Greater Munich describes itself as ‘Europe’s silicon valley’ - a traditionally successful economic region striding into the future with a focus on tech and research. There are already over 50,000 people working there in research alone, and the ever expanding industries based in Munich mean that there’s a need for foreign talent.
There are lots of large American companies in Munich, as well as other international businesses who base their European or global operations from the city. Although understanding German will be a great advantage, it's commonplace to find English used for company communication. All in all, it means that Munich is a great place to look for expat jobs for English speakers.
If you're interested in building a new life for yourself in Germany, there might be the perfect job for you in Munich. Check out this guide to help you find it.
Before you start to look for a job in Munich, you need to check if there are any steps you need to take before you’re able to work legally there.
As Munich is in an EU country, citizens of other EU and EEA countries are free to live and work there under the free movement principle for EU nationals, but might be required to register with the local authorities.
Work permits are issued in different categories depending on whether you're entering the country for general employment, as a skilled specialist or as an entrepreneur. If you’re from America or another country outside of the EU, you’ll probably need to have a permit to work in Munich or elsewhere in Germany. You can check out all the details about living and working in EU countries at the EU immigration portal. Simply put in a few details about your situation and the handy form will tell you all your visa options. Alternatively, check out this quick guide to getting a work visa for Germany.
Usually to get a work permit your employer must show that they couldn’t find someone suitably qualified from Germany or another EU country to do the job. However, if you're coming to Germany to do a shortage job then this requirement is relaxed.
If you're from America or another non EU country, it might be possible to apply for an EU Blue Card which gives you the right to work across most EU member states. To be eligible you must be ‘highly skilled’ (typically meaning you have completed a bachelor's level university degree, or have at least five years of senior professional experience) and have a job already lined up.
Finding a job in Munich as an American or as an expat working with the English language typically isn’t too much of a problem if you have the right technical skills. Even if you don’t speak great German many large international companies have their base in Munich, and commonly use English around the office. BMW is one of the largest employers in Munich, and they’re especially proud of their multinational workforce drawn from over 50 countries. In their Munich plant they employ people in roles covering areas like IT, engineering and electronics.
Siemens works across technology, automation, healthcare and a range of connected areas. They have a large Munich hub with 9000 people working for them. Here you might find English speaking jobs in Munich, and those with relatively limited German language skills.
With some 8,500 people on the books, Allianz is another huge recruiter in Munich. Working in corporate and specialist areas of insurance, Allianz creates a large number of jobs for expats with the right expertise.
Munich’s Technical University’s job opportunities are plentiful, and many cater well to expats because of the large community of international teachers and students. Of course there are roles in the academic field, but as one of the biggest employers in the city there are also many roles in administrative, and student and staff service roles.
In general, if you’re in Germany with a student visa, you’re entitled to work for up to a total of 120 days a year, meaning that you might be able to find yourself a part time job or work seasonally. If you wish to work as an au pair, however, you’ll need a different visa type. To get one you must be under the age of 26, have a written offer of employment and fulfil all the requirements of a general employment visa. Au pair listings can be found online via agencies or direct ads placed by host families.
You’ll also want to know a bit more about how the salaries and costs of living in Germany work, specifically in Munich. If you have a company or role in mind, Glassdoor can be a great way of getting insight into the work culture and likely salary ranges on offer. Numbeo’s cost of living in Munich guide compares costs of rent, groceries, utilities and so on.
When it comes to job hunting, the internet is your friend. Aside from the most popular job sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Monster which cover more or less the entire globe, there are lots of local sites to choose from too.
Try these Munich specific job sites as a starting point:
- Jobs in Munich is a great source of open roles, with a bias towards those requiring English language, making it a perfect place for expat jobs.
- For jobs using a range of language and especially if you can get by with your German, check out Stepstone’s job board.
- Munich’s official city website is also a good place for job openings and ideas.
If you’re applying for jobs before you move to Germany, make sure you specify the date you’re available from and your visa status to make life easier for the recruiter.
Big international companies are prepared to fight for top talent and recruitment agencies exist to help them connect with the job seekers that are right for them. Looking online will certainly provide ideas and give you a sense for what's out there, but talking to an agent can really decrease the search process time.
Some of the larger and more popular agents in Munich include:
- Recruiting giant Hays, along with similarly well networked agency Michael Page, cover Munich and offers helpful advice for job seekers navigating the local market.
- Headhunter IRC work to fill permanent and interim positions, including working with great expat jobs in Munich.
- For roles in life sciences, construction and supply chain try Progressive Recruitment.
Be wary of scams or people who say they can deliver extraordinary results. Check out the credentials of any agency you choose to use, and don't ever hand over any cash to simply be put in touch with an employer. Some agents offer a range of ‘add on’ services like helping you to polish your CV, write a cover letter or get a visa. Make sure you’re very clear about what you’re paying for if you decide to include any extras. If in doubt move on to a different agency you can trust.
Your network is your most important tool when you’re looking for a new position, because many jobs are filled without ever being openly advertised. This can feel like a challenge when you’re also moving to a new city, but don’t worry. Start by building your network online, and by joining groups active in your field in Munich on professional sites like LinkedIn. Local industry associations can also be a great way to connect with people even before you arrive.
The Amiga program is designed to support migrants in the workforce, and can connect you with information, mentors, job fairs and open opportunities. It’s a great program to start building your local network. Get in touch before you move, and you have a head start on building your local contact book.
Depending on your work area, you might also benefit from joining a local chamber of commerce or business networking group. Checkout sites like Meetup that specialise in bringing like-minded people together for ideas.
Having a knock out CV is crucial when you’re looking for a new job. Make sure it’s up to date, error free and easy to read. Otherwise, busy recruiters will likely put your application directly into the trash. Getting a job in Munich is likely to be a competitive affair, so make sure you invest the time upfront.
If you’re starting from scratch preparing a CV for the European market, check out the CV and cover letter templates and advice available from Europass. Here you can download a standard template which includes all the relevant information for CVs in Europe, which you just have to complete. For more specialist ideas about the German labour market, try online sites like Jobera or consider hiring a local CV consultant who can help tailor your documents for the roles you’re seeking.
German employers will expect a very specific style of CV, and the German ‘*lebenslauf*’ is far more dry and factual than the resume documents seen in some countries. Think of it more as a fact sheet, and use it as a place to summarise only the key data about yourself, without any ego. For large international companies, a CV in English is fine. If your German is good enough for business purposes, it’ll be appreciated by recruiters if you can give them a resume in their native language.
Essential categories for your Munich CV are 'Personal Details,' 'Work Experience,' 'Education’, Training and Qualifications,' 'Computer and Language Skills,' and, if relevant, 'Voluntary Work,' and 'Scholarships'. You’ll need to include your marital status, place of birth and a professional passport sized photo as part of your ‘personal’ section - but don’t bother with information about hobbies or interests. German employers would far rather know how your language and IT skills lend themselves to the job.
For most of us, job interviews can be pretty stressful. Even more so if your prospective employer is on the other side of the globe. When recruiting long distance, it’s not uncommon for first interviews to be held over the phone or on a video call. This approach throws up a whole set of different challenges to a face to face meeting, so it’s worth planning in advance and thinking about how to build rapport with your interviewer while you’re not even in the same room. Asking relevant questions, using humour and even smiling while you speak can make for a friendly conversation which can help you get through to the next round.
An interview in Germany is likely to be held with both the recruiting manager, and a representative from HR. Don’t be taken aback if you’re faced with several people, it’s not personal!
Naturally, you’ll need to be punctual and dress to reflect the business style. It’s worth also checking in advance if any language assessments are required. Government backed portal ‘Make it in Germany’ contains lots of helpful advice about the process of applying and interviewing for a job in Germany.
Landing in a new country as a foreigner can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily if you’re an expat in Germany, the government backed ‘Make it in Germany’ site has lots of information about how to sort out practical tasks and start to integrate into society.
To find out more about how to settle in Munich, including details like finding accomodation and getting your utilities connected, check out the city portal website. You can also access specific information tailored to incoming foreign professionals, to help you and your family get off to a good start in the city.
You’re going to need some cash to get you started in Germany, so you may be wondering how to go about converting your money to the local currency. If you plan to open a bank account in Germany, or know someone with an account there, consider using TransferWise to send your money to and from Munich.
There’s a small transparent fee, and the real exchange rate is applied to convert from one currency to another - the same one you can find on Google. In addition to that, TransferWise receives and sends money via local bank transfers instead of internationally, which saves you even more money by eliminating international transfer fees.
Once your visas and currency exchange are in order, you’re ready to move to Munich!
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