I want to relocate to Germany applying for an IT job. I know there are formal recommendation letters that German companies extend to former employees. However, I only worked for companies outside Germany, should I ask previous employers for letter of recommendations? Is there a format or guidelines on its content? Any advise on this topic?
Should I ask previous employers for letter of recommendations?
Yes. We don't do references. We will not call people. Written letters are good.
Is there a format or guidelines on its content?
Not for other countries. Stick with their letters of recommendation whatever they feel comfortable giving you.
Any advise on this topic?
The German format of those letters is highly codified and contains lots of hidden meanings transported through innocent looking sentences. The current court ruling is that this has to be positive and constructive and not hinder the employee to get a new job... but how do you write positive recommendation for someone who was drunk and attacked their boss with an axe? Well, you write something like "He was an avid socializer and great with rescue equipment". So... there is code for everything. For example if the last line is "We wish him success in their next job", the meaning is "they had none here, total failure that person". You really have to have the secret decoder ring to read and write those things. They are not super secret, you can buy the decoder ring on Amazon as books, but normally, only the HR bothers to read that.
So my advice is: stay clear of that. Just attach your original letters, so it's obvious those are not German and should not be read with that German secret language in mind.