Posted by Louisa Heath on July 1st, 2016.
The UK may have voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, but for the time being at least, UK citizens’ rights to live and work in nations like Germany remain the same. If you want to spend some time working overseas, now might be the time to take the leap.
As one of the world’s most powerful economies, and the most influential nation in the Eurozone, Germany is a very popular destination for European expats to seek work. However, although the domestic unemployment rate is currently at record-lows, competition for the top positions remains fairly fierce. With that in mind, playing to your individual strengths is key.
One of the major advantages of being a UK expat is your native tongue, especially as the international language of business in English.
Much like the UK, Germany has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the European Union. At 6.0% in May 2016, German unemployment actually reached a record-low. Although the unemployment rate isn’t high, competition for jobs is still fairly intense – especially given Germany’s high rate of immigration.
However, a productive economy creates jobs quickly. In Germany, there is high demand for skilled workers and expats with a degree from a British university are always sought after.
Germany has one of the highest percentages of English speakers in the whole of Europe, with around 65% of the population able to speak and write at a comparatively high level. Compared with other EU member states, with the exception of the UK itself, this is incredibly high.
Given the high percentage of competent English speakers, it’s unsurprising that jobs for English speakers are highly competitive. This is especially true given the international language of business is English, and Germany’s world-renowned financial services industry is ever expanding.
But don’t let that deter you from seeking work in Germany. As a fluent English speaker you will have a significant advantage over those who speak English as a second-language. It would be advisable, however, to have a good basic knowledge of German so as not to limit potential jobs.
The website make-it-in-Germany offers some useful tips for outlining your language skills on your CV;
‘In Germany, the following terms are often used to describe this: “Muttersprache”, or native language; “verhandlungssicher” or business fluent (excellent skills); “fließend”, meaning you speak the language currently (sound knowledge of the language); and “Grundkenntnisse”, or basic skills (beginner). However, it is more advisable to refer to the standards of the Common European Reference Framework for Languages (CEFR).’
As mentioned above, Germany’s expansive financial services industry is a very attractive prospect for many English expats seeking work, especially those who have had experience in the UK’s financial sector. The UK is considered a world-leader in financial services, so experience from a London firm can open many doors in Germany.
There is also a lot of money to be made in IT and Telecoms, with the amount of jobs in this sector far outweighing any others. It is worth remembering that often companies that require an English-speaking telecoms operator usually require a high skill-level in German communication as well.
Although expats may find it harder to secure unskilled work in Germany, making the most of your mother tongue will still give you an advantage, as will picking the right area of Germany to relocate to.
For example, you’ll find it much easier to find bar work in a hot tourist destination than a small German town.
Finding unskilled jobs is better done with local newspapers and job adverts rather than internet searches. Jobs such as bar work or care work that have been advertised online are likely to be filled quickly.
There are also a huge number of temporary work agencies in Germany which have plenty of job offerings. Obviously this comes with the risk of a short contract and difficulty finding work after the contract has ended.
Unlike many European countries, Germany has such a high percentage of English-speakers that it is very possible to get by living in the nation without any grounding in German at all. Many of the signposts and dinner menus include multiple languages, for example.
However, surviving is very different to thriving. Having a good, basic knowledge of German will be a massive advantage when seeking work, especially in smaller towns and rural areas. Additionally, many of the higher-paid jobs require the ability to translate and communicate in both English and German.
It won’t have escaped your notice that the UK voted to abandon its membership of the European Union. This could have serious implications for those Brits wishing to seek work in Europe, but not a lot is known in these early stages.
Until the negotiations between the UK and the EU progress, it appears that UK residents can continue living and working in EU nations as they always have. If you’re concerned about the direction the talks may take, it might be advisable to wait until the situation settles before you plan your move – although this could take several years.
It’s likely that free movement won’t be on the cards when the UK finally splits from the EU, which means you may be required to have a work visa to find employment in Germany. For many, then, the guarantee of work is perhaps the only viable option for supporting a long-term relocation to Germany as it’s very possible that UK citizens won’t be entitled to the same benefits as EU citizens.
There are a number of websites dedicated to English expats seeking work in Germany. As mentioned previously, however, those seeking unskilled job roles may find that websites are less useful, and that using local newspapers and handing out CV’s has a higher success rate.
Reed.co.uk have a comprehensive list of jobs from a variety of sectors. Many of the adverts show the salary, this can be incredibly useful if you are trying to get a job prior to moving as it will better enable you to make a detailed and comprehensive budget plan.
The Local also has many jobs and the search can be easily broken down to specific areas of Germany.
One of the most important things to bear in mind that finding a job abroad is never an easy task, and can be very stressful. Therefore, planning and taking your time is the safest bet, as a last minute decision rarely works out the way you’d like.
All that is left to add is best of luck!
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