The application phase was tedious.

Finally, you have been approved by an employer. A dream comes true.

But what if the job has its snags? And you have this inside feeling that something about this job is not what it should be like?

Looking for a job in Germany with a time-limited visa can be a stressful time. Thus, it’s important to be aware if there are any alarm signs to look out for. It doesn’t happen often, but it occurs an international candidate has to decline a job offer due to work permit restrictions.

In this article, I share with you 10 reasons that my clients want to discuss when they question the fit of the job.

Student talking into a smartphone, asking if he should decline the job offer

Jobs are offered by companies. And jobs are incredibly multifaceted, there are the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. There is no such thing as the ideal job.

Some good reasons to decline a job offer

It’s wise to have a frank and critical attitude when talking to a recruiter.

A critical attitude is needed to form our own opinion when a recruiter gives us vague information.

Companies have one objective: To attract talents and win them for their organization. It would be imprudent for the manager to tell us in the interview that he’s having problems hanging on to his team in the Corona pandemic, that management is constantly putting pressure on them, and that’s why on-the-job training is cut off.

The list of reasons for declining a job serves to check whether we have found our dream job or a lemon job.

Reason #1: You have two job offers to choose from

This is the most excellent of all reasons to decline a job

Turning one job down because you’ve decided to accept another one.

This happens more often than you can imagine as a job seeker in the startup phase. Because with the right application strategy and credible application documents, success comes.

Reason #2: Salary is too low

It’s not just about money in a job. But money is incredibly important, so we shouldn’t fool ourselves.

Young professionals often want a job that allows them to grow and develop. These are important criteria. At the same time, the salary may and must be commensurate with one’s worth, qualifications, and the task at hand.

If you’re not happy with the salary and the company won’t accommodate you, think twice. It is legitimate to turn down a job because the salary is too low for the qualification and position.

Reason #3: You don’t meet the work permit criteria

This is the most unfortunate of all reasons to refuse a job offer.

The work permit is a formal thing, regulated by law. There are many differences. If you want to work in Germany, you need to become an expert in your own affairs.

It is unfortunate that you cannot rely on employers. But there are many rules, different visa types, and requirements that employers usually are not aware of.

Example of a graduate of business adminstration:

Let’s call my client Henry.

His dream was to work in a large German banking company. After completing his Master’s degree in International Business in Deutschland, he began to apply. After many efforts and hard application work, he finally got an online interview in Düsseldorf. The recruiter offered him a job in a big bank.

Henry was thrilled. His joy was boundless when he was invited to the office and received the employment contract. The very next day, he submitted the employment contract to the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office). Yet suddenly he received the unexpected news saying that he could not get a work permit. Not with this employer.

Henry needs to call the recruiter. Decline the job offer.

The employer was a service provider (Personaldienstleistungsunternehmen / Zeitarbeit) who wanted to employ Henry at the bank. It’s written in the law, that an employment contract with service providers or temporary employment agencies is not allowed for international graduates of German universities who do not have a STEM profession.

I’ve been working with all sorts of professionals in Europe and Non-EU for many years. But I didn’t know this exception until last summer. For Henry, who either was not aware of this exception of the Ausländergesetz, he was devasted.

Reason#4: No potential for growth

Moving to a new culture and country you cannot stop learning and growing. But if you want to grow in your job you need a job with the potential to grow as well. This is not possible with every job. There is a certain routine in every job.

But if we look past the normal routine: How varied are the tasks in this job? Is there an opportunity to take on more challenging tasks? Is it possible and necessary to continue training? What future opportunities am I building for myself?

There’s little reliable information on this in the job offers.

Even in the first interview, we don’t learn much more. You need to ask questions, and eventually get a more detailed vision of the scope of the job in the second or third interview. Some companies are very open and generous with information about the job, the position, and the team. Others not.

As a result, you may only find out late in the hiring process that the position does not match your ideas of a long-term goal.

Reason #5: Little information provided by the company

You receive little relevant information from the company about what the job is really about.

After the first, at the latest after the second interview, you should have a concrete picture of what the position is about in detail:

Of course, a new job brings a lot of new information, not all of which can be clarified in detail. However, it is important that you gain a clear overview of what to expect. And you may (even should) listen to your „gut factor“, even if you can’t express in words what exactly makes you so hesitant.

Reason #6: The company sucks

Not all companies are considered good employers. You might already encounter things in the application process that you don’t like.

We don’t need to have excessive expectations of companies that are seeking employees. We know from our own experience that we too have made mistakes in the job. We’ve also been thoughtless, rude, or lost our heads over our work. That is normal.

People with quirks also work in your dream company. We can live with some of them, but not with others. Everyone has to decide that for themselves.

To identify the really bad companies, it’s worth doing some Internet research.

In the rating portals of Kununu and glassdoor, you can track down bad management, unhealthy company culture, and poorly trained executives. You find these companies, they will have 100% bad reviews.

If it’s a company in your local town, then ask your neighbors or acquaintances. There, the regional companies are usually known, and a bad reputation is spreading.
Of such companies, you should leave the finger.

Reason #7:Plenty of fluctuation in the company

There are companies with a lot of staff turnover.: No sooner have employees started their jobs than they’re gone again.

This is something you hear, for instance, if you inquire in an interview why the position needs to be filled or possibly why it is newly filled.

Caution is advisable because this can be a sign of bad management style or structural problems in the company.

Reason #8: Dislike the supervisor

There are so many quotes on LinkedIn, over and over again. With the meaning „Employees don’t quit companies. They quit managers.“ The numbers and surveys in Germany are no different than in other countries around the globe: Bad leadership is the main reason why professionals leave employers.

Pay attention to who your line manager will be.

He or she will certainly be in the interview process at some point. Get a sense of how you feel? Specifically, how do they direct, what do they strive for, and what do they expect from their team members? What do they value in collaboration?

Resason #9: Location of the business

During the interviews, you are excited about the exciting company.

You had checked the map beforehand to find out exactly where the company has its headquarter or the location is given in the job advertisement for your specific position. But, in all honesty, you were not familiar with the distances and travel times in Germany.

Rather, you were totally euphoric when you got the acceptance letter. You didn’t care for what the HR Told you about the far off place. And by all means, you didn’t care at all in which hellhole of Germany the company was located. You didn’t think it was a big problem.

Today still many interviews are conducted online. Even group assessments, with lectures, assessments, group discussions, and online tests are done online at many companies.

When you take part in such a digital recruitment process, there is no opportunity to go to the site in person. Already at the end of the selection process, you’re invited to see the HR and managers on site.
Very late you go in person to the new employer’s premises. Then everything has actually already been clarified. You’re supposed to accept the employment contract or sign it right away.

Pretty awkward if you’ve realized at this point that the location is far off from your place.

But when it becomes tangible, a bus ride of 1.5 hours one way is long.

Or you drive by car and it takes you 2 hours in the daily traffic jam even though in the evening it’s only a 20 min drive.

This way a place of work easily turns out to be a genuine headache in the long run. Ask yourself if you can give a long-term and reliable guarantee that you will show the performance that’s expected of you.  And of course, whether you want to pay this price in time and personal energy. 

Reason #10: Home office is not firmly set

It was only with the onset of the pandemic that home office became common practice in Germany. When German employers talk of home office they literally mean working from home, not from any other (remote) place.

At present, it’s not clear whether this will be a sustainable practice.  In surveys conducted by the major German IT association bitkom, the majority of companies surveyed said they plan to restrict home offices again after the pandemic. 

What I’ve witnessed lately is that some of my acquaintances accepted a job not suited for daily commuting.  It’s a risky adventure for those who don’t have a paragraph in the work contract granting them this right. Only what’s set up in the work contract you can rely on. Otherwise, if at any point in the future there is a change in management you might be obliged to return to the office.

The individual calculus changes significantly if at some point the employer no longer agrees to the 4 day home office. Bad if the daily commute is not realistic on a permanent basis or you don’t want to or can’t relocate. 


What a success to have a job offer.

You have gained the trust of a German employer. Which is not easy at all.

You’ve accomplished the job search, the application game, and the interviews. Now, there’s one more step to attract your Glück.

I’m happy if this article helps you from early on in your job search to check on the position, the company, and the management.

Feel free to check them out like a future husband or wife.

Try to identify the lemon jobs, Those jobs are the sour ones, that are not your type. It’s all sharpening your own perception. Eventually, you’ll notice smaller details regarding job roles that you didn’t see in the exuberance of emotion being invited or called by a company.

Securing a suitable job is great. 🌸 But a job that catapults you forward to your dream destination is the ultimate kick 🚀