agencies a chance to meet numerous candidates face-to-face.

A hiring manager and applicant shake hands at a job interview.

A hiring manager and applicant shake hands at a job interview. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

“Today, companies have to be active in their search for applicants,” project manager Steven Hille told DPA.

At the Stell Mich Ein events, 30 career starters and young professionals can get to know up to ten agencies in the space of one evening. They provide one application and take part in up to ten snappy interviews at different companies – generally lasting no more than five minutes. Once the rapid-fire interview is over, applicants change tables just like they would at a speed dating night. 

While companies pay €1,500 to take part in the event, entrance is free for applicants – though the process is selective.

The organisers select from more than 100 applicants on the basis of their online applications, references and career goals. 

“Companies hire an average of 1.25 people per event,” explained Hille. “Every third applicant finds a job after participating.” 

READ ALSO: Which sectors are looking to hire in Germany?

Of course, it’s normally not as simple as signing a contract after just five minutes: the mini interviews are usually followed by more formal interviews and potentially a concrete job offer at a later date. 

Nevertheless, the format has been so successful that other industries have started to adopt it as well. Most recently, Stell Mich Ein worked with the tourism and travel sector to launch a new platform called Easyboarding, which uses the same speed-dating interview process.

“Especially in tourism, the Covid pandemic has opened up large gaps in personnel,” said Hille. “Speed recruiting at events is intended to help overcome the shortage of skilled workers.”