For members


Jobs in Germany roundup: Spike in startups and can tattoos influence your application?

Every week we compile news and talking points on working life. Here we look at the rising number of startups, reasons for working abroad, and an intriguing court case involving tattoos at work.

Jobs in Germany roundup: Spike in startups and can tattoos influence your application?
Berlin has seen the highest number of startups recently. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

More startups in Germany

The number of new startups in Germany is rising. 

According to a new analysis by Startupdetector, 806 startups were founded in the second quarter of 2021 – that’s 213 more companies than in the same period last year, as shown in the graph by Statista below.

Graph translated by The Local by Statista

With 184 new startups, Berlin remains the leading startup city in the Bundesrepublik. It’s followed by Bavaria (149) and North Rhine-Westphalia (138). The top three startup sectors are software, eCommerce and medicine, which together account for just under 40 percent of all new startups. The food segment also recorded strong growth. 

Startupdetector says: “The constant development of startups despite the crisis situation illustrates the potential and strength of the startup scene.”

What can we learn about people working abroad?

For its Expat Insider 2021 study, Munich-based InterNations surveyed 12,420 people who are pursuing employment abroad.

InterNations asked expats worldwide what they like about their job, which aspects are most important to them and how they want to work in the future.

The survey found that foreigners working abroad are 43-years-old on average and the gender ratio is fairly balanced, with 53 percent men and 46 percent women. Well over half of expats (61 percent) are in a relationship, which was also the second most cited reason for working abroad in the first place.

READ ALSO: Seven ways to pay less tax in Germany

A total of 10 percent said they left their home country for love so they could live in their partner’s home country. The most frequently cited reason for having moved abroad was for professional reasons, according to the survey. The foreigners who had found a job outside of their home country, had been recruited or sent by their employer, or had wanted to start their own business.

InterNations also asked expats which countries they felt most comfortable in, based on quality of life, settling in, working in the city, financial and housing situation, and cost of living. Taiwan scored best, followed by Mexico and Costa Rica. The last three places were taken by Italy, Kuwait and South Africa. Germany ranked 35th on the list. 

Frankfurt is a popular destination in Germany for foreigners working abroad. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

What about Germans working abroad?

As foreigners in Germany, we are used to entering into another workforce. But what about Germans heading to other countries?

According to the InterNations survey, the vast majority of German expats work full-time (83 percent) and an average of 41.4 working hours per week. Nearly two out of five Germans working abroad earn at least $100,000 per year, compared to only 23 percent of expats worldwide. The proportion of German expats with an annual income of at least $250,000 is even more than double the global average (three percent).

However, good pay is not that important to Germans abroad. Only 29 percent said they placed a lot of value on it. 36 percent of German respondents said they particularly valued creative and interesting tasks, and 33 percent said the ability to work on the move or from home was particularly important to them. 29 percent also said they valued flexible working hours.

The international survey shows a similar result, with 32 percent of global expats finding mobile working important, another 32 percent valuing a good work-life balance, and flexible working hours also an important factor for 29 percent.

Most Germans abroad work in mechanical engineering/general engineering (13 percent), followed by IT (10 percent) and education (9 percent). By contrast, of expats of all nationalities, most work in education (12 percent) and IT (11 percent). In third place is the financial sector with 8 percent.

Tattoos of skulls ‘allowed’

Can you be rejected from getting a job because of a tattoo thought to glorify violence? That was the question during a court case in Germany recently, which ruled in favour of a tattooed man, reported Spiegel.

The man had applied for the police civil service in North Rhine-Westphalia – but the state rejected the application because it suspected the applicant of having an attitude that glorified violence. He had a skeleton with a skull tattooed on his upper arm. The teeth in the jaw of the skull were “oversized” and frightening, according to the state. They said cracks were recognisable in the skeleton, which indicated the impact of violence.

Archive photo shows a person with skull tattoos on their hand at a tattoo convention in Frankfurt. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Boris Roessler

The applicant filed an urgent application against the grounds of rejection – and was successful: the tattoo should not generally prevent employment in the police service, at least in North Rhine-Westphalia, the court ruled. Doubts about his character were not proven by the tattoo.

The man explained to the court that the skeleton is a reminder to use time wisely because you can’t live forever. 

The court also said that other tattoos on the man should be taken into consideration, including an angel and a dove, which signify peace. 

In view of this, the applicant should not be denied access to the police civil service because of a perceived attitude glorifying violence, the administrative court ruled. Four years ago, the same court ruled that a general tattoo ban by employers was not legal. One year later, however, it reaffirmed that the rejection on the grounds of motives glorifying violence could still stand. 

So overall, the legal basis for dismissal on the grounds of body art is unclear – so if you have a tattoo that may be perceived the wrong way, be prepared to stand up for it when you apply for that next dream job. 

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For members


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!