Executive Search in Germany

Even though Germany stands as one of most affluent economies and highly developed countries, it is having difficulties in preserving talent. On the positive side it excels in terms of wellbeing and progress as well as highly skilled workers. However, Germany´s aging population is not only diminishing its labor force but also imposes a burden on public expenditures.


This has serious consequences for companies that are seeking executive talent in this country, where it has become increasingly difficult to find the right talent. Especially for positions with specific requirements. As a solution to this, companies have opted for automating recruitment processes as much as possible and closing partnerships with executive search firms that actively search for candidates. This has become a strategy to ensure their success, considering the specific requirements some positions need to have and the German market as well. Here are some mistakes to avoid and tips for executive search processes in the country.


Avoiding Hiring Mistakes in Germany


  • Contracts: German employees prefer local contracts, aligning with established German companies. Early clarity on the legal framework is crucial to avoid confusion.
  • Company Cars: In Germany, company cars are more than transport; they’re a status symbol. Negotiating the car package can be as important as discussing salary. A fully provided company car is often preferred.
  • Vacation Times: German norms include 30 working days of vacation, a significant cultural aspect. Deviating from this may put your offer at a disadvantage in the competitive job market.
  • Notice Periods: Germany has longer notice periods (minimum 4 weeks). Planning for this extended timeline is crucial, ensuring your hiring aligns with German expectations.


At Zavala Civitas Executive Search, we guide you through these details, leveraging our experience to ensure a smooth entry into the German market.


Use Native Language in Job Postings: Germans prefer job postings in their native language, and using German increases the likelihood of attracting local talent. Communication in the native language builds trust and engagement from potential candidates.

Adapt Terminology: Modernize your approach by using terms that resonate with the German audience. Instead of generic phrases, emphasize factors like the path to profitability, regional customer base, and commitment to regionalization.

Transparent Salary Ranges: Germans value transparency, especially regarding salary expectations. Including salary ranges in job postings helps candidates self-select and ensures that applicants align with your budget, avoiding misunderstandings down the recruitment process.

Diversify Sourcing Platforms: While LinkedIn is powerful, don’t rely solely on it. Utilize Xing, a popular professional network in Germany to do your executive searches. As well as considering executive search firms who are specialized to detail in this assignment.

Research Local Market: Understanding the local work culture, legal landscape, and economic conditions is crucial.

Cultural Sensitivity: Germans appreciate professionalism, directness, and a clear communication style. Adapting your communication to align with German cultural expectations helps in building positive relationships with candidates.

Understand Educational Qualifications: Recognizing and understanding the German education system is crucial. Ensure that you properly evaluate candidates based on their German academic qualifications, which are highly valued in the country.

Incorporate Work-Life Balance: Germans highly value work-life balance. Showcase your company’s commitment to this by highlighting flexible work arrangements, remote work options, and other benefits that contribute to a healthy work-life balance.

Localize Employer Branding: Tailor your employer branding to align with German values and expectations. Share localized success stories and testimonials to create a connection with potential candidates in the German job market.


If you are a company looking for talent in the German market, please feel free to contact us in our European offices and read more about our executive search methodology.

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