Embarking on your career after studying

Successful graduation at a German university opens a range of opportunities in the German job market for international graduates. What is my best method of attack?

Graduates from the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) have free access to the German job market. By contrast, graduates from other countries are allowed to extend their residence permit for up to 18 months after completing their studies for the purpose of looking for employment. Incidentally, during this period you can work as much as you want. The 18 months start as soon as the final exam result has been issued in writing. So, anyone wanting to work in Germany after completing their studies should already start looking for a job in their final semester.

Compliance with the statutory provisions

The "Information on the Statutory Frameworks applicable to the Pursuit of Gainful Employment by Foreign Students, Academics and Scientists" leaflet provides more detailed information.

Consider what your skills are

The search for the perfect job starts with you. You should think about your own interests and skills before thinking about specific jobs. Questions that may help during this self-assessment:

  • Who am I?
  • What am I good at?
  • What do I want to do?
  • What is possible?

Many graduates only look for jobs that precisely match their course. A better approach would be to look at the bigger picture, consider related fields and transfer your knowledge. If you read job advertisements carefully, you will notice that companies are often looking for employees with certain skills, not a specific degree.

The university's Career Centre can also help you launch your career. They help students and graduates make the transition from their studies to professional life. Career Centres help you organise your own situation and explore possible careers. They also check your application documents, hold information events and invite companies to hold presentations.

Seek an external opinion

You can also ask people close to you for their opinion. Or, you can ask for feedback from a professor or an internship supervisor. You can then compare your self-assessment with the external opinion. These opinions can often provide new perspectives.

Searching for and finding the right job

Once you are sure of your interests and skills you can start looking for a job. In order to know which jobs you want to consider, you will need to have specific expectations of a range of different jobs. Looking for potential employers during your course, completing internships and establishing professional contacts definitely provide an advantage. It gives you something to build on when you start looking for a job at the end of your course.

The university Career Centre should be your first port of call. They help to answer any questions about launching your career – and most have well-structured job exchanges. The Federal Employment Agency manages Germany's largest online job portal and also provides an overview of the potential fields of employment. A range of other job portals are available on the Internet: general portals, such as www.monster.de and www.stepstone.de, as well as specific websites. The Absolventa job portal specifically targets students, graduates and young professionals. The ZEIT portal provides more academic job offers.

Newspapers are of course another important tool. The Science Shop Bonn collects job advertisements for scholars in the "Arbeitsmarkt" magazine every week. Or you can have a look at the websites of companies that you find particularly interesting to check whether they have any vacancies. A whole range of job and career fairs are also held, which you can find out about in the Radar job fair.

Social networks for professional contacts are also popular in Germany – for example www.xing.de or www.linkedin.com. These networks let you create a professional profile and establish contacts with companies that are looking for new employees.

Correctly assessing your job prospects

It always takes time and effort to find the right job. But, thanks to the good economic situation in Germany, university graduates looking for work generally have very good prospects. Added to this is the fact that there is a lack of skilled employees in many regions and professions. The fields of mathematics, IT, natural sciences and technology as well as other areas, such as the health sector, are experiencing particular shortages.

This means that, depending on the sector, you have a good chance of finding a job. You can find more information on the actual figures on the "Portal zur Fachkräfte-Offensive". The welcome portal "Make it in Germany" provides information on the job opportunities in Germany as well as an overview of life in Germany.

Better opportunities with a good knowledge of German

Your chances of finding a job in Germany are generally much better if you have a good knowledge of German. Exceptions include large, multinational companies and scientific research institutes.