Why are more and more people in Germany working multiple jobs?

More than three million employees in Germany work more than one job, new figures show.

Why are more and more people in Germany working multiple jobs?
Lots of Germans have more than one job. Photo: DPA

And the number of people working in multiple jobs is going up. At the end of June 2019, around 3.54 million people were registered as having more than one job, according to a response by the Federal Employment Agency (BA) to an inquiry by the Left Party in the Bundestag.

Compared to June 2018, that's an increase of about 123,600 people – a rise of 3.62 percent, reported German regional newspaper, the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

The vast majority – just under three million – of those in multiple employment have a so-called mini-job or marginal employment in addition to a job subject to social insurance contributions.

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A small number of people have two or more jobs subject to social insurance contributions (about 350,000), while the third most common variant is a combination of two or more so-called mini-jobs (just under 260,700 people).

Mini-jobs in Germany were created to promote higher employment rates through income tax-free marginal employment, with workers making at most €450 a month in part-time jobs.

Politicians say the figures show that many people are struggling to make ends meet.

“For more and more employees, income from one job is no longer sufficient,” said Sabine Zimmermann, member of the Left party. 

Zimmermann called for the minimum wage to be raised to €12 per hour “as a first step”. 

Currently the minimum wage is €9.35 per hour. She also called for Germany to ditch fixed-term contracts and temporary work and ensure companies offer more stable jobs.

Which groups in Germany tend to work multiple jobs?

According to labour market experts, women, those in part-time employment and middle-aged people in particular increasingly need two jobs to make ends meet.

It is still a minority of employees who have two or more jobs: 3.5 million compared to some 39 million employed people in Germany (not counting civil servants and those who are self-employed).

“Nevertheless, the increase is striking, especially since the Hartz reforms (unemployment benefit reforms),” said labour market expert Enzo Weber of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) in an interview with German broadcaster Tagesschau. “Although it is not a majority phenomenon, it is a fairly large minority.”

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Since 2003, the number of people who have at least one side job in addition to another job subject to social insurance contributions has more than doubled: from 1,386,231 in mid-2003 to 3,537,686 in mid-2019.

At just under 57 percent, there are more women than men represented among the multiple job holders, according to an IAB report. It also revealed that part-time employees are represented more frequently (just under 64 per cent) than full-time employees, and employees between 40 and 50 form the largest group.

IAB researchers say the main motive for taking on several jobs is a financial one: that could be because an employee cannot work as many hours as he or she wants in their main job or because the salary is too low.

A study by the Hans Böckler Foundation's Economic and Social Science Institute confirms this. A total of 53 percent of those surveyed cited financial difficulties as the main reason for picking up an extra job.


Mini-jobs/ marginal unemployment – (die) geringfügige Beschäftigung

Part-time workers – (die) Teilzeitbeschäftigte

Side job/extra job – (der) Nebenjob

Financial difficulties – (die) finanzielle Schwierigkeiten

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

Lots of foreigners in Germany hope to get a job or climb the career ladder. But are there still opportunities for English speakers who don't have fluent German? We spoke to a careers expert to find out.

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

The pandemic turned our lives upside down. As well as having to isolate and be apart from family members, many people found themselves in need of a new job or decided they want a change in career. 

If you’re in Germany or thinking of moving here, job searching is of course easier with German language skills. But many people haven’t had the chance to learn German – or their German isn’t fluent enough to work in a German-only environment.

So how easy is it to find a job in Germany as an English speaker?

We asked Düsseldorf-based career coach Chris Pyak, managing director of Immigrant Spirit GmbH, who said he’s seen an increase in job offers. 

“The surprising thing about this pandemic is that demand for skilled labour actually got even stronger,” Pyak told The Local.

“Instead of companies being careful, they’ve hired even more than they did before. And the one thing that happened during the pandemic that didn’t happen in the last 10 years I’ve observed the job market was that the number of English offers quadrupled.”

READ ALSO: How to boost your career chances in Germany

Pyak said usually about one percent of German companies hire new starts in English. “Now it’s about four percent,” said Pyak. 

“This happened in the second half of 2021. This is a really positive development that companies are more willing than they used to be. That said it’s still only four percent.”

Pyak said he’s seen a spike in demand for data scientists and analysts as well as project managers. 

So there are some jobs available, but can foreigners do anything else?

Pyak advises non-Germans to sell themselves in a different way than they may be used to. 

A woman works on her CV in Germany.

A woman works on her CV in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

“In your home country you have a network, you have a company you used to work for that people know,” said Pyak. “This might be partly the case in Germany if you worked for an international company. But for most employers you are a blank sheet of paper, they know nothing about you. So unfortunately if they don’t know you or your country, they will assume you are worse (at the job) than Germans. It’s completely unjustified but it’s just how people are. 

“Get the employer to see you as the individual person you are, the professional you are. This requires that you have a conversation with somebody inside the company, ideally the decision maker, meaning the hiring manager or someone in this team.”

Pyak said it’s important to go into details. 

“Don’t think of me as a foreigner, think of me as ‘Mark who has been working in IT for 15 years’,” said Pyak. “Don’t read the job advert (to the manager), ask them what his or her biggest worry is and why is that important? And then dig deeper and offer solutions based on your work experience. Share actual examples where you proved that you can solve this problem.”

READ ALSO: 7 factors that can affect how much you’re getting paid

Pyak says foreigners in Germany can convince managers that they are right for the job – even if their German isn’t great. 

“What I advise clients at the beginning of the interview is to ask very politely if you can ask them (managers) a question. And this question should be: how will you know that I’m successful in this job, what is the most important problem I need to solve for you in order to make myself valuable? And then ask why this problem is so important. And the answer to that achieves a million things for you – first of all you’ve established a measurement by which you should be measured. 

“Then when you get into detailed discussion you can always tie your answer back to the question you can solve, which usually makes up 70 or 80 percent of the job. If you can solve this problem then what does it matter if you do the job in German or English?”

So in answer to our original question – it seems that getting an English-speaking job in Germany can’t be described as easy but it is very possible especially if you have the skills in your chosen field. Plus there are ways to increase your chances. Good luck!