If you’re looking for a developer job in Germany’s thriving technological industry, sticking to the same basic job hunting advice like updating your CV or preparing typical interview questions just won’t do. The country has its very own rule book, that contains all the tips and tricks on how to secure one of the coveted positions as a developer for you. Here are three traits that turn you from a normal candidate into an interesting top talent in the eyes of German employers.
Apart from Python, Java and PHP, the other language that’s most in-demand among German employers is – you guessed it – German. It may seem rather obvious that German employers would want their developers and engineers to speak German. Nonetheless, there seems to be somewhat of a drought of German-speaking developers. Being a German native speaker or speaking German at an advanced level can make or break job offers. Especially if you’re looking to get into embedded software for one of Munich’s automotive giants.
Berlin is less traditional and more international, so while German isn’t necessarily a requirement for most positions here, German-speaking developers undoubtedly have a competitive edge over other candidates. Getting started with online learning software such as Babbel or Duolingo can help you pick up the basics quickly. Admittedly, wrapping your head around the rather cryptic grammar system of advanced German can be quite a challenge but not impossible. For comparison, if you’re a developer with an object-oriented background who somehow found the motivation to tackled the functional syntax of Scala, extending your stack by the German language will be a walk in the park.
So you’ve thought about moving onto a new job, and presumably, you’ve also put in a lot of thought about where you want to live. Perhaps you want to stay in the same location, or maybe you’re desperate to move. But are you really sure you know which city is best for you? From the outside, many German cities look the same and candidates too often forget that each city has its own character and its own distinct tech scene with varying industries, specialities and cultures. So before you rush into relocating, it’s crucial to ensure that the city you want to live in fits your lifestyle, your skills and your intended career trajectory.
If you’re keen on finding a developer job in an alternative and ever-changing startup scene, Berlin most definitely is the place to be for you. The tech scene of Germany’s capital with the focus industries - IoT and e-commerce are very reactive, always creating new trends or adapting to those that are sparked across the big pond in Silicon Valley. Like this, the city becomes the perfect playground for flexible developers who are excited to work with rare aspiring languages like Ruby on Rails or are mastering dynamic web development. Berlin’s developers do not shy away from constantly extending their stack to tackle the challenges of the city’s fast-paced tech scene. Coding in Berlin is experimental and often uncharted, which makes it all the more exciting. Additionally, Germany’s capital surely appeals to all of those who like to be out-and-about on their weekends to enjoy the buzz of Berlin’s unconventional party scene.
If all of this sounds a bit a bit too wild for your liking, Germany’s southern tech hotspot Munich would perhaps be better suited to you. The company landscape here is a lot more corporate and mature with the prominent industries being automotive, consultancy, pharmaceutics and machine learning. The global players in these sectors based in Munich like to play it safe and tend to stick to core languages. Developers who know PHP inside out will feel welcomed in the tech departments of one of Munich’s company giants, in a slower changing and more secure position than in Berlin. This working atmosphere is perfect for anyone who’s looking forward to finally settle down and maybe even start a family in a calm environment like the one Munich offers.
You can code, you can program, you can develop. But so can ten other candidates, so what sets you apart? Often employers want to see that you’re truly passionate about what you do. While technical competence is the minimum requirement for any position, passion and drive will make you stand out. How can I make them see how passionate I am? you wonder. The secret to convincing any employer or hiring manager of your passion is by showing them, rather than telling them. A great place to start is by having side projects, engaging in communities and projects online. Some employers may even require them, and if they’re not required, they’re certainly always a great selling point.
A side project can be something as simple as approaching charities or even the local sports club you support and offering your skills to help them with their technical facilities, for example, a well-thought-out website. Have you ever considered mentioning to a potential employer how active you are on community platforms such as Github or StackOverflow and how successful the program you worked on as a shared online project was? If you have an original and unique idea for an app, why not simply start building it, just to see where it might take you? Activities like this require passion, creativity and the ability to work in a team. While projects like this might seem like a piece of cake to you, they can show potential German employers that coding is more than just a job for you – it’s a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. That’s how they’ll know that you’ve got the right energy and attitude for the position.
Additionally, working on side projects that also dare your professional skills as a developer will help you be prepared for any challenges or tests they might throw your way. Being prepared is essential if you want to hold your own against other candidates, since nearly half of all tech job candidates spend more than 10 hours preparing and interviewing per company to secure one of the coveted developer jobs in Germany. All the better if you can combine your preparation with a useful and engaging side project.
Now that you’ve managed to make it to the end, are you surprised how specific the requirements of the German tech job market can be? Let’s quickly recap: Are you working towards mastering the German language? Does your personality and skill set fit the German city you’re planning to live in? Are you working on interesting side projects in your spare time? If you’ve answered “yes” to all three, then congratulations, you’re right on track to really stand out in the hunt for a developer job in Germany.
Felicia is an entrepreneurial startup enthusiast and content contributor towards software engineering and all things technical. Anything related to jobs, career, leadership or talent - chances are that she already covered it.