Working in Germany For Members

Q&A: How foreign jobseekers in Germany can maximise their chances in 2024

Paul Krantz
Paul Krantz - [email protected]
Q&A: How foreign jobseekers in Germany can maximise their chances in 2024
Job interviews don't need to be as intimidating as they initially appear. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Zacharie Scheurer

German author and career coach Chris Pyak spoke with The Local about ongoing changes in the German labour market, and how foreigners can improve their chances of getting hired.


Europe's largest economy is weathering a winter recession, and one contributing factor is a lack of incoming young workers. Germany's labour shortage has been known for years, but its job market has largely failed to adapt. 

Thousands of job vacancies remain open, for an average of 120 days in Germany today, even as jobseekers from abroad struggle to find opportunities. 

Author of "How to Win Jobs and Influence Germans," Pyak has spent years helping foreign workers find employment in Germany.

He speaks plainly about Germany's growing labour gaps, and suggests that the country has an urgent need to help large numbers of immigrants to integrate and find work.

According to Pyak, in order to attract the numbers of foreign workers that Germany needs, both employer's attitudes and immigration policies need urgent updates. 

Pyak explained how Germany's job market is changing, offered a couple tips for job-seekers, and explained why the citizenship policy update is long overdue.

Hi Chris, thank you for talking with us. What's your outlook on the German job market at this time?

Roughly half of German companies already say that they cannot take orders because they don't have the people to fill them. So the fundamental situation is that Germany needs way more immigration just to keep the economy running. 


Due to this shortage of workers, we're seeing a shift of power from employers to employees. You can also see this in the labour negotiations with the train drivers recently, where the train drivers can basically dictate the terms because there are simply way more jobs than there are people qualified to do them. Employers will whine and complain about it, but in the end the employees can get what they want

Additionally, we're moving from what was a lack of skilled labour specifically to a general lack in the labour workforce. Everything is in demand now, which is further increasing the power of employees. 

Chris Pyak.

Jobs expert Chris Pyak. Photo courtesy of Chris Pyak

Considering the ways that employers can adapt to this shift in the labour market, what do you see companies doing now?

Something I've seen for the past 10 years is that even though employers may rationally realise who has the power in the market, they are still not emotionally ready to accept it.

They want to go back to the world like they had it before. Such as before Covid, where the manager is at the office watching all of their minions working, rather than trusting that their employees will do what is necessary

The other thing I suspect is happening is that companies are realising that the economic situation has shifted, that demand has shifted, and therefore the company needs to change and it may need different people than what it has right now. 

They might be quite happy to see some people leave, because they realise that they need a different skill. Which, even for the employee, is not necessarily a bad thing, because it opens up an opportunity to find better employment somewhere else.

READ ALSO: What's the outlook for the German job market in 2024?


What kind of big picture changes do you think will be required to bring a better balance back to the job market?

Already there is a need for at least 400,000 new immigrants every single year to fill empty jobs in Germany, and these needs grow stronger by the year. Because we need to replace the people who go into retirement, but also to offset more and more pensioners, which means more and more services provided for people who are no longer working. 

We need immigrants to come to Germany both for the labour market, but also because we need their fresh ideas.

Additionally, the number one thing that companies can do is to start hiring in English. Currently only four per cent of German employers hire in English. If you look closer at this, there are 350 companies that offer half of all English jobs in Germany. That's out of 350,000 companies with more than 10 employees.

That's something that needs to change because how else do we integrate 400,000 net workers every single year?

Given that widespread changes across the job market are going to take a long time, what tips would you offer to foreigners seeking a job in Germany right now?

To get a job you need to understand that your worst enemy is a stereotype. 

A typical recruiter in Germany will spend seven to 12 seconds looking at your application. That's the first two sentences. And if they don't see anything that immediately catches their attention, they will reject you – they will not look at your CV. 

How hard is it for foreigners to get a job in Germany?

How hard is it for foreigners to get a job in Germany? Photo: Pexels from Pixabay

And if you're a foreigner, and you don't speak German, you might not even be living in Germany at the time, then the final decision is to reject you.

To overcome this you need to stop being a stereotype. If you find a job that you are interested in, don't talk to HR and don't send your applications through the official channels, because the standard channels are for standard people, and you are not standard.

Instead try to find the hiring manager, or the person that you would report to if you get the job, and reach out to them via LinkedIn and try to have a conversation about what the person in this position concretely needs to deliver. 

Also, avoid making vague statements of faith like, 'I can learn this.' Instead earn a recruiter's trust by talking about specific and concrete experiences and skills.

READ ALSO: Which German sectors have the most job openings?


Finally, a lot of foreign workers in Germany are currently closely following the proposed changes to the citizenship process. I understand that you support the proposed changes. Why do you think it's important to offer foreign workers in Germany a streamlined process toward gaining dual citizenship?

This is not concerning people who are newly coming to Germany, but the millions who live here already, some for decades. 

I think you can't have a democracy if you exclude a huge percentage of your population from political decisions. We need these people to be able to participate in decisions and to empower themselves. By giving representation to a wider part of the population, the decisions we reach will be a better reflection [of what the people living in this country want.]

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in German citizenship in 2024


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