Work in Germany
Germany is an exciting place to work! This page has general information and considerations for living and working in Germany.
# Work in Germany Overview
# Working in Germany
The German economy is one of the largest in the world and the largest in Europe. The service sector accounts for roughly 70% of the total GDP, followed by industry (29%) and agriculture (1%).
Unlike many countries, Germany has several economic centers. Most companies and economic activities are in southern and western Germany. Some companies are in major cities, such as Munich, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart. Others are in smaller cities like Herzogenaurach (Adidas and Puma) and Wolfsburg (Volkswagen). Germany's excellent public transportation system connects these cities, making travel easy.
The vast majority (99%) of German companies are Mittelstand companies. The term Mittelstand is unique to German-speaking countries and mostly includes family-owned and medium-sized businesses. Mittelstand companies can be in all industries. Several Mittelstand companies are multinationals and some are open to international talents to remain globally competitive.
Many multinational companies have offices in both larger and smaller German cities.
# Working in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city and start-up capital of Germany. A tech start-up is created here every 20 minutes.
Major industries in Berlin are life sciences, tourism, transportation, information technology, media, advertising, environmental services, government/public sector, retail and e-commerce.
Large companies headquartered in Berlin include Zalando (ESCP Berlin Partner), Deutsche Bahn, Siemens, N26 and HelloFresh. Many large German and multinational companies also have smaller offices in Berlin.
Unlike many capital cities, Berlin is not the main overall economic center in Germany. This is largely due to Berlin’s separation from West Germany during German separation (1945 - 1990).
# German Language
Generally you can get by in your daily life without knowing German. Many Germans, especially in large cities like Berlin, speak good English. English is a Germanic language so many basic English words are similar to German (ex: bread - Brot, book - Buch, apple - Apfel).
However, German is very strongly preferred on the job market. Most traditional German companies want applicants who speak German. Start-ups and large multinational companies are generally more open to candidates who don’t speak German.
The more German you know, the easier it will be to find a job.
We highly encourage you to learn German as early as possible, ideally before you arrive in Berlin, to improve your job chances and help you with daily life in Germany. Our Resources section below has a list with ways to learn German. Here are tips from fellow ESCP students and alumni:
# Job Applications in Germany
Some traditional German employers may ask for copies of your diploma and internship or job reports (Zeugnis). A Zeugnis is a letter from your supervisor that summarizes your tasks and responsibilities, and your ability to do them. It should be in German or English. Now is a good time to ask your current or previous supervisors for a Zeugnis.
You can apply for most jobs online through a job platform or email. Due to European data privacy laws, some larger companies may not accept applications outside their job platform.
German employers typically receive multiple (hundreds) applications for one job. The competition is even higher for jobs or internships that don’t require German. Your application will stand out if you tailor it to the specific position and research the company before applying.
Job interviews vary from organization to organization. Be prepared to talk about your previous experiences and why you’re interested in the specific job/organization.
The application timeline can take weeks. Be prepared to wait for a response. Unfortunately many employers will not send rejection emails or provide feedback on your application.
# Visa, Health Insurance & Legal Logistics
German visa and residence permit requirements vary based on your citizenship. It’s important to research this information early and to read information closely, since it can take a while to get your German documentation. Your local German embassy or consulate can provide more information and assistance.
Enrolled ESCP students can access German visa and health insurance information through their MySchool account. The ESCP Berlin Student Affairs office works with these areas and can answer your questions.