Thinking of flying the nest? Or just fancy a change of career?
You’ll be happy to know that your German skills can get you ahead in the job market.
You’ll be an asset to employers, as not only can you communicate with a wider market, but learning a language will have helped develop your analytical and linguistic skills.
Looks like all those hours spent poring over grammar books will really pay off!
Been meaning to polish your resume? It’s time to add your German knowledge to it. In this blog post I’ll show you how you can use them to bag your dream job!
Things to Remember When Applying for a German Job
Applying for an American-based job that requires German is no different than applying for any other job. However, if you’re interested in taking up a position in a German-speaking country, there are a few differences to note.
Applying for work in Germany is slightly different than applying to jobs in the US. Each country has different expectations and requirements. Take your resume, for instance. You’re probably really familiar with the standard American style—it looks just like this. However, a German resume—or a Lebenslauf—looks slightly different.
In Germany, a Lebenslauf should look like a fact sheet: a collection of all your data presented clearly. Employers don’t want to get lost in endless paragraphs. They’re usually set out in two columns and should include the following sections:
- Personal details
- Professional experience
- Education and training
- Voluntary work
- Computer and language skills
Under each heading enter any relevant experiences you have. If you don’t have any scholarships, for example, don’t include the header.
One major difference between German CVs and English-language resumes is the addition of a photo. Many German recruiters will expect to see a passport photo of a candidate included with their Lebenslauf and cover letter. You don’t have to get one professionally taken. If you have any spare passport photos lying around, you can just submit one of those.
If you get invited to an interview, first of all, congratulations! There are also some factors to keep in mind. German has a clear split between formal and informal aspects of its language. Business German should all be very formal—especially in interviews when you’re trying to make a good first impression. Most importantly, remember to use Sie rather than du when you need to say “you.” If you remember this, and use polite greetings, you’ll be off to a good start.
If you get the job (yay!), you’ll have to arrange a visa and/or resident permit to ensure you’re legally allowed to stay in Germany. This is very important, otherwise you could end up in a lot of trouble with the authorities! Thankfully being employed by a German company will make this easy for you, as they will have to help out with a lot of the bureaucracy.
If you’re working for a large, international company, they could even sponsor you so that you’re able to stay in the country as long as you continue working for them. This saves the stress that often comes with annually renewing visas.
So what are your job options in Germany? Once you’re fluent, you’ll be able to apply for almost any job (as long as you fill all the other job-specific criteria). Here are my top five jobs for getting the most out of your German.
5 In-demand Jobs That Require German
You’ll be able to carry out all of these jobs in the United States, but should you wish to spread your wings and try out life in Germany, I’ve also shown you how to go about applying for them abroad.
There are two ways to use your German for a teaching career: stay in the US and teach German, or head off to a German-speaking country and teach English. If you want to stay home and teach German in America, the American Association of Teachers of German has loads of great information and can help you begin your search.
Teaching German in the US is a great way to, in a way, give something back. Remember all those inspiring teachers who motivated you through your German studies? Why not become one of them and inspire generations to go on and ace their German! Becoming a German teacher is much like how you’d become any other teacher, be it English, math or science. For more information, ask your school or college’s career adviser to find out about the different pathways into teaching—since licensing requirements vary by state.
If you fancy your chances at life in Germany, there is also the option of relocating and teaching English. One requirement you’ll need is to complete a TEFL course (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). You can take a TEFL course at most colleges, but if you’re up for a bit of an adventure, you can head abroad and take one of these international courses.
If you don’t like the idea of standing in front of an entire class, you could also look into teaching online or private tutoring. Websites which offer online German courses, such as Lingoda, are often looking for new tutors. If you’re interested in private tutoring, contact your local school or college to ask them about advertising your services.
International law is another sector waiting for you to bust out your German. If you’re planning on becoming a lawyer, it might be worth focusing on your language skills too. Once you’ve qualified as a lawyer in American law, you can always then go on to specialize in international law with a focus on German-speaking countries.
As with teaching, there will also be the option to take your German and combine it with your law knowledge and set yourself up as a lawyer in one of the German-speaking countries. In order to do this, you may be required to take a conversion course or exam so that you’re qualified to practice law in your new country. You can find more information about the exact process and requirements here.
If you want to apply for lawyer positions with a focus on German issues in America, this website has a lot of useful information on German-American law.
A diplomat is an official representative of your country abroad; it’s just like being an ambassador for the US. If you’re a diplomat in either Germany, Austria or Switzerland, you’ll be required to live there for some time and help to advance American interests in that country.
It can be a long road to becoming a diplomat; most people don’t become one until they are middle-aged. A career in politics is a good way into diplomatic life. Another common route in is to first become a Foreign Service Officer.
4. Pilot/Cabin Crew
For any job on board an airplane—whether you want to be the pilot or one of the cabin crew—you’ll be required to speak English. If you fancy jetting around Europe with one of the big-name German airlines such as Lufthansa or German Wings, you’ll also be required to have a good level of German.
The easiest way to become a Germany-based pilot is to get your pilot license and qualifications in the US. These will then be easily transferable to Germany. The same goes for those wanting to become cabin crew—train up with a US-based airline and then apply for jobs with German companies.
If you fancy yourself as the next big thing in business, having German skills will open up a lot more doors to you. Not restricted to America, you’ll be able to trade on European markets and be able to create more business relationships with many companies based in central Europe.
Many start-up companies are choosing to open their HQs in Berlin, and the city is fast becoming a hub of innovative tech businesses. Just take a look at this map—the city is full of fresh new businesses!
This is largely thanks to affordable rents, but now that the city has generated an excellent reputation for itself within the tech world, there’s now a wealth of great talent in the city—so you’ll have the pick of some of Europe’s most go-getting and savvy employees. If you fancy yourself at the forefront of a company, Berlin Startup Jobs has lots of exciting opportunities.
There are many other jobs which you can apply for if you speak German—why not start your hunt with this specific search?
But don’t forget that your future work doesn’t have to list German as a requirement. Learning a language helps boost a whole load of different skill sets, skills which most employers will see as an advantage!
After studying German and Philosophy at The University of Nottingham, Laura Harker relocated to Berlin in 2012. She now works as a freelance writer and is also assistant editor at Slow Travel Berlin.
And One More Thing…
If you want to seriously boost your German, you’ll love FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos and turns them into personalized language learning lessons so that you can learn German as people really speak it.
You’ll get to learn German with content that native German speakers watch on the regular, from Volkswagen commercials to funny YouTube videos, scenes from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the hit song “Let It Go” from “Frozen.”
Love the idea of watching fun, authentic videos, but worried about understanding them well enough? FluentU brings native videos within reach with its interactive subtitles.
While watching your chosen videos, you can tap on any subtitled word to look it up instantly. Every word comes with an in-context definition, image, audio and multiple example sentences. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can simply tap “add” to save it to your vocab list.
As you can see, FluentU isn’t just for watching videos. It’s a unique language learning program designed to get you to total German mastery, complete with active learning tools like vocabulary lists, multimedia flashcards and more.
Even the flashcards have something special to offer learners—they integrate video clips, imagery and audio to create rich, memorable learning experiences and help you retain German vocabulary better than ever.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of your progress and recommends relevant content based on what you’ve already learned.
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