Working in Germany: It's a myth you need to speak German to land a job

Chris Pyak
Chris Pyak - [email protected] • 26 Sep, 2019 Updated Thu 26 Sep 2019 13:52 CEST
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German career Coach Chris Pyak sheds light on the number one worry he sees among his job seeking clients - and explains why it's easy to overcome.

Since 2013 I have helped international professionals to get English jobs in Germany. Over the years I guided hundreds of internationals in their job hunt in Germany. Thousands participated in my yearly Expats Career Survey.

Here's the number one piece of feedback which I receive: "They say I need to speak German to get a job."

But is language really what keeps you from being successful? In my analysis of the German job market I realized that the majority of all job openings do not require German language skills.

READ ALSO: Find English-language jobs in Germany

Only a few exceptions

Sure, there are jobs like medical doctors and nurses where the German language is a legal requirement. A lawyer or an accountant won’t get anywhere without reading German law – which is confusing enough for native speakers, let alone foreigners.

But these jobs make up a very small percentage of the available job offers. The majority of all jobs that demand a university degree are software developer, consultants, analysts, sales people, project manager, engineers and manager.

A recruiter looks at an applicant's CV. Photo: Despositphotos/alexraths

I regularly interview companies that hire professionals for all these positions – and they do a great job in English. The challenge: Only 1% of German companies are so forward thinking that they hire in English. 

Most HR departments still insist on fluent German language skills. 

Over the years, I have easily talked to over 800 HR managers. There are the extreme cases where an HR manager insists on “fluent German” – for a sales position that focuses on cold calling corporate clients in France.

'German required'?

And there's also the not so seldom case when international candidates were told “German required” by HR – just to discover that the whole department works in English after they talked directly to the manager with my help.

This is what makes me really sad: I have analyzed the German job market for six years already. I speak to hundreds of HR managers and department heads. Thousands of expatriates share their story with me – and I don’t see progress.

Here is the thing: In way to many cases it is not “German language”, that holds you back. It’s discrimination. 

The German "Institut für die Zukunft der Arbeit" (Institute for the Future of Work) is a government agency. It tested how many job applications the average candidate needs to send in order to secure one job interview.

Here are the results of the survey - and my advice on how to deal with this situation.


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.



Chris Pyak 2019/09/26 13:52

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