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Tips for working in Germany

Working in Germany

Tips for Working in Germany

Economic Globalisation has given many British people the opportunity to work in weird and wonderful places. Whether haggling on price in a 125 degree Finnish sauna, or trying to understand the business card etiquette in Japan, Brits are becoming a dab hand at negotiating international business customs. So what about tips for working in Germany? Are there any particular German customs when it comes to working?

Whilst it might seem somewhat stereotypical, the German obsession with Beer carries over into the workplace. It is not unusual to see construction workers or labourers reach for a cold one during their break! Probably a British health and safety nightmare, but it seems to work for the Germans who enjoy less working hours and greater productivity! Cheers, or Prost as the Germans say! Of course there are also some more serious considerations for working in Germany, so let’s get down to business.


A picture is apparently worth a thousand words and this is the train of thought for German employers. Job seekers are expected to forward a picture of themselves with their application forms. A passport sized picture stapled to the top right hand corner of the application will suffice, but failure to attach one, may see your CV tossed into the waste paper bin. To British employees it may seem a little superficial to post a “selfie” along with your application. However the idea is to put a face to the skill set and make the selection process that little more personal! “Say Cheese”!

When creating your CV, you need to adapt to the German style! Germans are known for their direct manner and their dislike for “going round the houses”. Whilst it is totally acceptable for you to wax lyrical on a British CV, Germans won’t find this amusing. Your German CV, or “Lebenslauf” as it is called, should be a data sheet. It is factual, concise and consists of key statements which state your most relevant details.

You will also be expected to forward additional documentation with your CV. For example, most German companies will require references upfront and copies of any qualifications, degrees and courses. In truth, Germans have something of an obsession with paperwork. They strangely love to give paperwork out, receive it, sign it and store it.


Congratulations, you got the job! It will come as no big surprise that Germans are not keen on the quality of tardiness. Times, dates and calendars are held in great regard and it is really not acceptable to “re-arrange” as meeting as we might in the UK! And if you running behind schedule , don’t blame it on the transport, buses and trains hardly ever run late and leaves on the line would seem absurd! A better excuse is to blame your doctor, as ironically, tardiness is actually quite acceptable in the medical profession.

What to wear?

Business attire is always formal and dress down day is unheard of. Dark suits are the order of the day and adhered to even when the mercury rises. Those working is design industries may have a little leeway but the overall look is still smart! Trying out something funky for the office won’t be tolerated.

Business Is Business

Whilst it might be acceptable to discuss your personal lives with your UK colleagues, this does not apply in Germany. Business is taken seriously and small talk is kept to a minimum. As a general rule, keep politics, religion and personal affairs well out of the office. Germans really value their privacy so it is also a good idea to knock when entering an associate’s office.

Don’t stand so close to me

The hand shake is deemed very important in the German world of work, but that is as far as it goes. If a colleague has enjoyed success be careful not to heap the praise on too greatly. Hugs, back patting or just invading the space of a colleague too closely will largely be frowned upon.

Final tip for working in Germany

At the end of the day socialising outside of work is common! As in the UK, doing business over dinner is not uncommon. In fact the Germans have a saying that most Brits will agree to obey, loosely translated it means, Firstly let’s do business, then drink and laugh!

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