Working in Germany For Members

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

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
INTERVIEW: How to get an English-speaking job in Germany
Employees have a chat at a coworking space in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hauke-Christian Dittrich

German career coach and jobs expert Chris Pyak says your best bet for an English-speaking job in Germany is to get around the Human Resources department. Here's what you need to know.


As more people in Germany retire or leave the workforce, the country needs around 400,000 new skilled workers a year to keep Europe’s largest economy going. But while the government is currently undertaking many immigration initiatives, including plans to simplify visas for skilled non-EU nationals and allow dual citizenship – Chris Pyak, author of How to Win Jobs and Influence Germans, says there’s one big problem German workplaces are still slow to solve.

“The visa itself is not the challenge that keeps international professionals from becoming successful here in Germany,” Pyak told the latest episode of The Local’s Germany in Focus podcast. “What I’ve seen over the last 11 years is a very simple problem – nearly all job ads in Germany are in German. Before Covid, only one percent of German companies hired in English.”



That number has since quadrupled – which sounds like a lot until you realise it means only 4 percent of job postings in Germany are currently in English. In many cases, people applying in English for German job postings are rejected straight away.

Pyak says the problem isn’t with international talent, but with German recruiters who are slow to adapt to new realities.

“Employers always say ‘we have a labour shortage, we need international people.’ But when I talk to the hiring manager or I talk to HR about what they need, sooner or later they say ‘they should speak a little bit of German.’ And then I ask ‘what is a little bit? What does this mean?’” says Pyak, before discovering that an applicant would need C1 German – the second-highest possible level – to do the job.

READ ALSO: ‘More jobs in English’: How Germany could attract international workers

Pyak also points out that half the English-speaking ads that do exist in Germany come from the same 350 employers, putting international talent in stiff competition with each other.

But there is another way to get an English-speaking job and become a successful professional here in Germany.

How to “Ignore HR” in Germany

First up, Pyak warns against falling into the trap of self-criticism.

”It’s not your fault that you don’t get job interviews here, don’t think that. It’s the fault of German recruiters who don’t adapt to new realities and who, quite frankly, are very often not even competent enough to evaluate you.”

The jobs expert says that’s often because German recruiters have 30-40 open positions to fill and are typically not experts in the areas their hiring managers are looking to fill with new talent.

“Ignore the HR department and the standard application process and instead reach out to the actual hiring manager – to the person who you will report to if you get the job,” Pyak advises. “Contact them via a LinkedIn personalised message and try and get them into a conversation so they get to experience you as the professional that you are.”

Jobs expert Chris Pyak, author of "How to Win Jobs & Influence Germans" advises you to bypass German HR departments. Photo: Chris Pyak

Pyak says that if you can score a conversation with the actual manager, make sure to use it to figure out the problem they need to solve and why it’s important, helping you to demonstrate your competence.

“But you only get this chance if you ignore the HR department,” he says.


While learning German is eventually the key to integrating and having a longer-term life here, Pyak says getting rid of the need to have it right away is important for attracting international talent, and until more companies take that step, international applicants need to be ready to break certain rules.

“In order to start here, objectively, you don’t need German. If you look at the jobs in highest demand, the jobs that experts are working in, these are all jobs you can actually do in English,” he says.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The German industries ‘most affected’ by skilled worker shortage


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also