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I am currently for Software Development in Germany and am planning to leave my current employer after I finish the apprenticeship. The apprenticeship is finished as soon as I pass the final exam, for which the date is not set yet. All I know is that it will be in about 9 months, if everything goes well.

When am I supposed to start applying for positions in other companies (if it is important: planning to work in a bigger city, about 3 hours from here)? Should I wait a few more months or go for it better sooner than later?

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Start looking 4-6 month before you want to start.

Reason 1: There is a strong 3 month notice culture in Germany, so companies expect to have to start searching for a new employee 4-6 month before they actually need them (depending on how long it usually takes them to go through the applications, interview people and come to a decision).

Reason 2: To get the Arbeitsamt of your back. What dsoes your apprenticeship contract say about the end date of the apprenticeship? You need to notify the Arbeitsamt 3 month before your current contract expires (or before your expected graduation date, if you're a student or as soon as you know you're going to be out of a job, if that is less than 3 month before) in order to get unemployment benefits from day one if you don't find something immediately. They will schedule a meeting with you to discuss job opportunities and they will require you to start applying and write X applications / month. But if you can say you already wrote y applications and are going to interview here and there (or you already have a job lined up), they'll let you do your thing in peace for a while before they start bombarding you with "apply for this job or tell us why it's not a good fit" letters.

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For entry level development jobs, you should start applying about 2 months before. Most places will take some time to interview and finally select someone, and will anticipate that you need some few weeks to start.

You will want to start looking now at available openings now to see how quickly they open and close, which skills are most in demand, and what the general qualifications are. Then you will have a better sense of the market and when you should hop in.

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