German is not always the most intuitive language in the world, and looking for a job can leave you lost in a sea of unfamiliar vocabulary. So here’s a chance to brush up on some of the words you’ll need most when you go job-hunting.
This is where your job hunt may begin, a space – usually online – where companies and employers can advertise their current openings.
Stellenbörse translates as “job exchange”, and is also known as a Jobbörse or a Stellenmarkt.
From independent websites to exchanges attached to the major newspapers, there are dozens of Stellenbörsen out there. The best one, of course, is The Local’s very own, which gives you a brilliant overview of all the best English language jobs going in Germany.
One of these two words is likely to be on most of the job postings you look at. Teilzeit means part-time, while Vollzeit…well, you can probably work it out.
Fachkräfte are always in demand, and many companies will post opportunities for Facharbeiter. This means that they are after a specialist.
A Fachkraft is somebody who is highly qualified in a specific field, so if you are looking to learn on the job, these positions are probably not for you.
One of our favourite German words, an Azubi is a trainee or an apprentice, and an Ausbildung, in job market terms, is a traineeship.
Unlike an intern or Praktikant, an Azubi is usually somebody who is doing a formal education with a view to entering a specific occupation.
Fest Angestellte and freie Mitarbeiter
A Stelle is a position or job, and someone who is angestellt is employed. A common turn of phrase is to differentiate between a fest angestellte Person, who is a salaried employer, and a freier Mitarbeiter, who is someone doing freelance work.
Once you’ve trawled through the Stellenbörse and picked out a job which suits you, there are certain things that you will need for any application. One of them is your Lebenslauf.
Your Lebenslauf is your CV – in fact, it’s an almost direct translation of the Latin phrase curriculum vitae. Your qualifications, language and IT skills, experience and references should all be in there. CVs are also often dated and signed in Germany.
Under German anti-discrimination law (AGG), you are allowed but not obliged to include such things as your religion, gender, date of birth, nationality and photo.
Another key thing to include in any application is your Bewerbungsbrief, or cover letter.
As in the English speaking world, this should be no more than a page of writing, describing your motivation and suitability for the job.
Striking the balance between formality and flair can be difficult in German. If in doubt, the tried and tested “Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren” and “Mit freundlichen Grüßen” are always safe bets, but depending on the job you are applying for, you might want to spice it up a bit by sending your Grüße either “nach Hamburg” or “aus Berlin”.
Along with your Lebenslauf and Bewerbungsbrief, most employers will want a reference or two, so make sure you include an Arbeitszeugnis.
Just as they are elsewhere in the world, these should be written by a former employer or someone similar. You would normally attach them to your CV.
If your written application is enough to impress your potential employer, you will be invited to a Vorstellungsgespräch.
Though it sounds nicer in German (the literal translation is “introductory conversation”), this is a job interview, plain and simple.
As with the CV, the law forbids interviewers from asking you questions about your private life, sexual orientation, marital status and religion. There should also be at least two people interviewing you.
Congratulations! You’ve impressed with your Lebenslauf and Bewerbungsgespräch, got through the Vorstellungsgespräch, and now you have been offered an Anstellung!
In most employment contracts, you will at first be put on a probation period or Probezeit. During this time, your employer is technically allowed to dismiss you with just two weeks notice. Under German employment law, the period should last no longer than six months.