Which German companies want to hire foreigners?

Chris Pyak
Chris Pyak - [email protected]
Which German companies want to hire foreigners?
Job applicants having an interview. Photo: depositphotos/adriaticphoto

Which kind of German companies hire foreigners? And which should you target for your next career move? Career coach Chris Pyak explains.


Over the course of a usual week, I talk to 50 human resources specialists and managing directors. In my experience there are three kind of companies that will hire foreigners: “Can”, “Must” and “Want” companies.

'Can Companies'

“Can Companies' own the brands that we all know such as Adidas, Siemens and BMW. These are the multinational corporations with huge financial firepower. Very often they use English as their business language. They want the best people around the world – and they are willing to pay top money to get them. Even better: They also offer security and a real career.

SEE ALSO: What's it like for internationals working in Germany?

These “Top 40” companies are the ones where 80 percent of all candidates apply. Try to get in. But don’t focus on them exclusively.

Photo: DPA

'Must Companies'

“Must Companies" don’t really love you. They will open up for foreigners because they can’t find anyone on the local market. They begrudgingly  agree to give English-speaking candidates a try – because no one else applies. (And even then sometimes they don’t want you). They don't pay well and can’t offer you much of a career.

That is no accident: Their small profit margins are a direct result of their choices. They operate in a dying industry, have unattractive working conditions, are based in the countryside, and tend to be very small.

Often their bad finances are the direct result of their refusal to change with the times. This has led to to resist hiring foreigners for as long as they could get away with it. You can find work here – but do you really want to?

'Want Companies'

'Want Companies' – These are the companies that I love. They don’t need you. They want you. These company made a strategic decision (a term that a lot of HR departments would need to look up in the dictionary) on how they will satisfy their employment needs in the next five to ten years. Often they are startups who choose English as their business language from “Day One”.

As a result they don’t even know the German word “Fachkräftemangel”, or skilled worker shortage.

SEE ALSO: Why it's a myth you need to know German to get a job

A while ago I interviewed Zalando for the Immigrant Spirit Podcast: They receive over 100.000 job applications every year. They are looking for extraordinary professionals. (In the next column I will share with you how you become the number one in your category.)

A second type of these “Want Companies" might surprise you: These are the “hidden champions” of the German Mittelstand. You might never have heard of them – but their products are built into your iPhone, your car and your washing machine.

These companies are often family owned. Their managing directors cares deeply about their business – and their employees. And they want you to help them grow internationally.

Boxes with a logo from German retailer Zalando. Photo: DPA

I find that people who work in these companies are usually liberal: They are eager to learn, they trust in their employees and they are willing to give you a chance to prove yourself. Here you find a decent pay, a great career – and a team that really cares.

An opportunity for you: Most candidates apply for the “Top 40” – and forget the nearly three million small and medium sized companies in Germany. Look beyond the obvious – and you find great employers.

Why don’t you try it right now with the job search of THE LOCAL?

Chris Pyak is the Author of “How To Win Jobs & Influence Germans“. The managing director of Immigrant Spirit GmbH has worked in four different cultures and lived in five different countries.

Chris returned to Germany in 2011. His mission: Bring the Immigrant Spirit to his home country. Chris introduces international professionals to employers in Germany. You can contact him with your questions here.

On June 25th he will host a free webinar exclusively for The Local's readers. Find out how to sign up by clicking the banner below. 


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