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Expats looking for a job in Munich are likely to face stiff competition in the job market. The standard of education in Munich is high and the city plays host to many excellent academic institutions, which means residents are often highly qualified and skilled. This, coupled with a focused work ethic, is the driving force behind the city's many thriving and innovative industries.
Core sectors include information and communication technology, automotive engineering, aerospace, life sciences and finance, while the media and publishing sector is claimed to be the largest in Europe.
Secondary to these, but rapidly developing, are medical engineering, environmental technology, nanotechnology, and measurement and control systems. Service industries, tourism, retail and trade also make a smaller but significant contribution to the city's success as an economic powerhouse.
Job market in Munich
Even though the Bavarian capital boasts one of Germany's lowest unemployment rates year on year, it doesn’t mean that finding a job and working in Munich will be easy for expats – especially since the country's immigration laws have been tightened to protect local jobs.
Unless they're highly qualified or can prove they'll make a significant entrepreneurial impact on the local market, job seekers may find that the job market in Munich can be challenging. But expats who are successful find that working in Munich pays well and offers benefits such as subsidies for childcare, housing and travel.
Munich's main business hub is in the city centre, while industrial areas are mostly found on its outskirts and in the surrounding countryside. Luckily, commuting to work isn't usually a problem as public transport in Munich is efficient, punctual and accessible from almost anywhere in the city. Those who intend to drive should try to avoid the heavy congestion of the city's peak-hour traffic.
The average working week is less than 40 hours, although this may not always be the case, especially for expats in high-profile positions. Annual paid leave is normally between 18 and 30 days, depending on the company, and workers are entitled to six weeks of paid sick leave, after which health insurance covers a portion of the person's salary.
Maternity and paternity leave is also generous, particularly for mothers, who sometimes receive leave periods of up to three years. They don't draw a salary during this time but may return to work once the agreed period is over. This arrangement isn't mandatory for expats, but it's often granted and worth discussing with a potential employer.
For self-employed expats, the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce has offices all around the world and can give advice on starting a business in Munich.
Finding a job in Munich
Many expats move to Munich with a confirmed job offer in hand. Major companies tend to headhunt employees from abroad for positions that can't be filled by the local German labour force.
For those who aren't lucky enough to have been recruited in advance, there are a number of channels that can be used to help in the hunt for a job. It is wise for expats to try and make contact with specialist recruitment companies before moving to Germany – these professionals can offer great insights into the type of jobs available in a particular field. Online job portals are also a good source of information. Once in Munich, expats can consult the job listings in local newspapers for information on vacancies. Company websites also regularly list vacancies.
Expats who are not EU citizens will need to ensure they have a valid work permit to work in Munich.
Work culture in Munich
Business culture in Germany in general is formal, and efficiency in the workplace is paramount. Time is money – so being punctual is important. Once the meeting begins, Germans get straight down to business and there's little room for small talk.
Punctuality and appearance are important, so expats should dress well and arrive at meetings fully prepared and on time. It's best to avoid humour, especially at first, as it can be misconstrued. One should expect to be asked detailed questions and have facts and figures on hand to back up what is being presented.
Although most Germans speak good English, many prefer to speak their own language when it comes to business negotiations. Expats who don't speak German should consider hiring a translator for important meetings. Newcomers to Munich will find that Germans are private and maintain a strict separation between their work and home life, so it will take some time to forge more personal relationships with colleagues.
"I think the major difference is that Germans really separate work and their social life/home. There is (almost) never Friday night drinks with work colleagues. In 14 years here, I think I have gone out only a couple of times on a Friday night with colleagues. Having said that, I have socialised and even made friends with some work colleagues, but I would say this is more the exception than the norm. In New Zealand, I used to go out every Friday night with colleagues."
Read more of Phil's (a New Zealand expat) thoughts on expat life in Munich.
Are you an expat living in Munich?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Munich. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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