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I am a 23 years old software engineer from Hong Kong trying to relocate to Berlin/Munich, Germany.

I have roughly 3 years of experience in programming and a diploma from a community college. I have a basic understanding of German and planning to study the German language when I am abroad since I hardly get any chance to speak the language when I am in Hong Kong.

I have no problem with finding jobs locally and I am currently employed. There are often job referral from different agencies, and sometimes I get 3 - 5 interviews per week when I am actively looking for jobs.

On the other hand, I have been searching for job openings in Germany, that I have been trying for around two and a half weeks. The responses were slow and I have never got any chance for an interview.

What could be the possible reason for such a difference in my job searching experience? Could it be the cultural difference? Or is it simply too risky to hire a candidate from another country? Should I look for an entry level position to increase my chance?

closed as off-topic by gnat, Mister Positive, scaaahu, JasonJ, Chris E May 17 '17 at 14:38

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  • What city/bundesstaat are you trying to relocate to ? – Jonas Praem May 17 '17 at 11:31
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    "A basic understanding of Germany and planning to study the German language when I am abroad". Would you say your knowledge of the German language is good enough to let you communicate effectively in your field (before you relocate)? That might be a factor. – user34587 May 17 '17 at 11:33
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    @Kozaky I am particularly applying to jobs that require fluent English and willing to offer German courses, and they are mostly located in Berlin/Munich – Chi May 17 '17 at 11:39
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    "sometimes I get 3 - 5 interviews per week" - Getting more interviews does not necessarily mean you will get hired or get a job offer. – Brandin May 17 '17 at 11:43
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    A German employer who will accept English-speakers who do not know German and who is offering visa sponsorship is picking from a world-wide pool of applicants. They are in a position to require ideal technical qualifications. – Patricia Shanahan May 17 '17 at 12:11
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What could be the possible reason for such a difference in my job searching experience?

Germany is simply different. A very good developer may get at best 2-4 interviews per month. I'm actually surprised that you have this many interviews there. You have to be a little patient.

is it simply too risky to hire a candidate from another country

The math is simple. If I'm a manager in a company, and I can get a person with the same qualifications from the inside, then I will hire him. But generally, many companies don't have a problem even providing a visa if necessary.

Should I look for an entry level position to increase my chance?

3 years of experience is almost a beginner's level. Not from zero, but still, I would say it isn't possible to get a senior position. Keep in mind that some businesses have their own learning curve. So, yes, try the entry levels, and mention that you have 3 levels of experience.

Also generally don't forget that the more "senior" you are, the less positions will be available for you. Talking about the extreme, a company has 1 CEO, and probably hundreds of engineers. So applying for entry level will help, but make sure you the position fits you.

I have a basic understanding of German and planning to study the German language when I am abroad since I hardly get any chance to speak the language when I am in Hong Kong.

The German language is a complicated topic in Germany. I, myself, am not originally German, but now German. After deciding to leave academia and start my programming career, I watched 6+ months of netflix in German to improve my listening (given that this is my primary problem in German), and funnily enough I was eventually hired in an international company in Germany that never uses German after just two months of starting my job-hunting! So language doesn't have to always be a factor. Though keep in mind that statistically, it's. If you speak better German, more companies (that use German as their primary language) will want to hire you.

Good luck!

  • The OP said that at his current Location he got 3-5 Reviews per week. – Raoul Mensink May 17 '17 at 13:57
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    @RaoulMensink What's your point? – The Quantum Physicist May 17 '17 at 13:58
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You should not give up or lost faith in your job search.

Finding a job abroad while not being in that country is definitely difficult.

You are also not an EU citizen (I assume) and this will lower your chances to be hired, because you will need a work permit.

However, Germany is a big economy with a strong need of qualified professionals.

You should expect to receive a lot less interviews invitations that you are used to, but you will have your chances.

Highlight that you speak basic German, which is very important.

You may try to first apply to jobs that require English as the main language (multinationals etc) or your mothertongue. It will increase your chances dramatically; once you are there you could look for something different if you want.

Visit make it in Germany it is a web site from the German government with plenty of job offers.

Finally, be patient, be aware of your weakness (nationality and distance) and of your strengths (experience and ability to speak more languages).

Good luck!

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As a foreigner programmer working in Berlin I would suggest:

  1. Work on your linkedin.com and xing.com profiles; start one if you do not have it yet. Linked it actually have some helper to tell you if something is missing there. Link them to stackoverflow, github and whatever "IT" account you use.
  2. Write project based CV as a second option to one page standard CV. Set your responsibilities and task in. If you want to work in a startup it is really important since startups are focus more on practical skills.
  3. You should search in Berlin. Things happens faster here and not speaking German will not be a problem for a programmer. City is more international and easier for foreigners.
  4. Focus on startups not on big companies at the beginning. Big company = more people involved in recruitment process, acceptance of candidates etc.
  5. If you brave one. Save enough money for 3 months of living, and just get here. Berlin is not super expensive, If you spend more than 1600EUR per month, it means you do not do what you should while being here. Rent some room and check events on sites like http://www.hackerx.org/ and go to meetups from https://www.meetup.com/.
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To answer the title I don't think you can change your chances enough to make a difference.

As Patricia Shanahan said in the comments if I offer Visa sponsorship I will most likely filter you out from the start. I will look for someone from a well known School, who already started or knows German.

You are asking a company to spend money on visa sponsorship, which is not cheap.
On top of that they must be willing to offer German courses.

Or is it simply too risky to hire a candidate from another country?

The risk you bring with you is quite simply a large investment. Reducing the need to be taught the local language will definitely increase your chances, but that doesn't change the fact that you are more likely to want to return to your home country.

What could be the possible reason for such a difference in my job searching experience?

Locals are always preferred whether its the preference of their customers or the language barrier. And probably the fact you got a diploma that's worth something in your country.

In the end the biggest problem you are going to have is competition.

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