We know that being a foreigner looking for work in Germany is really hard (read this post about the reality of seeking employment in Berlin). We’re here to take that pain away from you and make your job search experience a little smoother.


We’ve long been doling out advice on working in Germany and we have plenty of comprehensive and detailed Berlin Life guides. We’re now going to bring all of that together with this checklist you can bookmark for future reference. It will feature all the things you need to consider when looking for a job in Germany, such as having a CV fit for the German job market, polishing your LinkedIn profile, having professional references at the ready, and so much more.

Here are all of the things you’ll need when searching for work in Deutschland. Banner

1) An updated CV 

If you’re going to apply for a job in Germany, you need to have an updated CV that’s suitable for the German job market. This includes different things like making sure your CV isn’t more than 2 pages and prominently displaying certain information that German recruiters want to see right away like language skills and education.

What works elsewhere, may not work in Germany and you’ll need to modify your CV accordingly to get invitations to a job interview. Lucky for you, we have tons of helpful resources to get you started:

1) Read our detailed guides – How To Write A German CV That Will Get You Interviews, Avoid Making These German CV Mistakes, and Why German CV Photos Are Not Necessary

2) If you want help from a professional career coach, book a CV coaching session with me. I’ll help you create a CV fit for the German job market and ensure you stand out against other candidates. You’ll receive detailed feedback about how to improve your current CV, as well as a 50 minute call with me to review it together and sort out any other questions you might have.

3) A more budget friendly option is to book a CV quick review, where you get the detailed feedback but without the call. 

2) Different CV versions (if applicable)

If you plan on applying for different roles, be sure to have a different version of your CV for each one. For example, if you’re a product manager and UX designer, you’d have one product manager CV and one UX designer CV. Some elements of the CV might be similar, but other elements will vary depending on the range of your role profiles.

3) Ability to customize your CV quickly and easily 

It’s essential to know which parts of your CV to customize for job applications.  In general, these areas of your CV can be customized:

1) Certain key words or phrases in your “about me” statement (sometimes also called a “professional profile”).

2) Job titles (so long as they do not stray too far off your original job title).

3) Responsibilities or accomplishments for each of your jobs listed under your work experience.

4) Technical skills and other core competencies you highlight. 

Keep in mind that you want to use similar wording that the company has in the job description and not a word-for-word regurtation. Otherwise, it won’t sound natural and the keyword stuffing will be really obvious to anyone looking at your CV. Last but not least, any changes you make should only take a few minutes of your time by making a few small tweaks here and there. 

4) A cover letter template 

In addition to having a CV that’s up to German standards, you need to know how to write a cover letter that works in Germany as well. Generic cover letters won’t suffice and you’ll need to develop a custom cover letter for each job application you submit. To be able to create a new cover letter on repeat, it’s wise to have a foundational cover letter template to work from.

We have guides to assist you with this of course, so read How To Write A German Cover Letter – A Step By Step Guide and Don’t Make These German Cover Letter Mistakes. They are packed full of super helpful tips to walk you through how to structure a cover letter, as well as other do’s and dont’s.

Additionally, I also offer cover letter coaching and related quick reviews if you want to solicit professional help.

5) A list of professional references

While I still need to write a more in-depth Berlin Life guide about professional references in Germany – as they are very different from how I used to collect references in Canada, it’s always a good idea to have a list of professional references at the ready when you’re looking for a job in Germany. 

I’ve lived in Germany for more than a decade and to date, I haven’t been asked to provide references once. However, friends and coaching clients of mine report having to provide them to potential employers now and again. At a minimum, have at least three professional references on file, and be sure to have their name, phone number, and email.

If you’ve already been working for a German company, then make sure you always request a reference letter before leaving the company whether you quit or were terminated. That way, you can keep it on file in case you ever need it in the future. Read our guide on notice periods in Germany for more details.

Another thing you could do is have both past and present colleagues write you a recommendation on LinkedIn. This way potential employers can easily see all the wonderful things people are saying about you without even asking. Be sure to follow The Berlin Life on Linkedin too! 

6) Private or “clean” social media profiles 

There aren’t too many people who aren’t on social media these days. Whether Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, or something else, many of us have some kind of online presence. What a lot of people often don’t think about is how their social media presence could potentially impact their ability to find a job. Many don’t realize that it’s common for prospective employers to Google you and see what they can find out.

The best case scenario is having a social media presence that’s career-relevant. For example, a recruiter may attempt to cultivate a following on LinkedIn by sharing tips and tricks about how to find work. This is a good thing, as it shows an employer how passionate you are about your career. While a career-relevant social media presence is lovely, it’s usually not required for work. If you have an Instagram account where you post pictures of food that you cook, your employer will only learn that you’re a whiz in the kitchen. 👨‍🍳

What’s not ideal is a social media presence where you share things that could be considered inappropriate, offensive, or controversial. Obviously, everyone has the right to share what they want without censorship, within reason and in accordance with laws. But at the same time, you need to think about how the content you create or share can be perceived by others. You even need to be careful about who you follow, as a simple follow can seem like an endorsement of that person. Depending on what they find, an employer could take one look at your social media accounts and immediately put your job application in the discard pile.

Whether or not this is right (we’re not taking a stance on that here), it’s a reality you have to deal with when looking for work in Germany. So while on the job hunt, we suggest being cautious about what you post, who you follow, the comments you leave, etc. Other workarounds could include making your accounts private or avoiding using your real name.

7) Social Media Callouts 

If you’re active on social media platforms, you can also leverage them to find a job in Germany. Be it LinkedIn, Twitter, or even Facebook groups, you can advise your network that you’re looking for work. People love helping each other out and will not only share your post but will be likely to connect you with others too. Even if they don’t do the latter, you never know who may see your post. 

Years ago when I found myself out of work in Berlin, I shared on Twitter that I’d been laid off and was looking for a new job. My tweet was shared many times and I landed two job interviews as a result – both of which led to offers! 

We know that you might not have a large social media following or be in a position to openly admit you’re looking for work, but there are ways to get around that. You can post anonymously or have a friend share something on your behalf. 

And even if you post once, don’t be afraid to post more than once. Bottomline, social media callouts are a great way to expand your professional network and up your chances of finding a job in Germany.

What do you think about our job search checklist? Is it helpful? Do you have any other tips? Drop a comment below.



  • Cheryl Howard

    A Canadian in Berlin for 10+ years, I have the unique experience of moving to Berlin - not once, but twice. I’ve had five different visas and worked as both a freelancer and a permanent employee. As a longtime Berliner, career coach, and hiring manager, I write guides about living and working in Berlin, offer coaching sessions, and provide ways to get connected to a wider community. The combination of my personal and professional experience means I know exactly what it takes to move to Berlin and find work.