How to hire German employees

Dutch entrepreneurs doing business with Germany say they are increasingly hiring German staff or opening a German office. With German staff, you strengthen your market presence. Make clear agreements with your future German employee. And offer them terms of employment according to German standards. With the tips in this article, you will know how to hire German staff who are eager to come and work for you.

Selling products or services on the German market requires a different approach than in the Netherlands. Germans, for example, are more formal and often work in businesses with clear hierarchical relationships. Mutual trust is important to them. German staff and an office across the border can strengthen your market presence. A German salesperson or country manager feels familiar. Customers take you more seriously as a result. And a German team member can point out the cultural differences between the two countries. This makes doing business easier.


German professionals and businesses mainly use the XING digital platform. Like LinkedIn (in Dutch), XING offers advertising opportunities, groups, and business opportunities. The platform is also a good place to recruit personnel or find new customers.

You can also recruit employees by posting a job opening on the website of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit, which is similar to the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency, UWV. EURopean Employment Services (EURES) also offer employment services in the border region of the Netherlands and Germany.

Targeted search

Take advantage of the knowledge and contacts in your network and take a targeted approach when it comes to recruiting staff. Put out searches in the right region and industry. Alternatively, you could bring in a recruitment agency specialising in Germany. They will know what employers and employees are looking for, will find suitable candidates for you, and facilitate the recruitment process.

Prepare the job interview

What else do you have to keep in mind when hiring German staff? If Enrico Kretschmar does not know it, it is not worth knowing. Kretschmar is the CEO of Gateway to Germany, an agency specialising in recruiting German staff. “Working with German staff definitely takes some getting used to. It already starts with the job interview. In the first interview, candidates will want to know exactly what is expected of them.

"Your applicant is not coming for a woolly story at macro level," says Kretschmar. So what do you discuss? "Think about your sales target and market share. How much is this now and where does the business want to grow? Prepare your interview well and convince your candidate with clear content. That way, you avoid disappointment for the applicant and yourself."

Specialist advice

Want to hire staff in Germany? Then ask a legal or tax specialist for advice. Together, you will calculate what is fiscally and legally most favourable for your business.

Other working conditions

Kretschmar explains 6 key differences in working conditions:

1. German salaries

“German employees often get paid a higher salary than you might be used to in the Netherlands and there is limited room for negotiation. Germans will tell you exactly what they want to be paid and will expect to see that very amount on their pay slip at the end of the month.”

2.Open-ended contract

“In Germany, fixed-term contracts like 1-year contracts are quite unusual. Open-ended contracts inspire confidence and give people a sense of security, which is usually what German people need in order to perform optimally.”

3. Company car

“Many Germans could not imagine life without a car. Cars are a particularly important status symbol for sales professionals. The list price and brand of the car are particularly important for their reputation.”

4.Holiday pay and Christmas bonus

“In addition to a company car, laptop, and telephone, the 'Urlaubs- and Weihnachtsgeld’, or Holiday pay and Christmas bonus, are common secondary benefits. These are voluntary bonuses paid out by the employer.”

5. Expense allowance

“Germans prefer a corporate credit card. There is also a statutory expense allowance in Germany, known as the Spesenpauschale (in German). Make clear agreements on how much employees can spend on hotel stays and plane tickets, so you both know what to expect.”

6. Home office

“German salespeople are often on the road for 3 to 4 days and also work at home, from their 'home office.' Do not be surprised if you receive an expense claim for an office chair, table, and sometimes even power or water costs.”

German labour contract

German labour law is different from its Dutch counterpart. Your German employees will have an employment contract  (in German) under German law. This need not be a deal breaker, as it also has advantages for you:

  • If your company has up to 10 employees, your employees' severance protection is limited. This means you are allowed to terminate their contract without giving any particular reasons and without requiring approval from any authority. You must still, however, observe the agreed notice period.
  • If your company has more than 10 employees, your employees are legally entitled to more extensive severance protection under the Kündigungsschutzgesetz (KSchG, in German). Dismissals must be socially justified to be legally admissible. Valid reasons include misconduct by your employees or dismissal due to bankruptcy.
  • In Germany, illness can be a cause for dismissal, and sick employees may, under certain conditions, qualify for 'socially justified dismissal'. Under Dutch law, you have to continue paying sick employees for 2 years. In Germany, this period is 6 weeks. After that, the health insurance takes over payment up to a maximum of 72 weeks. This insurance is called the Krankenkasse in German.

The importance of onboarding

Onboarding periods are usually different in Germany than in the Netherlands. “German employees expect a thorough onboarding process that goes beyond an afternoon’s worth of explaining where to find which folder and how the computer systems work. For a new employee, 2, 3 or maybe even 4 weeks of shadowing within the business is normal. "Throughout the organisation, to get to know the business and its products or services. On the other hand, a well-trained employee works independently after 6 months. You make agreements and things then happen according to those agreements. When, as a manager director, you go on holiday, it feels good. You leave everything behind with peace of mind," Kretschmar says, laughing.

Regional differences

Germany is large and there are significant regional differences. “Southern Germany has the lowest unemployment rates and employees definitely have more power there. Candidates tell the employer what they expect to be paid, and if you do not, the next company will. A senior sales officer will earn an average of between €70,000 and €90,000 per year. This amount does vary between industries and regions and will be slightly higher in southern Germany. In fairness, they will quickly recoup their salary back with the sales they generate for your business.”

German branch

To hire German staff, you are not required to have a business in Germany (in Dutch). You decide what you want. For example, do you want to hire more German staff? Or a company car? This is fiscally easier with a German branch. But you can also hire a German salesperson from your Dutch business. This is often done through a payroll company.