In an interview, Martina Beermann, Director Employer Relations/Career Service at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, talks about job opportunities in Germany. The certified process consultant with over 25 years of professional experience in the fields of human resource development, recruiting and career service also gives some advice for starting a career to international MBA graduates in Germany.
What does the current job situation in Germany look like?
Germany is presently in a very stable situation. Companies report 600,000 open positions, which sets a record. Being one of the world’s leaders in exports, second only to China, Germany is the second largest economy in Europe. The German Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs recently stated, “This country has never had more open positions to fill in recent history than today.” In addition to well-known big companies there are numerous small and medium-sized businesses, many of them amongst the so-called hidden champions.
Which sectors are booming?
The areas of e-commerce, big data as well as IT-based logistics are booming in Germany. Moreover, the financial, insurance, real estate, service and media industries are driving employment in the German economy at the moment.
What are the chances of getting a job for an international MBA graduate in Germany?
The job prospects for international MBA graduates are very good. Applicants with a broad academic and professional background are in demand. One thing that is important: get ready for the digital revolution. In this context, MBA graduates are being sought particularly in the field of software and IT services. On top of IT knowledge, know-how related to general management complexity is in especially high demand. International MBA graduates who would like to work in Germany in consulting, for example, need to show extracurricular commitment, the ability to solve problems and to persuade in addition to having good grades and analytical skills. The booming start-up scene in Germany is becoming increasingly attractive for MBA graduates. Working for these requires entrepreneurial thinking, creativity and flexibility, as well as general knowledge of how a company works. Applying to work for one of the numerous family-owned businesses or hidden champions in Germany is worth it. The advantage is that MBA graduates can often reach leading positions with high responsibility faster than in other companies. It is easier to have contact with people in charge of the staff and the top decision makers.
What are the prerequisites for MBA graduates, e.g. visas?
In addition to English skills, the most important prerequisite for international MBA graduates on the German market is at least a basic command of the German language. After successfully completing an academic program, graduates may have their residence permit extended by up to 18 months to look for a job. The residence permit allows them to engage in gainful employment during this time. Foreign workers have to adjust to German corporate culture in their working life. This culture is characterized by professionalism, which can sometimes be misinterpreted by those unfamiliar with the culture as unfriendliness. An international employee may not be accustomed to separating their professional life from their personal life as much as a German employee generally does, and may be surprised if their German colleague dismisses their attempts at small talk in favor for getting on with the task at hand. Individuals should be frank in their communication and expect direct, honest speech from their co-workers.
Are there any special features regarding a job application in Germany, e.g., one-page or two-page CV?
Regarding written applications, there are no strict rules like in the Anglo-Saxon world. However, the CV should describe individual professional positions in detail and with a relation to the job you are applying for. It would be ideal if the applicant could outline specific performance results from their previous jobs. A German CV is generally two pages long. Most employers recommend a professional portrait picture. The reason is that empirical studies have shown that decision makers believe the applicant has something to hide if the picture is missing. The date and signature of the applicant at the bottom of the CV confirm the correctness of the information provided. In addition to certificates and the CV, an application letter completes a German application. It should not exceed a page, it should also not just repeat the information provided in the CV, but summarize the individual qualities and the strengths the applicant has for the position described in the job advertisement.
Any advice for international applicants on getting a job in Germany?
One general piece of advice: you can only do well what you like doing. MBA students should note that the career change or job reboot should be at the center of your new career goal in Germany from day one of your studies. Practical projects and talks with network partners are another path a foreign applicant can take on the German job market to compare demands and individual expectations. I can also recommend establishing a targeted professional network of alumni and corporate representatives. As more than two thirds of German companies recruit MBA graduates from those individuals who held prior internships, several months of practical work experience would be advisable. In addition to a profile on LinkedIn, it is also recommended to be represented on the German business platform Xing. It’s not only in Germany that creativity and showing your authentic face are useful. In this context a professional application via a short video stands out positively and attracts attention.
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